Hindsight And Beyond, A Look At The Martha Stewart Case
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Hindsight and Beyond
In the wake of Martha StewartsÐ²Ð‚™s release from prison, we are able to look back at the mistakes that were made to cause her reputation and, quite literally, her stock to fall. Taking a look at everything that transpired leading up to her conviction, we will analyze where things went wrong.
StewartÐ²Ð‚™s first mistake was early on. On June 12, 2002, when news of the investigation broke, Stewart issued a statement in which she claimed that the sale of the stock was Ð²Ð‚Ñšentirely proper and lawful.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Denial is a risky maneuver when trying to manage a public relations crisis. Unless the party is 100% sure they did not have anything to do with the allegations or incidents, denial should not be considered as an option. Making a statement right after the news broke was a good decision and she could have taken advantage of all her media outlets to issue a sensible statement. Instead she chose to release a statement to the press in which she denied any wrongdoing.
The next mistake came shortly after the denial, when it had emerged that Stewart and her associates sold over $79 million worth of Martha Stewart Living Omni media stock. These actions spoke much louder than StewartÐ²Ð‚™s words of denial and this gave another public perception of deceit on StewartÐ²Ð‚™s behalf.
While trying to clean up these early mistakes, a decision was made to let Stewart continue to work on her TV segment for CBS. This was another error of judgment from StewartÐ²Ð‚™s communication team because of the scandal and perception the public already had of her. Stewart should have tried to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible until the entire scandal died down. Instead, by letting her do this TV segment, she was exposed to the media and consequently ended up making a statement that made her appear to be nonchalant about the investigation and the allegations against her. This did not help her public appeal.
Martha Stewart had begun her career with a girl-next-door image and a humble attitude that was able to run businesses, write books, create television shows etc. People trusted her advice because they could relate to her. This empathy from the public began to dwindle as she released scripted messages from her spokeswoman denying any wrongdoing. As the investigation grew, Stewart continued to remain in the public spotlight. She did one particular interview for The New Yorker Magazine, which was particularly damaging. As OÐ²Ð‚™Rourke pointed out, she Ð²Ð‚?blamed everyone from the media to her brokerage to public detractors for her spate of bad luck.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Shifting the blame did not fair well for StewartÐ²Ð‚™s image.
Another blow to her girl-next-door image was when those closest to her began to turn against her. During StewartÐ²Ð‚™s trial her assistant Ann Armstrong testified against her. If this was not destructive enough, she also testified about a comment made by Martha in which she said, Ð²Ð‚ÑšIsnÐ²Ð‚™t it nice to have brokers who tell you these things?Ð²Ð‚Ñœ This quote implies that Stewart felt that her status in society meant she shouldnÐ²Ð‚™t have to suffer the economic downturns that the rest of the world must. This was not a good comment to be leaked out.
Stewart and her camp made the final fatal error after she was convicted and sentenced to prison. At this point it is pretty clear that a wrongdoing of some sort has been done. This is where Martha Stewart should have apologized for all her previous actions and for not being truthful from the first day. Instead, Stewart manages to shamelessly self promote her products, and compare herself to persecuted anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela all the while still denying all involvement in