December 2, 2010
Mona Williams is vice president of corporate communications for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., where she leads teams responsible for national media relations, executive communications and Web communications. She came to the Bentonville, Ark.-based company from AT&T.
Each month, as part of The Business Case for Public Relations, PRSA asks an industry leader to reflect on his or her career and make a “business case” for public relations.
Name: Mona Williams
To be a famous writer
Lead corporate communications for Wal-Mart, the No. 1 company in the Fortune 500 rankings of America’s largest corporations
What changed (i.e. how you became interested in public relations):
My early career was in marketing, and I partnered closely with the PR team. I liked what they did more, and their leader generously helped me move into public relations.
First public relations job:
PR director for AT&T Network Operations Center — I started 15 days before an outage halted voice and digital service to most of Manhattan, including air traffic control in three airports.
What you know now that you wish you’d known then:
As PR professionals, we impact our company’s reputation when we help drive change from within. You have to earn respect by understanding the business, its culture and its complexities.
Best piece of advice ever received:
You need to think more like a communications director and less like a press secretary.
Greatest professional accomplishment:
Helping lead reputation turnaround at Wal-Mart — I’m very proud of what this company does
If you weren’t in public relations, you’d be:
Working at a nonprofit that allows me to help people in a hands-on manner
Develop successful PR leaders at all levels who are stronger professionals because I invested in them — pushing, teaching, encouraging
Make a “business case” for public relations:
It’s hard for a company to be successful if people don’t like and trust it. They don’t buy your products, let you enter new markets or easily forgive mistakes.