Tag Archives: corporate communication

Target: What went wrong?

latest

 “Your customers are responsible for your company’s reason for existing.” – Marilyn Suttle 

After billions of losses in the Canadian market, Target asks itself today: what went wrong?

According to the OECD Index people in the United States earn around $54, 214 US dollars
annually. Comparing this number to their Canadian counterparts, the average Canadian earns approximately $44, 017 US dollars per year.

The average disposable income in the U.S. is $39, 531 US dollars, versus $30, 212 US dollars in Canada.

So, what do these numbers tell us?

Americans and Canadians do not have the same spending habits.

Target Corporation initiated the transaction of expanding into Canada after the recognition that most Canadians do cross-border shopping, and in most cases, will make a stop at Target. So, why did the allure end so suddenly?

The failed expansion of Target Canada rests in the difference of cultural nuances between Americans and Canadians.

As a corporate communication consultant, our first point of reference in garnering consumer support is to actually understand who our audience is, and how they buy. Target Canada is an example where expansion happened so rapidly without truly stopping to think about consumer differences. After all, most of us will assume there isn’t a huge variation between borders – but that’s where we’re wrong.

There were subtle signs of an attempt to make Target Canada much like their U.S. chain,
including ramping up their Black Friday Deals – a usual draw for Canadian consumers. However, spending habits on Black Friday for the average Canadian is far from their American friends. Most Canadian shoppers are more than likely waiting for Boxing Day Deals, a larger draw for Canadians over Black Friday. Plus, the average Black Friday shopper is more than likely headed across the border to capitalize on better deals and a wider selection.

For a Canadian living in the United States, I see a drastic difference between Target U.S. and
Target Canada. Target Canada is met by higher pricing and minimal selection. The draw between the two stores were extremely different. The expansion of Target into Canada failed to account for a variation in transportation costs and supply demand differences. All relevant to the Canadian consumer.

Furthermore, the slogan “One-Stop-Shop” doesn’t resonate with the Canadian customer. The Canadian consumer tends to shop sporadically, searching for deals across a number of different stores. Where “One-Stop-Shop” resonated with Americans due to ease of use and logistics, the same shopping mannerisms don’t translate synonymously between the two countries.

The learning curve for Target Corporation here, and any corporation looking to expand either North or South of the border, is to remember who is buying the product. It’s not enough to
assume cultural similarities or spending habits. It’s extremely crucial to recognize the subtle variations in how people buy, and the difference in purchase decisions when targeting (pardon the pun) a new audience.

Tweet me your thoughts! @Sam__Dickson

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.48.27 PM

 

The PR Story: Why controlling the narrative matters

image-93“It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.” Errol Flynn

For professionals in the public relations industry, a part of our job description is storytelling. We’re tasked with the goal of creating a story to go behind a brand, a product, or our client. It is a chance for us to think strategically about how we want our clients to be represented in their industry, as well as to their target audience.

The story that is created is a valuable asset. It is a unique representation of your client that helps differentiate themselves in the market, and to help establish ways for their audience to identify with their brand. Alongside any valuable asset come potential threats that could
compromise its worth.

Whether you’re facing a product recall, an offensive commercial, or a political candidate that has alienated a group of constituents, you lose control of the story. The story is now in the hands of the public, and how they view the narrative from the outside in is the only thing
framing their judgment.

As PR professionals, we are responsible for regaining control of the story. In other words, telling the narrative as it is within the organization. It’s about being transparent and honest to regain the respect of your most important stakeholders. Every hour in a crisis is crucial time. The longer you take to tell your side of the story, the more time the public and the media has to
create the story for you. It’s natural for humans to logically create reason, when reason isn’t given.

The point to drive home in this article is why controlling the narrative matters. For every minute you spend analyzing the crisis, your audience is losing faith in your ability to tell the truth. “Tell it all, tell it fast, and tell the truth” is the crisis management motto. As PR professionals, we have the skill-set to create the story. The story that is created for you isn’t always going to be the truth, making it difficult for you to reestablish trust with your stakeholders. The challenge is to tell the story before it’s created for you.

Why else does controlling the narrative matter? Sound off in the comments below or tweet me @Sam__Dickson.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.48.27 PM

Pitching on a New York Minute

image-91

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” – Robert Frost

Media pitching is on every PR pros’ task list. The art of writing a pitch is just that – an art. One can spend hours rewriting those three to five sentences in the hopes that their client or
company will be picked up by the journalist. Whether it’s an email pitch, by phone, or in person, strategic thinking goes a long way. So what are some tips to writing an effective pitch?

  • Be short and concise. It’s not easy getting everything you want to say into three to five sentences. This should be the rough rule for pitching by email. Anything more than a page will lose your reader. Remember, you want the pitch to lead into providing the journalist with more information. You do not need to include all the details up front.
  • Make it compelling. This is easier said than done. However, if you turn something boring into an interesting storyline, the journalist will have more incentive to pick it up. Journalists get hundreds of pitches a day. Try to be creative and catchy. Be sure to spend time
    thinking about a good subject line if you’re pitching by email.
  • Believe in what you’re pitching. One piece of career advice I’ve held with me is to make sure you believe in the client, company, or industry you’re working in. Your job will be more difficult if you aren’t invested in the outcome. You have to have faith in what you’re selling.
  • Personalize. No reporter wants to get a pitch that has been modified by only a name change. Spend the time reading the journalist’s latest articles and familiarize yourself with their topics. This will make your pitch more authentic.
  • Research, research, research. The last thing you want to do is pitch to the wrong
    reporter. Not only are you wasting your time, but also theirs. If you want to increase your chances of getting coverage, pitch to the right reporters.
  • Expect rejection. Maybe a similar topic has just been covered, or perhaps you didn’t get right to the point. Whatever the reasoning for a failed pitch, don’t give up. Go back and work at it.

What tips do you have for pitching the media? Sound off in the comments! Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 8.48.27 PM