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Brooke Morganstein

She Really Knows
Martha Stewart

By Jeanne Sager
NEW YORK CITY — October 8, 2004 – In the midst of the hoopla surrounding Martha Stewart’s path to prison, one face might have struck a chord in some county natives’ memories.
If your eyes were keen enough to see the younger woman accompanying the decorating maven out of a New York City courtroom earlier this year, you might have said, “Hey, I think I know that girl.”
And you’d have been spot on.
“That girl” was Monticello graduate Brooke Morganstein, a member of the New York public relations firm that has become “the voice of Martha” while she’s answered charges of conspiracy and other improprieties.
Although she’s a relatively junior member of the staff (Morganstein started with Citigate Sard Verbinnen in 2002, 12 days after graduating from Syracuse University), she’s been one of the folks fielding questions about everything Martha.
It’s been quite a learning experience for Morganstein, a 1998 graduate of Monticello High School.
Growing up, the daughter of Zane and Janet Morganstein wanted to be Katie Couric.
She entered Syracuse University’s prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and quickly learned that broadcast journalism wasn’t the place for her.
“I found there was going to be a lot of emphasis on being perfect,” she explained, from the right haircut to the right shade of lipstick.
“Right away, I said I’m not comfortable with that,” Morganstein recalled.
But she wanted to stick with her dreams – she stayed in the Newhouse school, switching her focus to the public relations side of the story.
Today she’s working with journalists day in and day out.
She’s handled the PR for mergers and acquisitions, sitting down with investment bankers to learn the ins and outs of the financial world so she can issue well-informed press releases.
And she’s been a major contributor to the public relations for Univision, the Spanish language media company.
Working with Martha has certainly been if not the biggest learning experience, then a highlight of her career so far, Morganstein noted.
She’s served with two of her company’s bigger executives on the Martha account.
“I was in the courtroom every day,” she explained. “I learned so much just from witnessing, firsthand, a trial – I’ve never served on a jury, and it was really amazing to watch our judicial process.”
She sat in a courtroom jampacked with reporters and Martha fans – a virtual media circus, and she was getting a ringside seat.
“The world was really watching through the television screen, and I was sitting right there,” Morganstein explained.
She was right there when Martha Stewart was convicted in March on federal charges of conspiracy, obstruction and making false statements stemming from her sale of nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone Systems stock.
So, the big question: what is Martha like?
Morganstein said her client is “very much a normal person.”
As for those famous temper tantrums, Morganstein didn’t comment.
She said Martha is a passionate woman, and noted that her conversations with Martha were generally more along the lines of casual chit-chat – a chance for a woman at the center of a media maelstrom to just talk about life.
“I would see her and speak with her one-on-one, but most of what we talked about wasn’t for the reporters,” she said.
Morganstein said the Martha she knows is “kind and intelligent.”
“Everyone sees the driven side of her, which she is, but she’s very kind,” she noted.
As for Martha’s decision to head to prison now, rather than waiting for the conclusion of her appeal, Morganstein said the statement issued by Martha is spot on.
“She wanted to just get it over with so she can get back to her company,” she explained.
Morganstein said she’s been faced with crazy questions of all sorts – with Martha expected to report to a federal prison in West Virginia by 2 p.m. this afternoon, the media is after every bit of juicy detail they can get before she’s incarcerated.
They ask where Martha’s eating tonight; they ask what color Martha’s pants are, even the cost of her pocketbook.
Morganstein said it’s all part of working for a high-profile client.
And she enjoys every minute of it.
“I enjoy working in a job that I’m just challenged constantly,” she explained. “You have to think fast on your feet.
“I realize not everyone has a job that they’re challenged by. I’m fortunate to be in one where I learn something new every day.”

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