Well, we can’t say we haven’t tried to help Conde Nast! Not once, not twice… but three times now a member of the publishing conglomerate has committed a major PR faux pas. The new flavor isn’t celebrating genocidal families or insulting those with Down syndrome – it’s good old fashioned conflict-of-interest.
While our past posts on Conde Nast family members were about PR crisis management principles, this one is more about poor media aesthetic. In this case, Details magazine brought in actor Ashton Kutcher as guest editor for its September issue. In those issue’s pages is a feature titled “The New Titans of Tech” that profiles four major online darlings: Airbnb, foursquare, Flipboard, and Quora.
Only thing is, as Gawker carefully outlines, Kutcher is a major investor in the first three companies. For purposes of public relations analysis, we can go beyond the readily apparent conflict of interest and instead talk about how this is another major chink in the armor of the greater Conde Nast brand.
After all, if such a blatant hoodwink is tolerated at one Conde Nast publication, what’s to say there’s any ethics code enforced at other publications? Each of its titles certainly deserves a presumption of editorial innocence, but what seems to be happening here is a crisis of confidence in content.
It’s safe to guess that with so many storied outlets in its stable, Conde Nast isn’t going to implode overnight. But time and again, we see that nothing is certain in today’s economy when it comes to assumed corporate stability. And with that comes serious PR repercussions. Just sayin’…