GWU Issues Management

A blog established for the George Washington University School of Political Management's Issues Management course.

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A middle aged white guy, who likes to think, talk and, too infrequently, write about politics, religion and gadgets.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Walmart Blog

Check out the new Walmart blog. Click here to see the blog. Click here to see a New York Times article about it.

What's its significance? Please draw upon some of what we learned about Walmart earlier in the course to inform your comments.

6 Comments:

Blogger MM Jersey said...

This blog is consistent with the Wal-Mart ethos of driving value for consumers. This is another opportunity, albeit very creatuive, to be able to talk about their efforts to find the best products at the lowest prices.

I think the universe is a limited but important one, as the people browsing blogs such as these are likely to be people who are technologically savvy. in other words, the typical Wal-Mart shopper is not likely to a) stumble upon this, or b) care very much. I believe the blu-ray example is a perfect one. While I'm sure Wal-Mart has sold many blu-ray players and generated a lot of buzz in the on-line community, it's not likely to impact the average customer.

This strikes me as just another creative way for Wal-Mart to be able to spread propagnada about bringing value to consumers and lowering prices.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Bruno Hoffmann said...

I see no significance at all.

You can find reviews about games, softwares, and products in general all over the web.

I would trust more in a anonymous review than whatever is written by a group of "expert Wal-Mart Associates" - even though, as the NYT article says, they are free from censorship or corporate review.

And the fact that a major newspaper already made an article about a blog with just 1,000 hits per day. Makes me think that Wal-Mart use its networking to have that published.

I think this blog won't work and I also think it shouldn't work.

Let the people - the regular costumers say what they think. There's no need of a blog like this. There are enough people looking forward to give their reviews.

And yes, we all know that some of those "real costumers" reviews are actually people linked with the companies that produce the products... So it shouldn't be consider a real sample. But let it be. So far it has worked.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Fi5hburn said...

I know this is something of a generalization, but it seems like those who care about ‘gaming’ and technological innovations are the people most likely to, like mm jersey stated, “stumble upon” this blog. We’ll call this group the ‘informed population.’ This informed population is also more likely to be aware of Wal-Mart’s troubled past (i.e. the cloud of secrecy). So, Wal-Mart is using this blog as a means to change its image with that group and to portray a more transparent business culture. Who can blame them?

9:03 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Ok, the first thing I saw on the blog was the picture of a grenade with Wal-Mart's signature smiley face on it...if that's not bad vetting, I don't know what is.

So I am convinced it's pretty uncensored. This raises two ideas: 1) That's highly unusual for Wal-Mart and 2) Then why are they doing it?

I agree with Bruno--this will not work to change their image from one of tightly controlled secrecy to an open, honest, there for the benefit of the consumer kinda company. Especially because it's true that people who read these blogs (or most blogs for that matter) know they are scum.

But I also think this is a half-hearted effort. Question: Why would Wal-Mart relinquish control of anything at all? Answer: They wouldn't...unless it was something that didn't matter one bit. So here they let some nerds sound off on games and gadgets and do a big PR push, not excluding the liberal-elite Bible that is the NYT, to try to make it seem bigger than it is.

But there is no cultural change here. There is no concession that they are subject to the influence of the blogosphere or anything else for that matter. I think every now and then they pretend to care about something besides profit, though in ways that cost them little or no money, and then they go back to business as usual.

They've already laid the groundwork for letting this thing fold completely. Why else would their bloggers go on about how hard it is to find time to post? Because sometime in the not too distant future, they'll stop posting at all, and they want people to think they're all hardworkers, when really it was all a ruse to begin with.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Cullen Linebarger said...

Wal-Mart can use any good publicity they can get and it is a good idea to have regular people posting rather than the corporate executives. For Wal-Mart this lends them more credibililty.
The subject matter of the blog, however, is a waste of time. Wal-Mart's problem is not that they offer products at low prices or have trouble attracting consumers. This is how they thrive. A blog like this needs to be address the positive contributions and jobs Wal-Mart brings to communities and show ways in which they are taking care of their employees as well as their customers.
I also agree that the average Wal-Mart customers are not likely to read this. It may be a better idea for a TV ad campaign if they are concerned about their image. It will certainly be expensive, but as the largest store chain in the world, they can more than afford it

2:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm not sure to what degree I actually buy that this blog is completely uncensored nor do I feel it will make an extreme difference on Wal Mart's image or brand. They do need to move into the blogosphere but this seems to exude little effort. It needs to be better promoted if they want to drive more than a 1,000 people to it. I agree that it will try to change the idea of people interested in the products but I feel that most of those people would remain skeptical of a Wal Mart blog and would seek other sources for information.

1:54 PM  

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