New York: A five-minute faux pas by Citigate Sard Verbinnen saw Martha Stewart?s website state, ?I did nothing wrong? moments after the domesticity diva was found guilty March 5 of conspiracy, false statements, and obstruction of justice. The charges were related to a controversial stock sale by Stewart.
The strong statement ? which hardly conveyed contrition before the June 17 sentencing ? was removed and replaced with another in less than five minutes, said Matthew Benson, a principal at Sard. Firm CEO George Sard was one of the Stewart legal team?s main PR advisers on the trial.
Benson said the first statement was a draft of one of several prepared in advance and was mistakenly posted on the site (www.marthatalks.com) a few minutes before Stewart?s team at the courthouse signed off on the final wording. ?That brief posting error was unfortunate, but, frankly, we were pleased that the website fulfilled its purpose as a timely, high-profile channel of communications between Martha Stewart and the public and news organizations interested in hearing from her,? Benson said.
The second statement said that while Stewart was distressed by the verdict, she continued ?to take comfort in know- ing that I have the confidence and enduring support of my family and friends.? The original statement had the founder of a media and housewares empire taking comfort ?in knowing I did nothing wrong.? That statement was picked up by several media outlets.
Benson said that since the verdict came down, the website has had more than 6 million hits, and Stewart has received more than 27,000 e-mails. He said the firm was still going through the e-mails, but about 95%thus far support Stewart.
Since the site launched in June, it has had 29 million hits, and Stewart has received 133,000 e-mails.