We all know that to be successful in public relations, we need to work hard and earn
a degree — that is, unless we want to work for the world’s largest retail company.
On Sept. 16 David Tovar, the vice president of communications for Wal-Mart,
announced his resignation due to a falsehood in his corporate biography.
Tovar, who joined Wal-Mart in 2006, falsely claimed to have earned a Bachelor of
Arts degree from the University of Delaware in 1996. The company was evaluating
Tovar for a promotion, which prompted background screening that discovered
the fabrication. Tovar had attended the University of Delaware, but he had never
completed a degree.
“I was an art major going into a communications field,” Tovar said to the New York
Post. “I didn’t think a degree was necessary to pursuing my career.”
This is not the only instance of corporate executives dishonestly boosting their
credentials. Yahoo Inc. CEO Scott Thompson fraudulently claimed to have a degree
in computer science in 2012. In 2006, RadioShack Corp. CEO David Edmondson was
found to not possess degrees in either theology or psychology.
These instances all disregard honesty, a core value of public relations. Every
ethical public relations professional must try to “protect and advance the free flow
of accurate and truthful information,” according to the PRSA. These corporate
executives rose to the top in a deceitful manner and have now fallen. This goes to
show that, in public relations and all business practices, honesty is always a good
--by Bethany Corne, PRSSA General Member
Urban Outfitters, the clothing company known for its fashionably overpriced
clothes, has officially become one of the least respected companies. How does
a company make so many distasteful mistakes without learning? Back in 2010,
Urban came out with a shirt that said, “eat less,” which understandably evoked
rage from consumers and even celebrities like Sophia Bush. In early 2014, Urban
Outfitters produced a T-shirt with the word “depression” covering the front and
back. Urban Outfitters seems to take mental illnesses like depression or eating
disorders lightly enough that it can approve the production of these insensitive
shirts. These two shirts are only two examples of many controversial clothing
pieces Urban Outfitters has produced.
Most recently, Urban Outfitters made a “vintage” sweatshirt with Kent State
University’s logo on the front splattered in red paint that very clearly looks like
blood. Although the tragedies at Kent State happened in the 70s, it was a tragedy
and there is no justification for making light of death.
Urban Outfitters’ earnings this year prove how detrimental these mistakes have
been to its stores. The chain’s same-store sales have declined in each of the past
four quarters, including at least a 10 percent decline in the first two quarters of
this year. Unlike Urban Outfitters’ poor decisions, Chick-fil-A went through a
similar media circus when its CEO publicly announced his belief in traditional
marriage in opposition to gay marriage. Fortunately for Chick-fil-A, its sales went
up and customer base increased dramatically. It seems as though people appreciate
traditional values more than insensitive mockery of a serious tragedy.
--by Amanda Perrucci, PRSSA General Member
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.