How Bad Is This?


And now, a story that practically tells itself…

The following ran in today’s New York Times. It’s the tale of a response from Target, the giant retailer, to blogger Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth, who had called to complain about a Target advertisement. You have to read it to believe it.

Target offered an e-mail response:

“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, I can’t even count all the communications lessons in this one. But let’s try to hit the key points:

  • No organization should cut bloggers out of its information flow. Would you respond to CBS News that TV is beneath you?
  • It’s never a good idea to insult a reporter, blogger, etc. who is asking you a question.
  • Why would anyone ever have such an exchange via email, which can be forwarded and published?
  • It’s important — even critical — today for communications professionals to understand new media and its reach and impact.

I could go on and on here, but I think the point is clear. Basically, it seems that Target — like Rip Van Winkle — slept through the development of Web 2.0 and awakened to find a whole new PR/media world with a very new set of rules. Hopefully, the company can move quickly to address the situation.

(Hint to Target: If you want to respond to this post, please leave a comment instead of sending an email. Bloggers like that.)