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Once again, Walmart appears to be on the wrong side of a public relations misstep.

What happened was this. A woman named Stephanie Harnett attended a closed press conference being held by a pro-labor group in Los Angeles that is opposing the building of a new store in Chinatown by the retailer. But Harnett is not a journalist, though she represented herself to be a student reporter from USC. No, she is a public relations executive with the firm representing Walmart in its efforts to get a building permit to open that new store.

According to various published reports, Walmart condemned Harnett's actions as being “contrary to our values and the way we do business," and the PR firm, Mercury Public Affairs,said that her actions were "in no way approved, authorized, or directed by Wal-Mart or Mercury," and that she no longer worked for the company.

However, in one interesting little side note, it is reported by Time that the same tactic has been used in the past by at least one other PR firm employed by Walmart.
KC's View:
As PR scandals go, this one ranks pretty low on the Richter scale, IMHO. In fact, the thing that surprises me is that anyone would want to pose as a journalist and run the risk of being sullied by the profession.

The only thing worse would be posing as a Congressman.

That said, the folks at Walmart and Mercury should simply apologize and walk away. And then look at each other and say, "Forget it. It's Chinatown."