Corporate Eye

Target shoots itself in the foot

According to the New York Times, Target (who are a US retailer) have an official policy not to reply to bloggers. Shaping Youth, who discuss marketing’s influence on youth, were complaining about a rather unpleasant ad run by Target – and were given the response that:

“Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets … This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest”

Oh dear. This incident has caused some waves across the blogosphere as blogger after blogger picked this up. And now here I am commenting on it – from across the Atlantic. Bad publicity certainly goes far!

This is a big mistake on Target’s part. They may have a policy in place that says they don’t place stories with bloggers so they can focus on other publications – unwise as this might be – but to ignore them completely, and not even to reply to the question?

It’s as though bloggers aren’t also consumers, with homes, families and friends. Bad enough to ignore a ‘non-blogging’ customer, who would only tell their immediate neighbourhood about their bad experience with Target. But to ignore a potential customer who you know has a platform to communicate with hundreds or thousands of other customers? And a network of other bloggers, all potential customers with a correspondingly wider platform?

What should Target have done?

First, I think they should be monitoring what is being said about them. As I’ve said before, there are many services out there to help with this.

Second, I think they could consider interacting with a few key bloggers – as they presumably do with other core guests – to find out their views. I’m not suggesting that they pay bloggers to promote Target, as that doesn’t go down well, but it is probably worth being friendly, and hoping to manage people’s perception of Target. Isn’t that what PR is about?

Third, perhaps they could even start a blog themselves. Lots of companies are doing it these days … and Target could start gently, with a few new recruits blogging about their first year in the company. They do have a great set of videos of people talking about what it is like to work there, so why not expand this a little?

What should Target do to recover from this bad publicity? Apparently they have no plans to remove the offending ad, though they are reviewing their policy about interacting with bloggers …

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Lucy is Editor at Corporate Eye
 
Comments

I use to work for Target corporation and I believe that this is the worst company to work for if you are in the U.S. Military. I use to be a Senior Team Leader at the Somersworth NH store. This is one of the key store positions before you become an executive team leader. I was just there a short time, but in my second month the store manager Randy questioned my military duty. This seemed odd because when they hired me they were well aware of my military duty. After I got back from my military training, things started to unfold. They started giving me a hard time about my work ethics. First of all I am a US Army Drill Sgt Leader and i am considered one of the most professional soldier in the Army. I knew they were trying to get rid of me, well soon after I got back they decided to get rid of me and actually made up a story that I harrassed a co worker. On her testimony alone they let me go. They even fought me on getting unemployment. This is how they treat the service members of the Armed Service. This is not fair……………..I will never shop at Target again and I have already influenced many soldiers to stay away from this store.

Hi Jerry – thank you for taking the time to comment. I’m sorry to hear of your bad experience, which must have been a very difficult time for you.

I think your story highlights very clearly the effect that word of mouth can have: people with a bad experience, whether of an employer, a particular store, or a product, are much more likely to share their bad experience with others, and to influence them negatively – as you are with your fellow soldiers – than people with a positive experience. It has to be a particularly good experience to be shared widely!

Word of mouth is increasingly important as it gets easier to spread news across a wide audience with new technologies and social media – a few words can go a long way these days. Companies should be aware that people are talking about them, and need to know what is being said. That way they can find out where the problems are (or, of course, where their company heroes are) and make things better.

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