Enters Rolling Stone Fray, Opining on Controversial Boston Bomber Cover weighs in on the social media firestorm surrounding Rolling Stone.

The old proverb says that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but according to Rolling Stone is putting that truism to the ultimate test. The long-running music and culture publication has ignited a social media firestorm–and some highly public boycotts–after its decision to put Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the front cover of its most recent issue. has weighed in on the controversial cover with a new statement to the press.

“It is not hard to see where Rolling Stone is coming from, yet it is also impossible to see this as anything other than slightly tasteless,” comments president Michael Zammuto, in a new statement to the press. “Many have criticized the magazine for placing this man in the same lofty position they might place a rock star, a respected politician, or a movie star. These criticisms are valid, and may do some minor damage to the Rolling Stone brand.”

As for whether that damage will outweigh the positive impact to the magazine’s reputation, Zammuto says it is a close call. “On the one hand, Rolling Stone will not be carried in major retailers like CVS and Walgreen’s, at least not for this issue,” he notes. “With that said, Rolling Stone originally staked its reputation on being hip, edgy, aggressive, and counter-cultural, and that’s an image that the magazine has lost over the years. So in some sense, this move may give Rolling Stone just the kind of branding boost it was looking for.”

Indeed, despite the protests, the social media melee, and a widely-read complaint letter from the Mayor of Boston, some experts say that Rolling Stone will emerge from this controversy no worse for the wear. “Retail sales are such small potatoes for magazines like Rolling Stone that the boycotts from companies like CVS are more symbolic than anything,” Zammuto affirms. “And indeed, we’re talking about a magazine that has famously run investigate reports on people like Charles Manson, so the brand-realigning it’s getting may be more valuable than whatever small revenues it is losing.”

As for how Rolling Stone might move forward, Zammuto says the magazine faces a balancing act. “It is important for the magazine to make clear that it understands the criticisms and that it does not take something like the Boston Marathon bombing lightly,” he offers. “With that said, if the magazine is trying to return to its roots of edginess and of long-form, investigative reporting–to distinguish itself from other pop culture magazines–then it is equally important for Rolling Stone to stand its ground.”

Still, the president says that this is not necessarily an example for other companies to follow. “While businesses may learn a positive lesson here about the importance of staying true to their messaging and their core identity, it is almost never a good idea to court controversy like this,” Zammuto concludes. “Rolling Stone may be able to get away with it, but most businesses would never be so lucky.” addresses the online and offline branding needs of companies around the world.

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