Martha Stewart’s Bad PR Continues with Holiday Layoffs

 Martha Stewarts Bad PR Continues with Holiday Layoffs

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Martha Stewart Omnimedia

An unwritten rule in publishing used to be no layoffs between November and January. No company wanted to appear either heartless or desperate and ruin employees’ holidays. But just as print gives way to digital, so the old rules are broken in favor of the first law of business: survival of the fittest. And so last Thursday, Martha Stewart Omnimedia terminated 100 employees, roughly a quarter of its staff, two weeks before Christmas.

The move itself isn’t that big a surprise for a company that has been losing money steadily in recent years. Ad pages in MSO magazines are down, and the company ceased publication of two titles, Everyday Food and Whole Living, earlier this year. Television productions have also lost revenue.

While the terminations may save some money, the timing of them does nothing to stanch the flow of negative publicity for MSO including the recent court case with Macy’s. Now come terminations at the behest of new MSO CEO Daniel Dienst, described as a “veteran turnaround expert” by the Wall Street Journal. Stewart released the quote, “Dan has specific expertise helping companies run efficiently and productively.” This season Martha’s holiday cheer gives rise to nothing but scorn for the 100 employees whose got a gift wrapped pink slip for Christmas.

PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Martha Stewart Omnimedia.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Appearances can be aggrieving. When taking a company’s bottom line into consideration, factor in customer reaction. Martha Stewart caters to female consumers – specifically, homemakers. Really specifically, women who wouldn’t want their joyous holidays turned lean after being fired by a Scrooge. The timing for this could not have been worse. Tough decisions need to be made, no doubt, but timing in cases like this really is everything.

What did Castro Ask the Pope?

popecuba What did Castro Ask the Pope?

The PR Verdict: “B” for Castro for a clever PR move.

“And what does a Pope do?”  That apparently was the question posed by octogenarian dictator Fidel Castro to the Pope on his recent visit to Cuba.  The Pope, no doubt surprised, politely responded to Castro by talking of his ministry, his trips, and his service to the Church, so says the Vatican’s spokesman.

The Pope in his historic visit made a couple of vague digs at Marxism and spoke about the need for freedom, calling on both the USA and Cuba “to seek truth and choose the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity.”   Nothing too threatening for his hosts.

What else came out of the visit?  Christmas was reinstated by the Cuban regime as a courtesy to the Pontiff as was Good Friday.  Hassle free concessions from one of the world’s nastier dictators.

The PR Verdict: “B” for Castro and his cronies for a clever PR move.  He emerged as the “listening dictator” and by making a couple of smart moves, gave catholic minded Latin Americans something positive to talk about.

The Church and committed Marxists don’t usually get along.  What better way to reboot a tempestuous relationship than by asking a question? Castro’s headline-making ice breaker startled not only for its genuine weirdness but because it changed the dynamic of the visit.  Sounding more like a kid on a school excursion, Castro became the listening dictator not the dictator of famously long interminable monologues.  Smart move.

To read more click here and here.

What’s your PR verdict on Castro’s PR strategy?

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