27Apr

As we predicted in our recent blog, following Target’s decision to allow transgender people to use restrooms and fitting rooms that correspond to their gender identity, the retail giant found itself in the middle of a developing PR Crisis.

The backlash started with the American Family Association (AFA), a conservative Christian activist group, which started a petition arguing that the store’s policy encourages sexual predators and poses a danger to women and young girls. The group’s petition, calling on its members to boycott the retail chain, has gathered more than 870,000 signatures to date.

Adding to the controversy is a recent Facebook post by user named Kathleen Crawford, that depicts two urinals in a restroom with the following comment:

“It’s true. ..I’m in the women’s bathroom at a Target north of LA…they actually took out a stall for women in order to accommodate the ones who have giblets…yes, these are urinals…for men…and so the war on women progresses. …”

This statement has since been proven to be false by Target’s representatives, but not before it went viral, accumulating more than 15,000 shares in less than a week.

These recent developments further highlight the need for Target’s communications department to stay vigilant in monitoring and responding to similar criticisms and misinformation in the coming months.

Moreover, as the retailer’s new policy has clearly caused a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation, Target could benefit from taking a more proactive stance in handling this PR crisis.

The company should take action and explain what implications its new restroom policy will (or will not) have on the overall customer experience. It should launch a separate PR campaign clarifying the confusion, extinguishing the rumors and incorrect allegations, and assuring its customers that the new policy will not put anyone in danger.

As the situation develops further, we will keep an eye on how Target will handle this PR challenge. In the meantime, let us know what you think about its new restroom policy and how the company should deal with the controversy.

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