Black Monday for Wal-Mart

A slide in Wal-Mart's stock price is only the first of the after-shocks of the New York Times' April 21 expose of the company's suppression of details about bribes paid by Wal-Mart de Mexico to "win market dominance." The Associated Press reported late on April 23 that shares of Wal-Mart Stores declined nearly 5%, but the real story is the decision, as reported by the Times, by Wal-Mart to shut down an investigation that was turning up embarrassing results.

According to the Times report, in 2005 Wal-Mart's top executives were notified that subsidiary Wal-Mart de Mexico had paid bribes to obtain permits "in virtually every corner" of Mexico. Top execs opened an investigation and quickly learned that the bribes totaled more than $24 million, and that local execs had tried to conceal the bribes from corporate headquarters in Arkansas. As part of an effort to bury this news, the Times said, Wal-Mart then assigned primary responsibility for the investigation to the subsidiary in Mexico, which exonerated itself.

And now the burying of the story is the story. Note to all corporate communications teams: When the news is bad, embrace it and own it—and sell that ownership to senior leaders. In the digital era, the bad news is not going away, no matter how big the broom.

Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI

Comments Off


About Steve Goldstein

Steve Goldstein is editorial director of events for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Google Conference


Join us on February 11, 2015, for PR News’ essential Google Conference at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, and learn how to take advantage of everything Google has to offer communicators.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook


This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.