Target Tells Bloggers to Buzz Off

Today the New York Times reported a PR pro from Target told a Blogger the company does not respond to non-traditional media outlets. The story goes something like this:

1. Last week someone from Shaping Youth, a Blog that covers the impact of marketing on children, emailed Target’s PR team about a current ad.

2. The PR pro brushed off the Blogger saying they only talk to “traditional publications that reach our core guests.” The Blogger ran the story/editorial about the ad, along with Target’s non-comment comment.

3. A Blogstorm quickly followed and continued throughout the weekend. Bloggers spread the word: Target doesn’t like Bloggers; Bloggers aren’t Target’s customer-base; Target is living in 1997.

4. Today, Monday morning, Target was forced to address both issues: the original concern about the ad and what they said about Bloggers when the New York Times picked up the story, which has been syndicated through the Associated Press.

The official Target spokeswoman, Amy von Walter, told the Times, “We do not work with Bloggers currently. Target’s policy is to focus limited resources on the big media outlets, like television stations and newspapers, which reach large numbers of shoppers. With a small public relations team, we want to make sure we are making an educated decision and we live up to any promises we make, in terms of service.”

Anyone who believes that Bloggers do not reach a large number of shoppers need only recall Dell Hell, a blog that became so popular it cost Dell its place as market leader. To this day, the company is still trying to rebuild its customer service image.

There is simply no more immediate way to spread information than the Blogger. Every one Blog is linked to other Blogs, which are linked to other Blogs, and like the old shampoo commercial goes…and so on … and so on.

In fact, companies that embrace Bloggers (and PR pros who pitch them) often see a loyalty not found in a lot of traditional media. Bloggers have the luxury of writing what they want and they can be your most vocal advocate if you invite them in.

On the flip side, disrespecting Bloggers is the quickest way to invite their wrath, which Target has most assuredly done because, once again, Bloggers have the luxury of writing what they want.

The fact is: media are everywhere and they take all forms. Somthing I say on my web site is:

The Internet has democratized our media landscape. Through blogs, webzines, social networking and more, your customer now has a voice as loud as any traditional channel—perhaps even louder. In today’s world, your customer is the media. That’s why it’s never been more important to “speak media” fluently in terms of strategy, message and delivery.

As we know, a great number of Bloggers work for traditional media outlets, in addition to writing their own blog. This is part of the one-two punch in pitching a Blogger; you can get your story in front of two media channels at once. Similarly, in this day of 24/7 news, a lot of media search Blogs for leads, as we’ve seen with today’s New York Times.

So, let the lesson be loud and clear: Bloggers are media too! In fact, they are fast-becoming the most important media Target out there (pun intended).

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