For how few female super-moguls there are, they sure seem to run into quite a few scandals. In the wake of a few racist remarks made by comfort food giant Paula Deen, another female CEO is weighing in on the issue.
It's no surprise that Martha Stewart has gone on record as saying she feels sorry for Paula Deen. Featured on Andy Cohen's Watch What Happened L!ve program, Stewart was asked point blank what she thought about the recent Paula Deen scandal.
"She's a public figure...you have to be extremely careful," the crafty maven said.
Stewart should know – she was imprisoned for insider trading and still managed to make a comeback. Her time in prison and guilty verdict of insider trading has been forgiven by the public. She was already nestled well into the hearts of many Americans, and when it comes down to it, insider trading apparently isn't that big of a deal according to fans.
This is due, in large part, to Stewart’s continued ability to reinvent herself and reach new customers, mostly through online avenues. By developing products like phone apps and continuing to dominate the Internet through a wealth of online recipes and forums, Stewart has regained her spot as the queen of home decor, design, and entertainment. It is safe to assume that Deen will do the same.
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Silencing Scandal with Technology
However, despite their downfalls, both women share a few positive characteristics that many aspiring CEOs could benefit by absorbing, especially when it comes to their new tech heavy business.
1. Breaking into Apps
Apps have been all the rage for quite some time now, yet many businesses are slow adopt developing the technology. However, both Deen and Stewart were quick to create apps that are now used by millions of loyal customers. Both Deen and Stewart have developed recipe apps that have been downloaded thousands of times and keep them at the forefront of their market.
2. A Social Media Smorgasbord
With well over 3 million Twitter (News - Alert) followers between the two of them and a thriving presence on Facebook and Pinterest, both Deen and Stewart have opened tons of different ways to contact their customers directly. The instant access to their fan base not only allows them to control some information and tell their side of the story, it also gives them a chance to remind their fans of what made them great in the first place.
3. Pushing the Boundaries of Website Quality
It seems like a no-brainer, but having an extremely high-quality, user-friendly website is something that many businesses overlook. However, since getting out of prison, Stewart has branched out while still continuing to work on her home, craft and cooking empire. Her new website is very popular, but she's also becomes a spokesperson for online dating, thus widening her presence.
As the fallout from the Deen scandal settles, it will be interesting to watch the ways in which she continues to push forward online, but is safe to say she will have to tread lightly as many of her sponsors, like Target, have already moved to drop her.
The Value of Lessons Learned
As smaller businesses struggle through bad Yelp (News - Alert) reviews and other small-scale scandals, it is important for them to keep these lessons in mind – a consistent, high-quality web presence can eventually overcome most PR problems. Consumers are often quick to forget and remain loyal toward free resources.
The good news about Deen is that the scandal isn't directly linked to her empire--cooking. She didn't cause a salmonella outbreak or get caught licking taco shells like some other recent "cooks." By keeping the scandal separate from her empire, recovery is definitely possible. Will she be able to tough out the storms to forge a new path?
It's too soon to tell what Deen's next move will be, but she needs to strike a balance between staying public and not going overboard. Nobody wants an overexposed celebrity, even if they're surrounded by a scandal, and it can be difficult for celebrities to see if they're in that danger. Deen's empire hasn't crumbled yet, but it's definitely on shaky ground and demands her to step up to the plate. Whether or not she thrives or fades into oblivion is in her hands.
Edited by Blaise McNamee
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