Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States and boasts well over two million employees worldwide. In 2005, sales growth and profits fell while complaints against the company’s healthcare, gender, and labor policies were on the rise. To help reverse this negative trend, Walmart enlisted the assistance of LS2group for public relations work in Iowa and five other Midwestern states. From 2006 to 2011, LS2group raised awareness of Walmart’s positive impact on the community by showcasing the company’s promotions, charitable contributions, new store openings, and community partnerships.

LS2group developed an annual strategic plan to advance Walmart’s image and protect its market position. To this end, LS2group educated news media, community leaders, and elected officials on the value of Walmart’s presence in the community.

Specific campaign highlights included:

  • In 2006, LS2group created a comprehensive public relations campaign to maximize earned media surrounding the opening of Walmart’s controversial new store in the Jordan Creek area of West Des Moines, Iowa. The plan included a focus on early communication with key community leaders and media participation in a sneak peek of the store. The campaign resulted in positive media stories in all major local outlets.
  • On behalf of Walmart, LS2group participated in Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey’s working group to develop his Choose Iowa program. A West Des Moines Walmart store served as the backdrop for the program launch, highlighting Walmart’s commitment to Iowa growers and suppliers. The launch generated positive news coverage of the program and resulted in third-party validation of Walmart’s local commitment. Choose Iowa is now featured every year at the Iowa State Fair.
  • To raise key state legislators’ awareness of Walmart’s recycling and energy efficiency programs, LS2group designed and executed a campaign to bring Iowa House and Senate members on “green tours” of Walmart stores in their districts.
  • LS2group coordinated Walmart’s 2008 contribution to the University of Kansas and the Boys and Girls Club of America. LS2group included then-Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius in the event, which was covered by every outlet in the Lawrence, Kan. media market as well as several statewide outlets.
  • LS2group worked with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture to promote South Dakota Flavor, a campaign to gain awareness of locally grown and manufactured products. A Walmart store in Sioux Falls, S.D., hosted a campaign event featuring then-South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds. The event was well attended by major local TV, radio, and print outlets.

As a result of LS2group’s efforts, area consumers viewed the Walmart brand more favorably than before the campaign. Specifically, several stores reported higher sales after positive stories ran in their areas. Store associates were more engaged in store activity and community activity.