Posted January 28, 2008 9:57 am by with 14 comments

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Last week I watched the blog storm surrounding Target’s decision not to talk to a blogger, because it only focused on traditional media outlets.

Today, I see the story has made the New York Times. Yo, Target, is that traditional enough for ya?

“Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,” a public relations person wrote to ShapingYouth.

“This practice,” the public relations person added, “is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest,” as Target refers to its shoppers.

Word of the exchange quickly spread and the blogosphere did not appreciate the slight. “Target doesn’t participate in new media channels?” asked the Web site for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Target “dismisses bloggers” commented the blog for Parents for Ethical Marketing. “Ahem! So bloggers don’t count!” Ms. Jussel chimed in on ShapingYouth.

Now it appears Target is “reviewing the policy.”

In Radically Transparent, we look closely at when to engage the blogosphere and when to step away from the conversation. While Target may not have had a policy in place to actively reach out to bloggers, it should at least have known something about how the blogosphere works. For example, what did Target think would happen, when it told a blogger, (paraphrasing) “we don’t talk to the likes of you?” Seriously? Couldn’t it have predicted that the blogger would feel slighted and that other bloggers would also feel belittled?

OK, so maybe Target didn’t see that coming–hindsight is 20/20–but surely it watched how the story spread in social media, right? Once the “blog storm” started, Target should have switched into “crisis communication” mode which should apply no matter what what the platform being used. If it had backtracked on its statement, contacted the original blogger, offered an interview, and generally treated them like adults, Target could have avoided this storm in a teacup from reaching the New York Times.

If Target spokesperson, Amy von Walter, would like to email me her office address, I’ll make sure she gets one of the first copies of Radically Transparent–courtesy of this “nontraditional media outlet.” 😉

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  • While I think it’s great that Target will be reviewing their policy, what does that really mean?

    Does it mean that they will simply choose to not send out the email that they sent, the “we don’t deal with the likes of you?”

    How does a company this large create a response system to every inquiry?

    My point is that Target has shown that they don’t have the culture to respond, and they likely won’t have the capacity to respond effectively.

    So they may just end up sending out politer form responses.

  • @Jonathan – Nice observation. “Reviewing our policy” is a very old world cop-out. Basically, it’s an attempt to take the heat off, without actually committing to anything. If Target was smart, they’d go ahead and announce some kind of blogger initiative. They don’t need to give bloggers the same access they give the NYT or WSJ, but perhaps give them the same respect.

  • True.

    They’ll also have to change their communications structure and add people that understand what we’re talking about here. They can’t treat them as kids or geeks.

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  • I wasn’t following the Target situation – thanks for the details. It’s amazing how bloggers are now (have been for a few years) as powerful as many media outlets.

    Welcome to the Internet Target…we’re glad you made it.

  • Jayson

    No offense, but no, no, no, no, no!

    This is not the case of a blogger being as powerful as many media outlets. This is, at best, a sign that collectively, many bloggers (or “the blogosphere”) is as powerful as many media outlets.

    OK, this made the NYTimes. That’s cool. But will Target review remove the ad in question? Will they review their ad strategy? Fire the marketing exec that gave the thumbs up for this ad campaign? Put their account under review?

    Or have they just responded in a canned manner to the NYTimes article?

    My guess is the latter.

    I know Amy Jussel. She’s sharp as hell and media savvy. But it’s going to take more than one situation here for wholesale corporate change.

    Remember, there are two controversies here.

    One is the use of the particular ad in question, the woman spread eagle on the target logo with her crotch dead center.

    The second is the response from Target toward Amy’s initial email. One that showed shocking ignorance and, as a result, disrespect.

    But unless there’s enough outrage over the ad itself, this will be a 15 minute story offline, and a 72 hour one online.

    Again, it’s my guess that Target simply changes their automated response and then does SOME examination of the blog and the blogger. A slight improvement at best.

  • A friend just emailed the NYT article today…but I had already heard about the story last week via Twitter, then followed the link included to a blog discussing it. The blogging world, I have discovered, is close-knit and very verbal and word spreads FAST. I get the sense that many companies are still if flux over how to harness and/or communicate to the online social communication sphere.

  • Gee,

    not having a great couple of years are they?

    First they get sued for not having an accessible site and now this.

    Do you think they know they’re in the new millennium?

    Do you think they really know what the internet is?

    Talk about continually antagonising your customers

  • Glad to see target put in their place on this one.
    It does not surprise me that target took such a negative approach to this they are the ones that banned the salvation army from in front of their stores at christmas here in Indiana a few years back.Nice to see the media coverage on this.

  • Bloggers are certain to be Powerful and significant as any other media outlet..At the end of the day, all we count as media is what reaches the audiences or so called consumers…and now when Blogs are reaching the masses ..for no dobut they are and would gain significance..and should be respected as any other media outlet.

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