Women are In! (when were we ever 'Out'?)
Green Standards, Oprah, Mary Hunt, and You

The Behemoth That Blogged

by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief Social Media Strategist at xynoMedia Technology

A short time ago there lived a small company. The company was built on good old fashioned values and honest pluck. Over time that company grew and grew and grew. Then the company became so big that it was the largest retailer in America. All their employees seemed happy to work there. They offered unbeatable prices and friendly smiles. They served a sorely neglected portion of the population -- and they won the people's hearts because of that. Today, we call that company Wal*Mart.

Then, some not-so-nice things started happening:Walmart

  • Old Jed's Hardware store hung out their "going out of business" sign because they just couldn't keep up with the price war.
  • Mary Jo and Bobbi Sue started to lose touch with old friends. Once they used to bump into them at the weekend sales at the shoppes downtown, now they go to the 24 hour superstore at different times on different days.
  • The big company started acting as the moral morality for the population by only providing media and publications that met their corporate governance's morality standards, but they made sure that Sam Jones could still buy his rifles and cigarettes.
  • There were whispers and rumors that those smiling employees weren't really that happy after all. Many allegedly didn't have health insurance and were paid very low wages.

Target_2 Then along came a fresh, new retail upstart. The people liked their fresh, off-beat commercials. That little doggie is CUTE! Their red logo was an eye-catcher. They started partnering with major, high-fashion designers for clothing, make-up AND housewares. Now Bobbi Sue can look almost like that fancy lady, Victoria Beckham. They started giving away 5% of their weekly income to worthy causes - almost $3 million a week! This upstart started gaining more and more market and mind share. People even gave it a French sounding nickname. Oh joy! Today we call that company Target (or Tar-zhay if you're nasty).

Wal*Mart was determined to nip this in the bud. We can't have this upstart company taking over our market! We were here first. We'll show them...

We'll launch a BLOG.

At first, we'll just use it as a PR engine. We'll let our employees blog, but we'll watch them like four-eyed corporate hawks. And, our customers comments will be approved only if we agree with them. Humph, THAT should turn things around!

Six months later...

Ok, that's not working. Let's talk to some folks over at Huffington Post about where we're going wrong. Right! No censorship and we'll let the employees say whatever they want!

Umm..That's not going to cut it. Nope. Nu-uh. You gots nothin'.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, a blog cannot fix a company that has internal and industry challenges.

If you have profound personnel issues - don't launch a Facebook group - bring in a top-notch coach to work with all your employees.

If you have serious supplier issues - don't start a community - find a supply-chain consultant and hire them.

If your company isn't  being kind to the environment - don't create a podcast - start a small, but effective green initiative.

I have always said that you can be dumb as a bag of hammers and people might suspect that you're not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but no one would ever conclusively know. That is, until you open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Bottomline: If you're known as the company that sucked America dry, don't start a blog. You've got bigger fish to fry.


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Lena West


Yes, the increasing price of gas - especially since it's (last time I checked) - $109.20 per barrel.

It's always good to buy local and buy small - for so many reasons.

I'm looking forward to the Farmer's Market in the Spring and dining at all the resturants that serve local produce.

But, I do need Wal*Mart for sheets and summer tank tops. ;)

Yvonne DiVita

Have to chime in - rising retail prices is a result of rising gas prices. All of those items the Walmartians (folks who shop at Wal*Mart) and Target customers buy come by truck. Trucks need gas to run. Gas has gone up so much, along with tolls, that truckers have to pass that cost on.

Does anyone see a shift BACK to the old Mom and Pop stores? Here in Rochester, I actually like the Salvation Army Stores. Good stuff, good prices. Who needs Wal*Mart?

Jay, writer Memberspeed.com

Blogs are effective PR tools. I have to admit that. But if the company has a real problem rooted in their foundation and spreading among employees, a blog is not going to make that go away. Chances are, it will only make the whole thing erupt in a more negative manner.

Lena West


Yes, I've noticed that as well. What's with the escalating prices?

Well, this just leaves room for more competition. A player that comes in with a good, old fashioned price point offering similar items as a Wal*Mart or Target.

I can say that as wrong as they are about this blogging thing, Wal*Mart still has really good prices - at least at the one that I go to when I visit my parents in Virginia...but that could be a Virginia cost-of-living thing.

Please, they don't care about the economy. I think that when most companies make a certain amount of money, they stop caring about the economy and the environment and focus on shareholder value and making Wall Stree happy. The exception that immediately comes to mind for me is Sir Richard Branson. Obviously, there are others.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Ardith Lowell

Absolutely spot on, Lena.

On a related note, and because I'm fascintated by retail and track it, does anyone else notice that so-called discount or lower-priced stores have raised their prices substantially? Example, simple queen-size coverlet (not duvet, not comforter) at Target for $60 or coverlet set for over $100? Excuse, me?

Have all of these companies lost touch with who their target market is? Did they miss the memo about the economy?

Lena West

Amen to that, Mary.

The more you have to tell people who you are, the less you really are who you say you are.

"If you are who you say you are, a superstar, then have no fear, the cameras are here..."

I say it lasts about 3-6 months -- including 'time served'. :)


Mary Schmidt

Reminds me of one of my "rules":

The more (and bigger) signs you see in a company touting their integrity and commitment - the less likely they are to have either.

Want to start a betting pool how long this "uncensored" blog will last when the first big brouhaha happens?

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