Martha Stewart : Saying nothing is ruled out
The stick-your-head-in the-sand approach taken by the company to bad news just doesn't work on the web.
Martha Stewart is the American ‘Goddess of the Home’ – her $300m revenue company produces books, magazines, television programmes and, of course, a website. But she is all over the media at the moment not for her omelette recipes but for an insider trading investigation and related indictment that forced her to resign as chairman and CEO last Friday. If you are truly assiduous, you will be able to find acknowledgement of this on marthastewart.com: search “Other press releases” in the investor relations section. Type in www.marthatalks.com, however, and you will find her personal site – with direct rebuttal of the accusations and a mass of rather sugary messages of support.
The stick-your-head-in the-sand approach taken by the company to bad news just doesn’t work on the web.
We can be sure that journalists, investors and many other people will have headed to marthstewart.com to get the company’s line on the scandal, and were frustrated to find so little. That the press release is hidden away and so blandly worded – the headline is “Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Puts Into Effect Senior Management and Governance Changes” – suggests that the company believes it can ignore the interest groups (not least Martha’s “loyal supporters” and customers) whose backing it desperately needs.
Ms Stewart’s own site, by contrast, makes good use of the web to fight back (but is nowhere flagged on the company site). We might wonder though why the company declined to use its site for “reputation management” when she was still boss: the insider trading allegations came out last year. Since then, according to Brand Keys, a consultancy that measures such things, allegiance to Martha Stewart products has dropped from 120 out of 150 to 79. Some sort of statement, linked from the home page, should have gone up as soon as the allegations emerged.http://www.marthastewart.com
First published on 10 June, 2003