Wal-mart Stores : Promoting a pay raise

The US-based retail giant makes effective use of online channels to support a major announcement on wages.

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The feature

Wal-mart Stores said last week it would raise minimum starting pay in the US to $9 ($1.75 above the current national minimum wage), and to $10 by next year, a change affecting 500,000 workers. The company announced the changes via a letter and video to ‘associates’ by the company’s CEO, Doug McMillon.

The retailer makes full use of its corporate website and corporate social media channels to promote the policy shift (although no mention is made on its retail site. On the corporate website, the video and letter are housed on the corporate blog and prominently signposted from the home page and blog landing page. The video – which features Mr McMillon speaking to camera, American president-style, from behind a desk in founder Sam Walton’s former office – was still the first item on the Walmart corporate YouTube channel five days after the news was released. It also featured highly on the company’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

The takeaway

Wage stagnation, especially for lower-income workers that Walmart largely employs, is a politically charged issue in the US, and many commentators believe the company would have been forced into pay raises soon anyway. This is because US salaries are starting to rise on their own and there is political pressure to raise the minimum wage nationally and in a number of states.

Politics and motives aside, Walmart is savvy to blanket its corporate online channels with a feel-good story about voluntarily giving people more money. The tone and style of the video is informal and the language of the letter is ‘plain-speaking’, in keeping with Walmart’s brand image. The clearly unified nature of the messaging across Walmart’s corporate social media channels is also impressive, at a time when many corporate social media channels are run completely separately.

It is easy to overlook the fact that the online campaign is utilising just two relatively simple pieces of content – a video an open letter – but multiplying the effect by reusing these across multiple channels. Other small details have been attended to as well. Right links on the blog page promote employee profiles for jobseekers interested in learning more. Negative comments have been allowed to remain under the blog, demonstrating openness to criticism, with ‘Walmart Corporate’ responding to some of these.

First published 25 February, 2015
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