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Stewart speaks out

From Mary Snow
CNN

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Wolf Blitzer Reports
Martha Stewart

NEW YORK (CNN) -- It looked more like a talk show than a company meeting as Martha Stewart took center stage and hundreds of employees welcomed her back from five months in prison.

"I love all of you from the bottom of my heart," Stewart said, "and I'm really glad to be back home."

Stewart told the crowd she's gone through profound changes.

At times she sounded more philosophical than practical. The "how to" queen told employees they must now focus.

"This is what truly interests us, why we all come to work every day ... our passion is and always should be to make life better," Stewart said.

Stewart talked about the inmates she met, and even told the crowd one of them made the poncho she wore as she boarded the flight home.

From her departure from minimum-security women's prison in Alderson, West Virginia, to the release of pictures of her and her family reunited, her company is trying to put her prison sentence in the past.

"What they're trying to do is they're trying to change the image, they're trying to migrate from villainness to victim and to try and soften some of the rough edges that were exposed during the trial," said Robert Passikoff, who works for Brand Keys, a marketing firm.

Passikoff's firm found her brand suffered the most right after her conviction last year. While it has now rebounded, she still has customers to win back. The question is, can too much exposure hurt her?

"You can't be too nice," Passikoff said. "I don't think there's the ability to oversaturate in terms of who the woman is and what she's about."

And while Stewart received a warm reception at her company, her company stock didn't. It dropped for the second day since she's been out of prison.


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