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
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