Walmart : Putting up a show

Traditional investor content is given a broader appeal.

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The feature

Walmart, US supermarket operator, makes a big splash of its annual shareholders’ meeting.

Walmart has devoted all three slides in its corporate home page’s main featured-content panel to its upcoming (6 June) ‘annual shareholders’ meeting’. All three use high-quality letterbox-format photographs as a backdrop for headlined captions and onward links. The opening slide, Shareholders Meeting 2014, shows a packed convention hall (the meeting’s regular location) with a link to ‘watch the live webcast’. Slide two, Shareholders Behind The Scenes, previews an interview with the man responsible for the staging of the event; the third slide, Shareholders Through The Decades, offers a look at ‘how a gathering of six became a celebration of thousands’.

The first, webcast, slide opens a page with a calendar link for the webcast along with a graphic menu for related content: Annual Meeting Materials, Shareholders Meeting App, Media Materials, Blog, Featured Photos. The page’s right-hand panel displays a Newsroom Twitter feed under the hash-tagged heading ‘Join the Conversation #WMTShares’.Walmart

The takeaway

What is Walmart doing with its big home-page coverage of its annual meeting – turning back the clock or turning conventional thinking on its head? Back in the early days of the corporate web home pages were often the domain of the investor relations department, focusing on the professional investment community and spotlighting the share price. Times change, and collective wisdom now encourages companies to shine the light on their cuddlier qualities and value to society, ‘reaching out’ to a wider range of stakeholder groups. Devoting its home page’s prime slot to exclusive coverage of the annual meeting at first appears to put Walmart firmly in the reactionary mould. Look more closely, though, and on the back of the event it is delivering a contemporary message in a package that makes smart use of the online medium.

The emphasis here is on ‘shareholder’, a term inclusive of individual investors, and not the professional analysts and advisors that normally are the primary audience for investor communications. That makes sense for a company like Walmart, where ‘private’ shareholders are likely to be valued customers. But content itself is expanded to cover ‘stories’ that will appeal to a broader audience, including non-shareholders, an approach that extends to the webcast page and its use of appealing graphics to draw visitors into a varied range of related material as well as providing a window into the Twitter feed (though this is not as dedicated to the event as it is made to appear). What could have been a curt invitation to a self-selecting group has been turned into a friendly introduction not just to the event but also the company and its people-focused values.
First published 05 June, 2014
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