MSLO Changes: Susan Lyne and Wenda Harris Millard Explain

With all the focus on Yahoo, it might be easy to lose sight of the changes taking place at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO). Wenda Harris Millard’s appointment as president of media signals a shift in organization and an acknowledgment that broadcast, print and internet belong together. MSLO CEO Susan Lyne credits Martha Stewart with knowing that if they stayed in silos, the company never would be able to deliver. To break the silos and truly deliver cross-platform, Lyne decided, “we needed a really strong head of media,” she told me during an impromptu interview Sunday. MSLO already had access to someone with the kind of deep print and digital experience she wanted: board member Millard, who also has known Stewart for nearly a decade. It took months to achieve but MSLO has a new head of media and a new org chart that divides the MSLO world between media and merchandising. (It also has one less member of the board; Millard is stepping down.)

Among the changes:

— Sheraton Kalouria, president of broadcast, will continue to be responsible for broadcast operations and will report to Lyne. Sales and marketing move immediately to Millard, Lyne said.
— Lauren Stanich, president of publishing, will work with Millard and eventually will move into an advisory role.
— Holly Brown continues as president of internet and will report to Millard; the two were colleagues at Yahoo.

As a board member, Lyne said, Millard “has been critically important in getting us to understand both the internet opportunity this company has and the fact that we were better positioned for the marketing future than we recognized.”

Millard’s focus: During a separate interview, Millard talked of focusing on two goals: expanding digitally, including accelerating the changes at the site, and “pulling together big opportunities for marketers to leverage the passionate connection consumers have with this portfolio.” MSLO will look at international expansion, as well. One of Millard’s key tasks will be to work with Brown on the continued transformation of from an e-commerce site to “a truly dynamic home web site.” The site relaunched in April with a completely new platform; plans call for the doubling of content between now and the end of September. Lyne: “We’re also very focused on making sure our content rolls out across the web.” One example that I raised is the partnership with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Food, which she said has been going well but stressed that it is one of a number of partnerships.

Lyne’s last word: “It’s a whole new day for us as a company.”

That may be the case but MSLO still has the same challenges going forward: continue to build and expand brands that aren’t Martha-centric while making the most out its still-core Martha Stewart brand in a highly competitive space. And it needs to make money. Lots of it. More than it loses.

CFO Howard Hochhauser said during the Q1 earnings call that the company can double its advertising revenue in 2007 from $8.2 million in 2006 with much of that growth coming in the second half of this year. Millard needs to make sure that happens — and keeps happening.

More from Millard here.