Walmart Boycotts HuffPo for ‘Unfair’ Coverage

Walmart–no stranger to bad press–made a rare PR decision to cease all communication with a major news outlet, announcing that it will no longer provide comment to The Huffington Post.

The retailer’s VP of communications, David Tovar, said in a statement that Walmart “made a decision not to participate in Huffington Post articles going forward due to the one-sided reporting and unfair and unbalanced editorial decisions made by Huffington Post reporters and editors”. Huffington Post’s executive business editor, Peter Goodman, accused Walmart of making a “false” assertion, and said he “can’t recall another company cutting off access in this fashion.”

Here, via Business Insider, are five specific reasons Walmart gave for its decision:

  1. The Huffington Post only publishes negative stories about Walmart, and never publishes positive ones. Generally, Walmart says the Huffington Post is “riddled with inaccuracies”.
  2. The Huffington Post declined to mention Walmart’s outstanding Black Friday sales.
  3. The Huffington Post overstates the scale of protests against the chain.
  4. Walmart’s PR people have bent over backwards to help the Huffington Post with reporting but gotten short shrift in published stories.
  5. The Huffington Post created a special landing page just for Walmart stories, something it hasn’t done for other companies.

You can read a detailed breakdown of specific Huffington Post articles about Walmart (and how each side views them) here.

While we won’t venture to take sides here, we will say that a blanket no-comment policy like this one, while it may insulate a corporation from having its own words used against it, also completely negates that company’s ability to weigh in on relevant issues and influence the way a story is run. If your company is having a PR problem, (or, you know, several) we can understand why it may be frustrating to feel like all of your efforts to stamp out the flames are consistently ignored by a particular news outlet. But is throwing in the towel really the answer?