Reputation Destruction and Crisis Management

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Source Title:
Reputation Destruction - QED
Story Text:

Jim Horton is talking about reputation destruction, and his post on ruined CEO reputation coincides with a story a friend told me recently of how he suspected one of his competitors might be spreading rumours about his company to damaging effect. Both are offline examples, so what of online reputation crisis management?

It's not an area i'm overly familiar with but it's certainly interesting. I've heard tales, as im sure many have of various ways in which to sabotage ones competitors online:

  • Bogus blog spam
  • Bogus email spam
  • Click fruad
  • Hate sites
  • Blog and forum comments attacking a company
  • There are probably many more...

With some of the above, particularly bogus blog spam, where you would, as the aggresor, go out and spam in your competitors name, it's easy to knobble a competitor, at least temporarily. In that example, just make several angry calls to his hosting company, many of them dont do any kind of investigation, they just turf him out rather than have the hassle.

And on the subject of hate sites, how about this post from Gary Stein that details how one dissatisfied hair transplant patient put up a site in the companies name, was sued, and won!

he judge determined that there was no copyright infringement because this was not commercial speech--the site was not put up by a competitor, nor would anyone confuse this site with the actual Bosley Medical site.

Off hand, i can think of at least to operations that specialize in knobbling online businesses, and i wonder just how big a business it is, and if there is a counter business of reputation protection...

Perhaps some of you in the know, could fill us in?

Comments

This is where your SEO comes in handy ...

http://www.google.com/search?q=nike+ceo

You don't need proactive reputation destruction when you cant optimize your site well enough for users who are searching for your management team.

 

It's a sad fact of the internet that even a half-assed Joe Job has the potential to not only damage your company's reputation, but can get you kicked off your ISP, take down your mailservers from bounced mail, cost you significantly in bandwidth and generally make your IT people wish they were never born.

Damage control, and online pubic postings

We've been in talks with a company whom pissed off lots of bloggers at one time. The effect is #2-100 in a search for the company name are negative blog comment pages. The person I talked to said his first 5-10 minutes on the phone is explaining why there's all the negative blogs about them.

They've learned some lessons from this (especially, don't piss off bloggers), and have changed the thing that pissed everyone off. Now they come to us for damage control, and we've got the unique situation of trying to target 30-50 other pages on the web which have good news and content in an attempt to push the negative blogs down in the SERPS.
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On another note, it's reasons like this why I've personally historically stayed rather quiet in the forums (until recently), and wouldn't jump in unless my company was mentioned and it started to get ugly....any time a company is mentioned in a pubic forum there's going to be someone to try to knock it - that's life.

There's something to be said about staying under the radar, and once your company/name is brought pubic, one should do all they can to ensure that the reputation comes out clean, otherwise damage control is going to cost you in time and money. It may even decide if you have clients, investors, or even a future.

 

Yes we recently got approached with a very similar project to you Jim, they had upset a couple of 'A' list bloggers and they were looking for ways of countering the damage. With the trackbacks and comments that propagated from these initial postings, it very quickly took up the SERP's for the company name.

It's amazing how powerful the blogs can be when collectively targeting a company. This form of 'mob justice' led by one or two influential blogging figures does leave me worried. Bloggers don't have any kind of journalistic pressures to confirm sources, or a standards committee overseeing them and as that link shows - they are covered under the law.

Worse still, if the company does repair the issue that was at fault, it is such a major job to clean up the results. For newspapers, today's news wraps tomorrows fish - with the net its a bit more permanent.

under the radar again.

that might be the company you're talking about... and yea, it'd be major job...and any SEO that took it on would really want to be under the radar on that job...would really hate to piss of thousands of blogger, I've seen what it can do.

 

Yes I wouldn't have taken the job. It was a huge risk and a very large amount of work, as you say, but the situation they were in was interesting. As Nick wrote here, not so much promotion but damage control.

Made a refeshing change from the 'usual' emails:

"I was thinking of launching a site on the topic of Mortgage /Dating / Holidays. I expect you to get our new site in the no. 1 position for all these keywords. What do you think?"

p.s. we do have a limited buget

:D

 

For newspapers, today's news wraps tomorrows fish - with the net its a bit more permanent.

And isn't that an odd turn of events? Everyone's always saying the internet moves and progresses too fast - but apparently not fast enough for negative press ;)

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