Earned media is unpredictable. While one day a company might receive coverage that frames it in a positive light, on the very next it can find itself facing an eruption of negative coverage. That’s what happened to Target last month as the holiday shopping season had the retailer making headlines for its good and not so good actions.
Target was one of the first retailers to close its doors on Thanksgiving during the pandemic to give its workers more time with their families, and has continued to do so every year since. This year, Target CEO Brian Cornell released a statement reflecting on the decision to keep stores closed every Thanksgiving Day, naming employees and their families as the key reason. This was picked up by several local news outlets, with ABC7 in Los Angeles earning over 127k engagements to its article published on Nov 13th, just five days after the initial statement.
ABC7 and its affiliates also posted about the CEO’s statement on their own Facebook accounts, which were met with hundreds of comments that were notably in favor of the company’s decision. In his statement, Cornell mentioned that customers would not “miss a beat of their Black Friday week shopping” even though stores would be closed on Thanksgiving, but it was Black Friday that unfortunately brought forth some negative attention for the brand, after a week of particularly positive coverage.
A viral video on TikTok seemed to suggest that Target was masquerading regular sale prices as new Black Friday deals, and it immediately sent the public into a frenzy, with many other creators posting videos of themselves inspecting sales inside their local Target, as well as other major retailers.
It’s interesting to note that while on social media there were heated conversations flooding everyone’s For You page, the media was focused on Target’s response to the matter. But ultimately, that’s not what captured the most attention. Even with the brand explaining that the sale seen in the video was actually part of its early Black Friday deals that were extended, the original video has collected over 3.8 million engagements on its own, and sparked enough debate that clearly overshadows the public’s interest to coverage of Target’s response.
So, this becomes a lesson that earned media encompasses much more than just what is written about by publishers online. While the Target CEO’s statement did generate more interest than the Black Friday scandal (in terms of engagements to articles), viral videos and content being shared across social media can’t be ignored, and they are now very often a significant driver of online conversation.
But what else made a splash in November?
The list of companies suspending advertising on X keeps growing
Elon Musk’s aim to loosen content moderation rules on X has made advertisers wary since the billionaire took control of the app over a year ago, and his criticism and recent comments over the matter has driven even more to pause or stop advertising on the platform completely.
Disney and Apple are the two top brands being mentioned in articles about the issue. Walmart has also found itself making numerous headlines for its decision to leave, but falls behind Disney and Apple in terms of engagement. And just in case you missed it, Musk responded in typical Elon Musk fashion.
Apple Music pushes its presence on Instagram
Finally, Apple Music made a big splash on Instagram in November, and it’s all thanks to K-Pop star Jung Kook. The singer celebrated the release of his debut solo album with an exclusive interview on Apple Music, and the post received nearly 2 million views.
Apple Music continued to promote the interview through a series Instagram Reels, all of which saw one million or more engagements. The videos were easily the brand’s biggest pieces of content in the last month.
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