As journalists, it is hard to do anything other than wince in sympathy. When Walmart felt wronged by a slating in a The New York Times editorial over the wages it pays its workers, did it make some behind-the-scenes calls, or put out a mild corrective tweet? Not quite.
Instead the retail behemoth took out a big red marker pen and directly made corrections, both grammatical and factual, to the original copy, posting the reworked version on its blog and, in its own small way, rewriting the PR rulebook in the process.
Because it was novel and witty, the response from the company’s comms head David Tova drew attention well in excess of that generated by the usual passive-aggressive corrective press release or letter. More importantly it showed a company can be confrontational in positioning itself, rather than the media, as a credible source of information, while scoring points against detractors.
Do we know where the truth lies in this particular spat? Not really, but safe to say that journalists had better take note – no doubt PRs around the world will have watched, smiled and learned.