Tags: walmart | times | tovar

Walmart Takes On NY Times Columnist

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Monday, 07 Jul 2014 05:50 PM Current | Bio | Archive

It began as just one more slam against one of the world’s largest retailers. And, Walmart was expected to be a sitting duck, an easy target. Either too big to fight, or deemed unlikely to challenge a powerful media outlet toe-to-toe. But, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

When New York Times columnist Tim Egan set his sights on Walmart, his piece was as damning an editorial as one could write on the topic of fair wage, and Walmart’s role in the issue.

David Tovar, Walmart’s VP of corporate communications, eviscerated Egan’s piece with a brilliant strategy that was one part dismissal and two parts 21st century savvy PR. Tovar took Egan’s piece and “graded” it like he was a high school composition teacher blasting a “rough draft.” The response had exactly the right mix of believable sources and ill-disguised snark for the Internet age. So, of course, it went viral almost immediately.

The backlash was so strong that Egan was compelled to write a rebuttal to the lambasting.

In the course of that rebuttal, Egan was forced to nod and grimace and make a few embarrassing admissions. His sources were biased and incomplete, but his “premise” was solid (or was it the paper's liberal belief system?).

And, here’s where the lesson gets infinitely more brutal. Tovar did not need to respond to this follow-up missive. The Internet did that for him. See, while a “premise,” or “core idea” might pass muster in a college creative writing class, the general public cares about the core idea. That “but I meant . . .” argument scores few quality points. People remember not just what you said, but how you said it.

In fact, if you don’t say it in a compelling enough way, what you said will be quickly forgotten, replaced by an idea or impression of what you said. And, in a case of “your facts” versus “my facts” people will either flock to the facts that they already agree with, or will grab onto those that are presented with the most authority from the source with the most gravitas.

Not all big corporations are willing to be sitting ducks for the media.

Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
 


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When New York Times columnist Tim Egan set his sights on Walmart, his piece was as damning an editorial as one could write on the topic of fair wage, and Walmart’s role in the issue.
walmart, times, tovar
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2014-50-07
Monday, 07 Jul 2014 05:50 PM
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