MINNEAPOLIS: Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy has hired Amy von Walter as senior director of PR, as the company continues to build out its communications function.
Von Walter, previously director of corporate PR at medical technology firm Medtronics, succeeds Susan Busch Nehring, who has taken on the role of cultural change facilitator in Best Buy's HR department. Von Walter is reporting directly to Matthew Furman, SVP of communications and public affairs, who joined the company in June.
Before Furman was hired, the PR function reported to the marketing department. However, he reports to CEO Hubert Joly and oversees internal communications, PR, government relations, community relations, corporate responsibility, corporate events, and Yellow Tag Productions.
In addition to media relations, von Walter is tasked with building the PR function within the company. She said Best Buy has a small team of “roughly three people” in the communications group at the moment, so one of her “immediate responsibilities is staffing up.” Von Walter said she's planning on bringing on a “handful of new hires” for the PR division.
“I look forward to being part of this new leadership team, which is really going to steer the business to long-term sustained growth,” she explained.
Von Walter's other responsibilities include handling corporate PR efforts and taking a proactive role with the media, she said.
“My goal is to reframe and focus the story and talk about some of the good things happening at Best Buy,” she explained. “Certainly there has been a lot of coverage and news over the last few months, and I look forward to being able to shape the news story going forward.”
In August, Best Buy reported a 91% decrease in profit in the second quarter of 2012, falling to $12 million, year-over-year.
After getting settled in the role, von Walter said she wants to build relationships with the press so the company can communicate its story and messaging more effectively, especially since it is seeing “healthy cash flow” and “market share gains” in the tablet and mobile categories.
“Best Buy is a $50 billion, Fortune 50 corporation,” she said. “I think it's important that we help redirect the conversations that people have had to date about Best Buy.”
Prior to Medtronics, von Walter served as director of corporate communications at HealthPartners & Regions Hospital for three and a half years. Before that, she was senior communications manager at Target from December 2006 to May 2008. She also spent more than three years as deputy director of public affairs at the US Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration.