Great cause supported by next step in communication

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative certainly is a noble cause, but more than that, this is a prime example of Walgreens' active pursuit of an experience with its audience through the mediums that that audience chooses — in this case, Twitter. It represents a new paradigm in marketing as drug retailers and others swap a consumer reach and brand identity proposition for one of engagement and presence.

(THE NEWS: Walgreens hosts live Twitter chat around its new REDI program. For the full story, click here)

That doesn't mean reach or identity have become passé, necessarily. There's still a need to advertise to the masses and establish that traffic-driving raison d'être. But it does mean that's no longer good enough. Today's marketer needs to establish a humanized presence beyond the store clerk or cashier — a humanized presence that actively engages consumers one-on-one across each of the social media platforms.

That becomes most apparent across initiatives like Walgreens' REDI, which is a cause around which people get extremely passionate. It's a passion that extends well beyond those persons with disabilities, the benefactors of an initiative like this, and includes the advocates and family members for that under-employed, under-appreciated group of workers.

So it can't hurt that that universe of passionate advocates now can identify with @WAG_Deb, the Twitter account for Deb Russell, who serves as Walgreens' manager of outreach and employee services. Now those advocates can identify someone at Walgreens who shares their passion.

It's not just happening with Walgreens. It's not even just happening at retail. Establishing that engagement and presence is becoming more and more a quintessential aspect as to how a reader engages a news organization, in our case Drug Store News (or DSN in Twitter-ized shorthand).

If you don't already, follow DSN on Twitter (@DrugStoreNews) and make sure you get the most important news in our industry as it happens. And if you don't tweet, that's OK, because like Walgreens, DSN also is on Facebook where we cater more to consumers with new product news and LinkedIn where we keep executives abreast to the latest news and dealings in the retail pharmacy space.

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