Target wonders: Do you like us?

A day after the stock of Target Corp. was downgraded because UBS worries that it might be losing customers, comes word that the Minneapolis-based retailer has hired a public-opinion firm to see what people think of the chain.

The hiring of Texas-based Public Strategies Inc. came before the downgrade, but would seem to address the same basic issue.

Says a Bloomberg News story published in Finance and Commerce:

The firm will “offer recommendations that will inform our long-term strategies,” according to a Sept. 21 letter sent by Target Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregg Steinhafel. The firm will survey a “variety of constituents,” including media representatives, said Susan Kahn, a spokeswoman for Minneapolis-based Target.

“For a company like Target, a national company, it makes sense obviously to understand how we’re perceived externally,” Kahn said by telephone Tuesday. “That’s the focus of this effort.”

That makes sense, says a PR guy:

“Even if it’s just a preventative measure for Target, it’s a smart move and something that more large companies are considering in this climate,” said Nu Wexler, an account director at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. Both Ogilvy and Public Strategies are owned by WPP Plc.

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