I´m a real Target client. I visit their store at least once a week, and I have to admit my shock when I heard the news about them closing their 133 stores in Canada.
Despite what might have happened with Target´s business in Canada, I wonder why this was so badly communicated in-house and for the external audiences. What I have read in the Canadian Media, International media and by the comments I still hear while shopping in the store, I feel a few things were not made to minimize the reputation impact this will have on the brand.
I assume Target has a big PR agency working for them, but honestly, as an outsider, I feel some steps were not followed or, perhaps, the possible reactions were taken for granted. The news spread within social media, and traditional media, before the employees were aware of it. I witnessed as one client shared the news to an employee who had no idea and was not even able to breathe.
I feel surprised because this is not the first time, or company, that announces a huge closure as this one, and there are many experiences that have taught what to do and how to do it to protect the company.
Today some Target stores have closed aisles for the groceries; employees still have no corporate message or training on what to say about this. If Target found out that the business was going to be profitable by 2021, as mentioned on the Financial Post (http://business.financialpost.com/2015/01/19/targets-severance-package-shows-the-good-side-of-employers/ ), why was it so difficult for them to adjust for that to happen. By the way, is commonly know that the 5-8 years is the basic North American time frame to see some profitable growth on any business.
Trying to share something about the complex communications and PR field on this blog and looking forward to read some feedback, here are some of the Basic Crisis communication strategy things you can think about before announcing a big closure:
• Establishing the creative and “decision making” team, including Canadian CEO, Legal Advisors, HR, and PR or communications team. Determine the responsibilities as spokespersons and set their ability to be reachable 24/7. Media training (this first step should have been done at least 3 months ago).
• Develop strong key messages that serve as the backup to explain the decision. Numbers, statistics and any information with the options the company managed to survive before. Next steps (the Calendar).
• Creativity with a detailed FQ&A inspired with what would internal and external audiences would worry and ask about.
• Prepare immediate Media relations, offering one on one session with top Canadian Media and opinion leaders for the business.