Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Singles Night at Walmart

Public Relations is about reaching out to people, holding events, drawing customers into stores.

While the idea of a single's night at grocery stores and supermarkets isn't something new in the United States, Walmart Germany has taken it to another level, according to today's WSJ.

In Germany, Walmart is holding "Singles Shopping" nights, which they have already trademarked to deter copycats.

According to the article,

It's vintage Wal-Mart: Cut-throat practices and rock-bottom prices aside, Wal-Mart's playbook has always found unusual ways to meet customers' needs, such as its longstanding policy of allowing hulking recreational vehicles to park overnight in the parking lots of its U.S. stores.

...

From the earliest days, when founder Sam Walton held donkey rides in his stores' parking lots to draw traffic, Wal-Mart has prided itself on having a certain P.T. Barnum quality about it. Wal-Mart stores in China, for example, hold live fishing contests on the premises. In Korea, stores host a kind of bake-off, with variations on a popular dish, kimchee.

As much as you might like or dislike Walmart, they get the public relations part when it comes to loyal shoppers at their stores. Granted, they have had many, many misteps for the company, which then blow up in the PR department - class action lawsuits for discrimination, building a Walmart right next to the ancient city of Teotihuacan - they do get their public.

This is what public relations is about - reaching out to your core market, bringing in more people to the stores, having fun events. More and more, I have been receiving proposals that ask for more than just media relations, but for a full public relations campaign: analyst relations, community relations, media relations, street marketing and guerilla marketing efforts.

What that means is event planning and staffing, finding appropriate sponsorship opportunities, finding appropriate venues and events to be involved in. It's a little bit of taking back the public part of public relations.

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