SpeakMediaBlog has an interesting post about a certain situation involving a blog and Target’s PR folks. For those of you who have a traditional news background, you know that having strong relationships with PR pros is often your lifeline.
During a crime story, a police department spokesman will provide the “nuts and bolts,” of what happened. Nearly every corporation has a public relations/media relations/communications department, and its job is to provide the press with timely info. For smaller companies, the president or owner often acts as the chief spokesperson.
Blogs though have added a new dimension to the media mix. While some, if not most blogs are simply opinion journals, others provide original content and timely information. Some of the more established blogs are starting to look more and more like traditional online news outlets.
When I started this blog, I wondered how traditional news and PR folks would react. After checking out SpeakMediaBlog’s post about Target, I’m glad MyUrbanReport never had to request any info from the company (check this NYTimes story for the 411).
The gist of the situation is that Target’s PR folks refused to respond to a request from a blog called ShapingYouth. The blog’s founder wanted to know why a certain Target ad depicted the company’s bulls-eye over a woman’s crotch. According to the NYTimes, the company responded this way:
Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets,
Well I guess Target missed the memo that the blogoshere has become a force to be reckoned with. Some PR pros understand.
For example, about a year ago I blogged and linked to CNN.com about a civil rights special that aired. Next thing you know, a PR rep from CNN sent me a press release. The news man in me followed up with a phone call and next thing you know I was interviewing anchor/correspondent TJ Holmes. Since then, the network, has been very open to me interviewing other talent, and MyUrbanReport often receives press releases from the company.
When I asked CNN why the company is so open to bloggers, I was told, “If we don’t respond to bloggers, they’ll write what they want anyway.”
In Target’s case, the company may refuse to deal with bloggers, but it had to respond to the media anyway.
The NYTimes asked the question: Do you think bloggers should expect to be treated the same as traditional media outlets?
That’s a tricky one. Blogs like TalkingPointsMemo, and HuffingtonPost, draw a lot of traffic, and the content is credible. In general though, most bloggers have no training in the fundamentals of journalism. As a journalist and blogger, I’ve found that establishing relationships, being truthful, honest, and as accurate as I can be (without an editor) is the best way to gain the trust of PR folks, and publicists.