(Image displayed is credited to walmartsucks.livejournal.com)
For this assignment, our class was to assess a major corporation and any rouge websites that may help or hinder it’s reputation. With Walmart being an option, it had to be done. Rogue websites are the “bad guys” of online communication. According to Seitel, author of The Practice of Public Relations, they seek to confront an organization by: presenting negative information, satirizing policy/management, allowing employees- current and former- to vent publicly, serving as a gateway for complaints to regulators and media, and confuse the public regarding which web site represent the real organization. It’s confusing in itself that the public would question that; what organization would jeopardize their brand like that? Take Walmart for example: considering the picture shown above, would anybody really think they were in favor of that?
Walmart attracts a wide range of customers due to their low, and I mean low, prices. Having such a diverse customer base means you never know what you might see; especially late at night. That being said, someone came up with the idea of starting the website peopleofwalmart.com; a site that posts pictures, videos, and comments about any and all Walmart customers. What do you need to do to get on the website? By the way this rogue website runs, have no sense of style, wear clothes five sizes too small, look funny or anything too bizarre for daily life. The worst part? The captions. They’re completely awful and down right mean; people shouldn’t be judged for things like that. However, more people than not simply don’t care and chime on in for kicks and giggles.
(Image displayed credited to People of Walmart’s photo page.)
*A monkey in a stroller.. a little awesome, but too bizarre.*
Another rogue website I came across was Wal*Mart Suck’s Journal. This live journal site consists mainly of people’s comments, concerns, and experiences- you can count on most being bad. This site allows current or past employees and customers to write and share anything they want about the organization. Additionally, occasional videos are uploaded, usually revealing something that reflects poorly on Walmart. A video currently featured actually does hinder Walmart’s reputation; it’s of a Walmart manager basically discriminating against a homosexual customer. This is a huge negative for Walmart, regardless of the fact that it’s one employee.
Considering the fact that the images displayed here are not making fun of any persons- as I claimed they usually are- and the video below is purely humorous without offense to others, it’s quite obvious that was a pre-meditated plan. My intent is not to contribute to the rogue websites discussed because no matter what humor people find in them, it’s simply rude. This point alone can be very detrimental to Walmart as an organization and is a prime reason why they need to consistently do web monitoring. Rogue websites such as these can cost them customers, especially ones that may be featured on the sites. Not to mention, if the public reads any negative perceptions of Walmart from a past or current employee how that will make them look; terrible.
Personally, rogue websites that are even remotely close to the ones mentioned above can not be anything BUT harmful to the organization it targets. Anything negative that affiliates itself with Walmart’s name, whether they have permission to or not, is simply bad press. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Walmart to have a team of public relations professionals to keep a close eye on these sites and measure any correlation it may have with impacting their sales. In my opinion, rogue websites like these leave a bad taste in my mouth in regards to the company, even though I know they have nothing to do with it; they should have something to do with fixing it.
Seitel, Fraser. The Practice of Public Relations. 11th edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2010. Print.