Target in Crisis. Lessons from its response. – SCN Encourager 6/2/2014

It’s no fun when the “target” is on your back.


Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 3.30.26 PM2014 has not been kind to Target.

Its customer credit card data was hacked months ago. Profits are down. Its top leader has flown the coop. And company morale is down.

You can imagine the scuttlebutt flying about on social media.

Yeah, I’d say Target is now probably the featured case study in many college PR and communications today.  (And here!)

Gini Dietrich is a highly respected PR expert based out of Chicago.

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 3.41.16 PMHer book, Spin Sucks, pretty much sums up her perspective on how to communicate during times of difficulty.

She says just shoot straight.

But even she admits, that when the heat is on and temperature is rising, this is tough to do. (Hence, the reason for her book…)

She wrote about Target’s troubles in her blog last week. Her blog is also called Spin Sucks.

Obviously, she believes believes in the power of repetition.

The five lessons she highlights at the end of her blog are worth noting – especially they’re based on the real-world response from Target’s chief marketing officer to a disgruntled employee’s email that went viral. (Ouch.)

Not every social media and email hiccup lends itself to a clear teachable moment.

This one does.

Thank you, Gini!

And as she works her ways down to her five lessons in her blog, she tosses out a few other gems along the way.

For example, she references business and organizational expert Les McKeown.

He has studied and defined the various stages of an organization’s life and he says that Target is in “the big rut” stage.

What’s scary in this assessment is the fact that the next stage is “the death rattle.”

Uh, oh.

No wonder Target is tackling criticism on social media head on.

Another interesting nugget is Gini’s paragraph about the three kind of stories people typically like.

I never thought about this before, but I think she’s onto something here.

Gini says that we’re drawn to stories where –
• David beats Goliath,
• a victorious David later becomes arrogant and stumbles from his perch,
• and a humbled David rises up from the ashes.

All true, don’tcha think?

Anyway, with all of our graduation events and end-of-the-school-year activities, I realize that reading Gini’s article analyzing Target’s PR problems won’t be high on your “to do” list.

But you may want to bump it up a notch or two if you can spare a few minutes.

And I also hope that I haven’t irked you by my frequent use of Gini’s first name.

We’re not buddies or anything.

Normally, I would’ve just used her last name (i.e. Dietrich says… Dietrich notes…).

But I thought I’d better shake my writing practice and try something new because Les McKeown’s admonition hits me pretty close to home.

It’s difficult to admit, but if I’m honest about my weird set ways and personality, I’ve probably been in the “big rut stage” he warns against since kindergarten.

So I’m going to fight to stay in it!

That next phase he describes – the death rattle – doesn’t sound like much fun.

Tom Page, SCN           No big ruts over at Facebook.
carMon 060214






Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.