I was in San Diego last week, speaking at a client’s annual customer conference. More than 5,000 people attended this popular event.
One of the most noticeable transformations we witnessed this year was the rise of the blogger. Out of the 150+ journalists who attended from around the world, about 10% were bloggers. Despite being “non-traditional” journalists, our client had the wisdom and insight to embrace their bloggers and make them part of their community.
Sure, some bloggers are a bit funky; with a different demeanor, attitude and style compared with the typical Fourth Estate (if there is a “typical” Fourth Estate). But bloggers have become a fresh voice in communications flow because they have bottom-up (vs. traditional top-down) grassroots impact as “citizen journalists.”
Bloggers at the San Diego event weren’t ostracized or treated differently; they were mainstreamed with all the global press. They had the same access to senior-level execs and were invited to every press event.
I bring this to your attention because of today’s news about Target, the retail giant.
The blog’s author called the company to complain about a new Target ad showing a woman with arms and legs spread out on a bull’s eye. “Targeting crotches with a bull’s eye is not the message we should be putting out there,” the blogger told the company.
I’m not here to pass judgment on the Target ad. A Target spokesperson told the NYT it appeared in a Times Square billboard and in sales circulars. But I would like to highlight Target’s corporate reaction to the blogger, delivered via e-mail.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,” a public relations spokesperson wrote to ShapingYouth. “This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.”
A Target spokesperson told the NYT, “We do not work with bloggers currently, but we have made exceptions.” The spokesperson said the company is reviewing its blogger relations policy and “may adjust it.”
I believe such an adjustment would be in Target’s best interests. After all, it’s a grassroots world and consumers are empowered like never before. Anyone can become a blogger. The impact of an ardent voice on a company’s brand reputation can be instant, widespread and profound.