Wal-Mart ends PR crisis—but at what cost?

After taking a week’s worth of cable news broadsides over its treatment of an ex-employee, Wal-Mart surrendered. Video

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The story of Wal-Mart over the first decade of the 21st century is an uneven, lurching, forced corporate transformation from what was essentially an efficient supply chain with a smiley-faced logo to a fine-tuned public relations machine.

After lots of recent steps forward—Wal-Mart’s many green initiatives have replaced the unrelenting negative the firm was getting on a number of fronts just a few years ago—it appears Wal-Mart just took one step back.

But then, you’d step back too if you were hit as squarely as Wal-Mart was by MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann on March 26, when Olbermann, the left-leaning “Countdown” anchor, named Wal-Mart the “Worst Person in the World.”

The question is, what would you have done next? And would your organization have taken the weeklong pummeling that Wal-Mart absorbed before finally throwing in the towel yesterday? Or would you have fought back?

First the background, then the analysis.

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