Home Depot to pick firms for PR rebuild

ATLANTA: The Home Depot is revamping its PR arrangements, and looking for two AORs: one for corporate reputation, and another for merchandising and marketing communications.

ATLANTA: The Home Depot is revamping its PR arrangements, and looking for two AORs: one for corporate reputation, and another for merchandising and marketing communications.

Company PR chief David Sandor confirmed that the company is engaged in two simultaneous reviews.

A who's who roster of firms has been working to reach the finals, scheduled for this week. Through a number of sources, PRWeek has confirmed that Weber Shandwick, Edelman, Ketchum, and MS&L are among those presenting.

"We're going through one of the most significant transformations in the company's history," said Sandor, explaining the company's motives for the double search. "We have new merchandising initiatives that are not only a significant driver of traffic and sales, but are also indicative of major corporate changes."

Sandor also revealed that Home Depot plans to install a do-it-yourself checkout system that tested successfully last year. "We'll increase efficiency, and from a customer standpoint, improve the shopping experience."

Sandor said the intersection of corporate and retail marketing across 1,500 stores in North and Central America required a more mature approach to PR. The company contracted LA-based consultant Jerry Swerling to conduct the search, and he has put all the candidates through tasks such as on-site inspections and a strategic challenge.

"In the past, (Home Depot) has worked with agencies on an ad hoc basis," explained Swerling. "Given the size and complexity of the organization, they're looking for a more formalized structure."

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