As a counterattack to those charming, indifferent New Yorkers who took notice of its plans to open city locations, retail giant Walmart launched a PR, print, online, radio, and direct mail campaign focused largely on job creation. Though we all learned something from its microsite, riddled with fun facts - 71% of the city's residents are in favor of the news - it hasn't necessarily fended off the local opposition - cue the Fiddler on the Roof ghosts - showing that for every two jobs it creates, it will likely kill three, according to a report by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Hunter College. The microsite also includes supportive videos, polling, a petition, and a Twitter share function.
The company launched the campaign two days before a joint hearing comprised of three New York City council committees is scheduled to discuss the impact that Walmart could have on independent retailers in the city. A Walmart press release announcing the news included the following statement, emphasizing its desire to listen to the "conversation."
“We know that job creation and access to affordable food are significant needs in the city and we think our stores can be part of the solution,” said Steven Restivo, Director of Community Affairs for Walmart. “At the same time, we know New Yorkers overwhelmingly support Walmart so we're using social media to listen to the conversation, tell our story and give our supporters a voice.”
In response to the New York Daily News report that the chain would "boycott" the hearing, it posted another release on the microsite stating that Walmart execs have decided to decline its invitation to attend the hearing.
“The joint hearing …does not appear to consider the impact of the hundreds of N.Y.C. stores operated by these companies; rather it focuses solely on Walmart,” [Philip Serghini, Walmart senior manager for community affairs] wrote.
"These companies" refer to the Target, Costco, and various other large retailers that have recently opened in Harlem.
As the committees gear up, here are a couple major questions for the chain's "community managers" to consider - What can you do for the New York communities and small businesses, and will these Walmarts deliver
to the Upper East Side?