Blogging, while becoming rather influential in consumer choices, still is seen as the black sheep of media to various companies. Perhaps it is confusion with purely personal blogs or with spam blogs, or perhaps it is resistance to change and new forms of information media. Another theory is that companies have a fear of working with blogs because they tend to exist independent of advertising obligations, ad agencies, and public relations companies. So there is always a risk that a blog who speaks with a company or receives a product and hates it will tell it like it is, without sugar coating any unpleasantness. Why companies should not fall into that trap and should embrace blogs is a topic for another day. Today is about a more narrow issue: Target's absolute refusal to talk to a blog.
Regardless of any black sheep stigma I carry as the editor of a blog, I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of companies, retailers, and public relations agencies that work with bloggers and form great working partnerships with them. So I was particularly disappointed in Target after reading The New York Times article, Target Tells a Blogger to Go Away.
Here is what happened. A blogger from the website, Shaping Youth, called Target to express concern about an ad displaying a woman lying over the Target symbol with her crotch at the bullseye. Instead of addressing her concerns, Target responded that it does not participate with nontraditional media outlets and stated that the practice "is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest." For a more complete story, visit Shaping Youth's transcript of the New York Times interview.
Now I don't have strong feelings about the ad, and I wouldn't be offended if Target had sent a polite response but declined to give any interviews or written reply. But to reply that bloggers as whole do not reach the store's "core guest," and hence are apparently irrelevant, seems to be ignoring reality. I am assuming that the term "core guest" focuses on the typical, regular shopper at Target Stores.
Why should I care? Well, I write a good deal about drugstore cosmetic and beauty brands, including some exclusive to Target. I also tend to shop at Target for items for review, and mention Target as a location where products are available for purchase. So Target has received a fair amount of business purchases and gratuitous advertising from me-- free advertising that is read by a demographic that I believe includes a high number of Target's "core guests." Yet apparently if I would like to communicate with Target in some manner related to my blogs, I will be told that I am not worthy. Does this mean that, vicariously, my readers are not welcome as well?
I am not the type to get overly worked up over such things and I'm sure that I will continue to shop at Target. But I do now find myself questioning future mentions of Target on my blogs. I can, and often do, purchase items for review at Walgreens and CVS, both of which have worked indirectly with me on products sold exclusively in their stores via PR agents representing those products. Perhaps in regard to business purchases and decisions, I should be focusing more exclusively on them?
According to The Daily Dog, Target is looking at adjusting their policy. I hope that do.