Walmart offers measured response to bribery PR crisis

Allegations that Walmart bribed Mexican officials will become a sustained PR crisis for the company. Thus far, its PR response will hold up against attacks.

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That’s especially the case when it involves the world’s biggest retailer and corporate wrongdoing.

Although it’s not a strategy that many will recommend—at least not officially— there’s a tried and true crisis communication strategy that calls for simply ducking until there’s a break in the attacks. There’s a good chance that Walmart’s seasoned PR team is examining this as a real option as the media calls flood in about the jaw-dropping details of a New York Times‘ investigation into the Mexico bribery scandal.

The story broke this past weekend, and details allegations that Walmart executives made numerous bribes to a host of Mexican officials, to the tune of at least $24 million, to obtain building permits for outlets across the country. Making matters worse are further allegations that the company investigated the claims before sweeping the whole affair under the rug.

Nothing is going to move this off as the lead story in media outlets across the world. It’s way too juicy and implausible. Plus, the story is just starting to get its legs.

As with any big corporate scandal story, the fallout will likely result in high-level departures, angry stockholders, criminal charges, sanctions and fines. It has all the makings of a sustained PR nightmare.

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