Target mulls media-policy shift

MINNEAPOLIS: Target has restructured its communications department, allowing the company to increase its number of available spokespeople and reconsider a long-standing nontraditional media ban.

MINNEAPOLIS: Target has restructured its communications department, allowing the company to increase its number of available spokespeople and reconsider a long-standing nontraditional media ban.

Target currently has a policy that it does not take media requests from nontraditional publications, which includes trade publications and blogs. The company sometimes makes exceptions, as it did with PRWeek for this story.

Amy von Walter, senior manager of communications, said this policy had much to do with a scarcity of resources, but the company is now reconsidering its options after bolstering its spokesperson force from “a handful” three months ago to 40. The company accomplished this by combining the media relations, IR, and internal communications departments, which now allows all communications professionals to act as spokespeople, rather than making outreach the sole domain of the media relations department.

Criticism of the company, including coverage in The New York Times, stemmed from a policy statement released to a youth marketing blog that called a recent advertisement, featuring a young model, “sexualized.”

The statement read: “Thank you for contacting Target; unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets. This practice is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest.”

Von Walter said the statement was meant not to denigrate blogs, but to highlight its policy of not interacting with trade publications, therefore focusing its resources on publications that frame stories specific to its customers.

“Our response policy [was] due to the limited number of resources we've had previously…,” von Walter said. “We recognize that blogs are increasing in number, and that our core guests,” are writing and reading blogs.

She added: “We will be reviewing that blog policy going forward. We just don't want to make any decisions we can't follow up on.”

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