Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s trials and tribulations don’t mean that fundamental omni-media principals are wrong. MSLO was, from the start, a multi-media media company. It may eventually be digital-first sooner rather than later, but the company was built to leverage print, TV, digital, and even physical store presence. It reached its audience on multiple channels, sold ads and products across all, and vigorously cross-promoted.
No, MSLO’s struggles are very traditional. Among media, it’s a truism that magazines are the most personality-based: They rise and fall based on the energy and buzz generated by the likes of Tina Brown (Vanity Fair, the New Yorker) and Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner. Oprah and Martha are TV-centric examples. It seems like the popularity of the Martha persona may have run its course, and MSLO’s bench is thin. The company hasn’t tapped into social media currents as much as it should have, either.
Students of media will remember the odd synchronicity of MSLO’s IPO on the same day as that of another modern multi-media company, World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE may not be at its peak, but it’s going strong.