Target’s Not So Sure About This Crazy New Blog Thing


This just in from the New York Times:  the writer of a blog called ShapingYouth objected to a Target ad  (She saw a woman splayed across the Target logo with the bulls-eye at her crotch; Target saw a woman in ski clothes making a snow angel), and Target responded thusly:  "Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets"

The New York Times, being a traditional media outlet, followed up and got, “We do not work with bloggers currently” from a spokeswoman.

Of course, Target’s non-response to the non-media has now become a tale of bad customer service in the New York Times. Good work, PR team! The comments are rolling in and the debate about bloggers vs. journalists is getting fired up again, but the real point is this: Target could have responded politely to her concern whether she was a reporter, a blogger, the head of an advocacy group, or just somebody with an axe to grind.

But Target said they don’t talk to bloggers specifically. Why? According to the PR representative: 

“This practice is in place to
allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest."

You’d think that Target, the hipster of the big boxes, would have some idea that its ‘core guests’ read blogs.  Not so much, apparently.


  1. Ooooh, Target – you blew it – you should have 100 blogs of your own and for each of your fabu product lines – but no, you have missed the boat and painted yourself as an old fuddy-duddy in the worst way. Can those PR folks and hire some guerilla marketers for yourselves – post haste.

  2. Maybe Target realize the difference between Press Credentials, and little ‘ol me, anybody from somewhere, USA, and have decide to deal with the real Press, and save themselves a lot of hassle ! No disrespect to my fave garden bloggers! Anyone can blog, even my cat could, where she to be so inclined!Imagine if a company had to respond to every blogger who had an issue? They would need millions of PR people!

  3. Ha! Now I picture Target’s public relations person as an 80-year old dude wearing a three piece suit and chain smoking Benson & Hedges.

    I agree with Emma’s point, above, but still–if I contacted Target with a complaint not as a blogger but as just myself, would they refuse to talk? Weird.

  4. Not their “core guest?” Whom do they think that is? I’m a blogger. My 15-year-old daughter reads them all the time. We shop @ Target at least once or twice a week. What a PR mistake they made. Blogging and non-traditional media is the future, and I want to be a part of it, with one foot in each media door. I guess Target doesn’t want to participate.

  5. Well, as the founder of Shaping Youth (who just happens to be a former journalist) I find the distortion of the facts unsettling, even within the NYT piece.

    I did NOT ‘complain’ demand, or remotely position myself as ‘media’…I simply left a voicemail as a mom/blogger/core customer (it’s down the street & my tweens’ favorite store). Since I’m their ‘target market,’ I was seeking an explanation or SOME form of ‘what were you thinking here?’ dialog to transpire.

    As I wrote to the NYT reporter,

    “While I understand they don’t have time to respond to every ‘blogger in their jammies with a voice’ Google analytics revealed they had visited my blog, and therefore KNEW that we examine issues from many perspectives, applying critical thinking skills to media with the goal of positive change.

    In fact, I assumed (incorrectly) that they’d not only respond, but perhaps think hard about HOW they would respond with circumspect analysis of their corporate policy and voice, to open a conversation about overall responsibility in terms of media messages being put out there.”

    —So garden ranters, you’re right…a civil, boilerplate response would’ve even been better than the ‘talk to the hand’ approach which was particularly disappointing to me since I purposely phoned to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    The other disillusionment (aside from the fact that my words and context were hijacked from the get-go) is that I purposely told the reporter my concerns of misinterpretation since the blogosphere had already had a field day diluting the original post into a ‘one ad’ context of thumbs up/down opinions which trivialized a much larger contextual conversation.

    Ah well, live and learn…I guess media prefers to (dare I say it?) dig up the dirt. 😉

  6. This reminds me of the PR snafu that occurred some months ago when Ira Glass of NPR’s This American Life was scheduled to appear in Portland. The venue they rented was a conservative Christian church, one of the most active organizations in the anti-gay movement. Given Mr. Glass’ program and open-mindedness, the venue seemed an odd choice and it did not sit well with the GLBTQ community and their supporters. They wanted to hear Mr. Glass but did not want to support, even indirectly, an organization that condemned them so strongly. When a blogger contacted NPR and expressed the concerns, she got the brush-off. That started a to-do in the blog world and even made the local papers, to the surprise of the folks at NPR. They finally changed the venue (Mr. Glass encouraged the venue change, I believe).

    They learned – as it seems Target is learning- that bloggers have clout. No one likes to have their concerns discounted or ignored. It takes more time and effort to overcome bad PR than it would have had they had practiced diplomacy initially.

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