Martha Stewart Case Study

Topics: Public relations, Communication, Martha Stewart Pages: 7 (1740 words) Published: October 9, 2014
Throughout the case study on Martha Stewart, evidence provided illustrates how public relations can alter the image of a national personality in both negative and positive lights. In particular, the case illustrates how Stewart’s initially poor public relations responses tarnished her image and, only after changing her tactics, did she actually work toward correcting the problem. Ultimately, the Martha Stewart case is pivotal in illustrating how the power of public relations, if used correctly, can revamp a person’s public portrait----even if formal charges of criminal activity exist. Martha Stewart, a “model student” and iconic legend of the kitchen, has been world renown for her success and outspokenness in the past; however, upon receiving allegations of insider trading, Stewart actually became a ‘silent diva’ by inevitably isolating herself from all media and society (Seitel, 17-18). Although this initial public relations response helped Martha avoid responding to the pressing questions from the media, I believe that her silence was counterintuitive to proving her innocence in the sense that her natural personality was “typically feisty” (18). Using logical thinking, most Americans accused of a crime that they were not responsible for would protest, appeal, and flat out become outraged----actions that an already “feisty” Stewart surely would have carried out had she truly believed in her innocence. By remaining silent and withdrawing from her daily life on talk shows, lectures, and as CEO, she in fact confirmed the already held perception of her guilt. By essentially shutting out the public, Stewart in effect was violating the public relations principle of “continuous two-way communication to prevent alienation and to build relationships” (6). Essentially the alienation of a “woman who had seemed to be everywhere [and] was now virtually out of sight” allowed for the ‘experts’ to create their own takes on what she was doing with her spare time (18). Although the problem of silence seemed bad enough for Stewart, the situation became worse from a public relations standpoint when Stewart made a half-hearted attempt to proclaim her innocence in June 2003 on a “personal Web site on which she proclaimed her innocence and insisted she would fight to clear her name” (18). Quite clearly, Stewart’s main problems in this particular case involve her reclusive actions and feeble attempts at proclaiming her innocence. Before adopting an effective strategy (which Stewart would eventually implement), an analysis of the problems is requisite to understand the impact of a suggested course of action. Primarily Stewart’s public relations efforts were in vain because one minute she was isolating herself from the media and the public in an obvious admission of guilt while the next she was trying to connect and build relationships with her supporters through her personal Web site. The concept of creating a personal Web site that declared her innocence would ordinarily result in a positive contribution to her overall public relations objective of raising public support and strengthening her relationships to the media and society; however, her lack of consistent communication with the public inevitably thwarted any attempt of actually achieving this goal. In short, Stewart’s actions of silence as a sign of admitted guilt were not in accord with her overall public relations objectives of gaining public support for her claims of innocence on her personal Web site. To elaborate further, from a communication theory standpoint, Martha Stewart (the source) issued two messages (one of guilt and one of innocence) based on the way she chose to encode her messages (silence indicated guilt while web communication indicated innocence). Stewart also exhibited poor management of her message mediums when she refused to speak to the mainstream media and instead concentrated her efforts on a single website. Through her silence and...

Cited: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. “On September 15th, Martha Stewart Throws Open the Gates of Her Bedford Farm to Celebrate the New Season of ‘The Martha Stewart Show.’” 27 August 2008. Martha Stewart.com. 16 September 2008. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=96022&p= irolnewsArticle&ID =1193763&highlight=
-------------------------------------------. “Fine Living Network and Martha Stewart Whip Up Whatever, Martha!, A Frothy, Funny Original Series Showcasing Martha Stewart 's Most Memorable TV Moments.” 11 August 2008. Martha Stewart.com. 16 September 2008. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=96022&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1194420 &highlight=
Robertshaw, Nicky. “PR exec hit with insider trading on Crowley Deal (Anthony M. Franco).” August 1986. BNET Online. 14 September 2008. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb4298/is_198608/ai_n15005077
Rosen, Ellen. “Rise in Insider-Trading Cases Shows the Perils of Pillow Talk.” 24 August 2007.
The New York Times Online. 14 September 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/24/business/24trading.html
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