Sears halves PR staff in dollars 1m budget slash

CHICAGO: Sears, Roebuck and Co. is trimming annual PR expenses by more than dollars 1 million as part of a company-wide effort to rein in expenses.

CHICAGO: Sears, Roebuck and Co. is trimming annual PR expenses by more than dollars 1 million as part of a company-wide effort to rein in expenses.

CHICAGO: Sears, Roebuck and Co. is trimming annual PR expenses by

more than dollars 1 million as part of a company-wide effort to rein in

expenses.



The venerable retailer has slashed its PR department from 62 to 35

employees and is reevaluating relationships with the many outside

agencies and freelancers it employs on a project basis. Surviving

staffers will pick up the workloads of those who left.



’In some cases, we will obviously be looking at how to do more with

less,’ said Ron Culp, VP of PR and government affairs. ’It will present

a real challenge for us.’



Sears does not currently have an PR agency of record, and has expressed

little interest in the past in hiring one.



While the staff cuts were primarily motivated by the retailer’s dire

financial straits, Culp acknowledged that the PR operation had not been

running at peak efficiency. ’We had been spending a lot of time managing

agencies and not being creative,’ he said.



The PR cuts will not be the only changes for Culp’s department. A Sears

government affairs group of five people who previously reported to the

company’s general counsel have been moved under Culp’s purview.



Culp began reorganizing Sears’ PR operation last year to more closely

incorporate across-the-board branding decisions by the retailer. The

task he now faces is realigning the department to reflect recent changes

in senior management. Chairman and CEO Arthur Martinez created an office

of the chief executive that will include the head of Sears’ credit

operation and its CFO, and the retailer’s president of merchandising

recently left the company.



The scaled-down PR department already has been busy on the internal

communications front, setting up an Intranet site for Martinez to get

employee comments on possible cost-cutting moves. More than 500

suggestions have been made on the site in its first two weeks of

operation.



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