Wal-Mart seeks to improve its image in NY

NEW YORK: Wal-Mart has begun a media relations and community outreach effort to improve its image here as it seeks future sites for local stores.

NEW YORK: Wal-Mart has begun a media relations and community outreach effort to improve its image here as it seeks future sites for local stores.

The retailing giant has begun advertising in community papers across the city and plans to expand those ads to the ethnic press, radio, and television.

At the same time, "we are reaching out to local community leaders and reporters," said Mia Masten, director of corporate affairs for the Eastern region.

Wal-Mart is seeking meetings with the presidents of New York's five boroughs and with other community leaders.

It has also spoken to journalists from the New York Daily News, Staten Island Advance, New York Post, and other community papers in Brooklyn.

"We've met with reporters to set the record straight about who Wal-Mart is. For far too long there's been a lot of misinformation out there about the company," Masten said.

Wal-Mart is stressing that it provides good jobs and career opportunities for its staff and that it is a good corporate citizen where it operates, she said.

It's working with the New York-based Marino Organization in its outreach efforts, Masten noted.

Wal-Mart had hoped to build a store in Queens, but community opposition has so far stymied the deal.

The company is considering a Staten Island site, but has run into resistance there, as it did last year in Chicago, where one proposed store was approved but another rejected after opposition arose from local groups and politicians.

"We're still very interested in New York; we know that our customers are there," Masten said.

Wal-Mart earlier this year began advertising nationally to combat negative perceptions. The New York ads are localized versions of those efforts, she said.

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