Advantage Walmart: Giant Retailer Looking Warmer All The Time Compared with Ebeneezer Target

David Kiley

Gotta love Walmart and its efforts to improve its image. It's no secret that the giant retailer has long taken it on the chin from smaller rival Target, which has cultivated a better overall image. You know...Target is cool. Walmart is evil for all of the small businesses it forces into closure.

But Target has been held up as the Scrooge of retailing the last two years for banishing the poor Salvation Army soldiers from the front of its stores. Walmart, which was front-and-center on Katrina relief, is now advertising that it is embracing the Salvation Army in front of its stores.

Target last month publicized that shoppers could contribute to Salvation Army from its website. But's a bit less spiritual than letting the bell ringers ask for change out front of the store. In any case, Target made things worse by only letting its online shoppers donate gift cards or merchandise they buy to the Salvation Army. There is no, say, online kettle to donate money direct. Lame.

Walmart meantime increased its fund-raising time from 14 days to 28.

Here is a memo to both companies, but especially Target. If you are going to engage in a PR battle, it would help to be know...cooperative with reporters who are interested in covering the company's actions. Target is notoriously hostile to reporters. Meantime, Walmart, which used to have a similar stance, has been increasingly helpful and responsive over the last year or so.

Good reporters don't play favorites. But as a practical matter, they do need their requests fielded and dealt with helpfully and on a timely basis. Every little bit helps.

In terms of Christmas spirit and PR: Advantage Walmart.