INDIANAPOLIS: Wal-Mart has hired Shank Public Relations to handle PR, community relations, and management consulting for the retailer in Indiana.
Shank already has worked on the openings of two Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets, a new concept store that sells food products, said David Shank, president of the firm that bears his name. The agency began working with Wal-Mart July 1.
In its initial PR efforts, Shank's agency has been emphasizing that Wal-Mart is investing more than $10 million in the economically depressed East Side of Indianapolis, he said. Shank is leading the agency's Wal-Mart account effort.
While Wal-Mart has had PR problems as it tries to build new stores in places like California and Chicago, Shank said the retailer has a good image in Indiana, where it is the third-largest employer after the state and federal governments. Wal-Mart employs 36,166 people in its 106 stores and facilities in the Hoosier State.
Shank's experience in working with other big-box retailers, such as The Home Depot and Dick's Sporting Goods, led Wal-Mart to contact him about working for it in the state, he said.
Opposition to Wal-Mart in Chicago from organized labor and community groups, and some city officials grew so strong that the retailer is dropping plans for a new store on the city's South Side until it sees whether the city council passes a measure that would set minimum wage and benefit levels for large stores such as Wal-Mart.
In California, Wal-Mart used grassroots PR to counter efforts to pass ordinances that would ban its superstores from certain locales, but failed in Inglewood, near Los Angeles, where residents voted against allowing a Wal-Mart Supercenter to open.