Monday, 19 November 2012

Hi Crystall,

I first heard about your blog while listening to a radio interview following the US election. I found your comments to be fascinating and decided to visit your blog.

I am a Canadian and although I am not as intimately familiar with US politics as you, we Canadians are bombarded with US TV stations and hence US political news.

I should mention that I am a 31 year old Caucasian man. Although I do not directly identify with any particular ethnic group myself, being from a younger generation, I see how they are shaping western countries such as the US and Canada. Not engaging these groups would be political suicide.

Take for instance the Conservative Party of Canada. Although not connected to any political party in the US, they do offer an excellent example of how to engage ethnic communities.

They are a right of center party that had spent 13 some years in opposition (we use the British Parliamentary system). Once forming government, they quickly adopted a plan to engage groups such as the East Indian community, Chinese, Ukrainian, etc. Although Canada is not home to a large black community, the principles behind engagement are similar.

The Conservatives sent questionnaires to various ethnic communities determining what was important to them, engaged ethnic leaders and advertised in ethnic neighborhoods using their mother language. Additionally the Conservatives brought community leaders into the party, and helped many of them run as candidates.

Of course this did not assure 100% of the votes from any community, the numbers of non-Caucasian/non-Canadian born supporters has risen substantially.

Take for instance the Canadian election of 2011, the Ukrainian community, a long time Liberal Party base, voted strongly Conservative. Many people in this community held strong conservative values, but never recognized the Conservative Party as a vehicle to further their cause. 

Likewise many other ethnic groups in Canada hold socially conservative values and would align their values with the party if they recognized the party as supporting their interests/views.  In my opinion many cultural groups likely don't see how some of their values are actually conservative. It is the job of conservative leaning political parties to hit the grassroots of these communities as part of a national PR campaign. Any successful party must be representative of the all the ethnic groups that make up the country. Especially the ones who will likely vote for you.

The overarching strategy for the Republican Party, in my view, should be to demonstrate the shared values between the Party and their target ethnic communities. I don't know what mechanisms are in place in the GOP, but I would think that researching your target demographic would be a good start. Find out who among them are likely to support the GOP. I would think that religious leaders in the black community, for instance, would be natural allies for the Republicans. Doing your research to find out where these potential supporters live and find out what this cross section believes to be important. This would lend itself nicely to engaging the movers and shakers in this demographic. I think that this would build a strong foundation for a national PR plan.

I am not arguing here that the GOP should only run black or Latino candidates, what I am suggesting that the GOP strategically chooses messengers (as you alluded to in your blog) that represent various voting groups. A white candidate may be what is needed to win the white vote, much like a black candidate may be needed to win the black vote.

A presidential candidate for instance may not be both black and Latino, therefore the GOP must have the mechanisms in place to engage the other communities as needed. The get out the vote (GOTV) is vital in any campaign. In Canada, the Conservatives have successfully courted ethnic leaders and have even reached out to their home countries by having prominent members of the party travel abroad.

This is just my two cents.

Targeting Target’s Audience:

In order to determine the tactics of your PR plan, you must lay the foundation of good, solid research. In order to assess what tactics I would use to reach the target audience, I would like to provide a snapshot of the Target shopper.

Target’s customer base in the United States break down as follows:

-         The median age of a Target shopper is 46 years old, younger than other major retailers.
-         43% of shoppers are college educated.
-         More than half are employed in professional or managerial positions.
-         80-90% are female.
-         38% have children at home, a figure that is higher than other major retailers.
-         The Target shopper has a median household income of $55,000.
-         Target shoppers appreciate companies who give back to their community.

These figures can be verified by visiting the following website.

This tells me that the typical customer is of a woman of higher than average socio-economic status. She is educated, is family oriented and believes in the well-being of her community.

To address this audience I would point to some research about this demographic. For instance, studies show that two-thirds of 35-54 year olds now use social media and that 86% of these users are on Facebook (See

Keeping this in mind, my tactics would be as follows:

First, I would create a Facebook page outlining cheap brand name products coming to their city. Each city would have a unique page demonstrating how the community will benefit from the Target stores set to arrive. Discussing issues job creation to community fundraisers as added benefits to having Target stores established in specific cities.

Additionally I would use other social media sites such as twitter and LinkedIn. These sites are used less than Facebook, but they do reach a unique demographic.

Second, I would run ads in local news papers where Target stores are expected to arrive. According to ComBase research, 74% of adults are readers if community newspapers. Likewise, 9 out of 10 adults are readers of either print or online community newspapers. (See This will demonstrate Target’s understanding of the local area and show support for community based newspapers.

Third, I would organize press conferences in the major markets that Target will be occupying. Although you may not be able to do a press conference in every Canadian city, perhaps breaking down the press conferences to cover Western Canada, Central Canada and the East Coast so as not to show regional preference.

Fourth, I would create an app for the grand opening. By the end of 2013, nearly 30% of Canadians will access the internet with their mobile devices (Please see  The app will be a quick educational breakdown on how target gives back to the communities in which they operate. It would provide examples and links to websites that prove the statement. It will also give people an opportunity to direct their concerns to the company should they have any questions about Target coming to Canada, they will be redirected to the Target Q and A page.

This could also lead to an ongoing app that also allows people to recommend and/or petition Target to take on certain causes. This of course will be limited by budget and legal implications.

Fifth, plant a story on several financial newspapers online and print editions, demonstrating the financial benefits of Target coming to Canada. This can either be used to attract investors or provide hard and fast proof of the benefits to increased retail competition for consumers.

Finally, use a Canadian celebrity such as Ryan Reynolds to endorse Target’s presence in Canada. He could appear at a press conference or organize a gala event with Ryan Reynolds being the guest of honour.

Using these tactics fit nicely into the RACE model. These tactics were developed based on researching the target audience, the tactics communicate a message to the target audience and the results can be evaluated. Additionally you can advise upper management that these tactics not only address the public, they also target potential customers, who are the reason why Target will be relocating to Canada in the first place.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Devil is in the Details

Ask anyone you know and chances are that they have heard this idiom on a number of occasions. Illustrating the importance of paying attention to details is equally valid in a reputable PR campaign.

In class we have been told that as PR professionals we must be mindful of details. However every class we are reminded of how important it is to pay close attention to details. Key concepts such as understanding your audience, formulating your key messages and creating a meaningful strategy all infer a need to pay attention to the particulars.

When developing a strategy, for instance, you are deciding on the overarching plan of how you want to accomplish your goal. Within your strategy you then develop a comprehensive checklist of activities that will help you unroll your strategy. This checklist, more accurately referred to as tactics, may include such examples as organizing a press conference, writing an article in Time magazine, reaching youth through social media etc...

Considering al of this, you decide to organize a PR campaign to help raise awareness for human trafficking. This problem of modern day slavery seems to be better understood by younger Canadians and less so by seniors. You know that seniors would be equally outraged by the crime so you decide to reach out to them. Your team is very experienced in reaching youth and less so with seniors. Without going any further in this scenario, you can foresee some serious problems.

After you reuse an old strategy from a previous campaign, you reuse your old tactics. For instance you decide to reach out to seniors by:

- creating a social media campaign
- seeking a pop star celebrity endorsement
- organizing several interactive online town hall meetings

This may seem like an obvious failure from the beginning, however there are real life examples of campaigns that miss the target completely. What’s worse than your target audience would not being reached? Having them find out about your obvious blunder and losing your credibility.

Let’s look at a real life example where a PR campaign went awry. posted a PR gaffe titled Coca-Cola Passes Blame for Graffiti Campaign. Essentially Coca-cola hired an ad agency to advertise for the cola company leading up to the NCAA final four matchups in New Orleans. The ad agency stencilled ads for the Cola company on flagstone sidewalks in the French quarter of New Orleans. Unfortunately they did not seek the required approval to do so from city council, causing a national flap and bad coverage for Coca-Cola.

Although this may on the surface seem like an attractive tactic for Coca Cola, the ad agency failed to check city by-laws and cultural sensitivity. Every PR professional must understand that different cultures view advertisements differently. Before going into a French neighbourhood that is completely surrounded by English speaking Americans, you need to consider the potential reaction.

Not being privy to the inner workings of this campaign I can only speculate as to what happened. However all strategies should involve basic elements like cultural outreach and local advertising laws. This would then trickle down into the detailed tactics where team members can research the needed information.

You can find this Coca Cola incident at:

That’s all for this week, join me next week as we discuss the ‘C’ in the RACE model. If anyone has anything to add, please feel free to comment. Perhaps something related to the US federal election?