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Posts tagged ‘negative posting’

25
Sep

ReputationAdvocate.com Discusses Online Sites that Offer Ability to Post Negative Content

In the past several years, online review sites have become increasingly widespread and easily available, allowing consumers to query information about individuals, services and products. Seldom is the origin of the content questioned. At ReputationAdvocate.com we see firsthand that the lack of transparency by a reviewer/commentator – coupled with no attempt to independently validate claims – has created challenges that few imagined could happen.  When reviews are offered anonymously and statements, claims and criticism fill a review, it should raise questions of credibility – however many times it does not.

The team at ReputationAdvocate.com spends a lot of time listening to potential clients as they vent their frustration. ReputationAdvocate.com observes daily the inability to confront an accuser, attempt to rectify a misunderstanding or discuss an online opinion posted. The nature of these online sites is to allow free speech with anonymity. ReputationAdvocate.com empathizes yet delivers a straightforward message; the Internet does not play fair.

The challenge with many online review sites is that generally the posted comments, ratings and reviews face no review or approval process. The team at ReputationAdvocate.com knows that all too often these reviews are posted maliciously, with no recourse available when false and misleading statements are posted. As those of us at ReputationAdvocate.com have frequently pointed out, individuals seeking information online may not stop to consider the truthfulness of content found or the identity of the one providing the content. When people take online information at face value they set aside a natural filter that is used when engaging other forms of media observes reputationadvocate.com.

When taking calls at ReputationAdvocate.com, we often hear prospective clients make the assumption that a negative review is coming from an unhappy customer. In fact, these reviews could be coming from a related third party seeking an advantage by damaging the online reputation of the person or business named. As another post from ReputationAdvocate.com pointed out, “Jason M.” from Wisconsin could actually be an employee at one of that company’s competitors. The team at ReputationAdvocate.com has often noted that reviews can and do come from disgruntled former employees and dissatisfied current employers. “Consider the source” is difficult to apply in a world where anyone can pretend to be someone else at any time. There’s no way to prove Jason M. is in fact Jason M. at all.

So what can companies and individuals do when they find defamatory information on the Web? At ReputationAdvocate.com, the first question asked may be whether or not a customer or potential customers will see it. The prominence of negative reviews in basic web search determines how much it can impact a business’s bottom line. ReputationAdvocate.com regularly informs clients that many web searches rarely go past the first page or two of search results. If a rating site or opinion site has low authority with the search engines, such negative content may have little impact on the bottom line. Conversely, most rating sites that have high page rank can be very detrimental to a business. Many businesses are able to directly tie declining revenue to false online content. Thus, ReputationAdvocate.com discusses the economic evaluation process when a potential client is considering retaining the company to assist with derogatory content. ReputationAdvocate.com believes that any project considered to be tied to a return is clearly an investment.

2.3 billion searches are initiated on Google every single day. In many cases, the first source customers are using to find out information about your business is an online search. ReputationAdvocate.com will discuss this with you and is able to help evaluate whether or not such online queries are hurting your business.

If customers are presented with a hefty dose of criticism when they search for you or your business, ReputationAdvocate.com can help. With veteran specialists on hand to evaluate the specific origin, structure and authority of any given complaint, ReputationAdvocate.com recommends appropriate action to correct online presence and visibility and restore your ability to attract new business. The goal of our work at ReputationAdvocate.com is to deliver cost effective results that can be traced back to restored profitability.

ReputationAdvocate.com provides a free evaluation to all potential customers. During this evaluation, the experts at ReputationAdvocate.com will research your online presence and determine what ReputationAdvocate.com can do to help you re-establish your reputation online.  You are under no obligation by having this evaluation conducted. However, should you need the services of an online reputation company, ReputationAdvocate.com can customize an online clean-up plan to help you.

While it is said that people are innocent until proven guilty, Steven Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has interrupted such long held notions of justice. As managing director of Reputation Advocate, an online reputation management company, Steven Wyer now helps others who have been slandered online as he was. Adding the title of published author to his string of professional accomplishments, Steven Wyer has written Violated Online. In the book he offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you repair your online reputation, call 888-229-0746 or go online to http://reputationadvocate.com 

24
Jul

“Hacktivists” | A New Term but the Same Old Game

Given the damage that anonymous hacktivists and minority shareholders have done to the values of small cap stocks while standing on the Constitution’s First Amendment, companies are becoming more proactive in their online reputation defense strategies. While many small public companies are unaware of what can happen in a twenty-four hour period on the Internet, Reputation Advocate hears new horror stories every week.

Take, for instance, the following scenario. An adverse decision upsets a shareholder. Historically, that shareholder (let’s call him Bob) would attend the annual shareholder meeting and voice concerns while evaluating management’s recommendations. No longer. Investor Relations professionals are only as successful as the shareholders are willing to communicate. A question arises – what happens when Bob grows impatient and is not satisfied with a company’s response? The answer for many is found on the Internet.

It is currently estimated that there are more than 300,000,000 blogs created and maintained on the Internet. Wikipedia says that, “Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material.” Further, Wikipedia offers that, “Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.” Interactive messages, regular entries of commentary (remember the First Amendment?) and anonymity; it sounds like a potentially explosive combination!

In another scenario, Bob is holding a small number of Founder shares of a company. He purchased his shares initially through a PPM, the company went public and since then Bob looks at the stock value weekly. He is impatient, has talked to the IR firm and a couple of senior management people and he sees no decisive movement.

Several times, and without even thinking about it, Bob decides to let the world know about his discontent. In the good old days people would work to get a stockholder list and call or mail them a letter. Investor Relations could counteract and try and get in front of them, so to speak.  The First Amendment to the Constitution provides solid footing for all those desiring free speech. Governing laws, however, look much different for the Internet than for other forms of communication. Bob can broadcast any derogatory message Loud and Proud! Short of specific personal information such as a social security or tax ID, specific banking information, child pornography or a threat against the government, anonymous bloggers, forums, complaint sites and various customer-rating sites can be used against a company, its officers, directors and employees.

Bob suggests on a complaint site that the current CEO would serve the company better if he focused on the shareholders’ interests more, and golf a little less. Next, a blog is found bringing into question the compensation of management and the justification for such pay given the poor performance currently experienced by the shareholders. Finally, someone posts a picture from the annual company Christmas party; not naughty, but not nice. You can see where all of this leads. A relatively small shareholder base – fear and mild panic when Investor Relations doesn’t return a call quickly – possible shorting. And finally, as everyone knows, aggressive downward pressure on a small cap stock is always of interest to regulators.

This scenario is a competitor’s dream. Interest from a regulator, doubt about the viability of the company on a blog or two and a company that is not prepared for any of this, for after all they are busy running the company! If you are an officer or director of a public company what you are reading may sound like a doomsday scenario that could never happen. Really? Let’s add the dynamic of time; say three days.

In dealing with private and public companies, Reputation Advocate has seen many things happen that the proud and the powerful didn’t see coming and that hit with such force that the viability of the business faltered. These are often attacks that can actually be tracked back to ROI. Real cash flow constriction, real share value, real debt to income ratios impacted and real legal action. This is not a fantasy marketing pitch; it is real business in today’s climate of change.

An old saying asserts that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and so it is. All companies must keep a keen eye on digital threats. Proactive action and planning can provide a baseline of online reputation management that enables companies to defend themselves. I had a client recently refer to online reputation management services as the equivalent of digital liability insurance. There is a critical difference in this perspective, however. When damages are demonstrated, insurance provides payments that address the damage. Absent a company accepting the need and costs of online reputation defense, when damage occurs there is no compensation to offset damages. Only the damages remain.

While it is said that people are innocent until proven guilty, Steven Wyer experienced first hand that the Internet has interrupted such long held notions of justice. As managing director of Reputation Advocate, an online reputation management company, Steven Wyer now helps others who have been slandered online as he was. Adding the title of published author to his string of professional accomplishments, Steven Wyer has written Violated Online. In the book he offers more than 50 specific tips on how the reader can better prepare for an unexpected online attack. For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you repair your online reputation, call 888-229-0746 or go online to http://reputationadvocate.com 

27
Sep

The Alphabet Soup of Your Online Reputation, Part 1: SEO, SERM and ORM

Is there a difference between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Reputation Management?  Absolutely. In fact, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) or Online Reputation Management (ORM), are as different as night and day.  Just as night and day contribute unique roles in our world, so do SEO and SERM.

Search Engine Optimization has an important part to play in the online world of reputation management – promotion.  Good SEO companies can push the presence of a brand new website on search engines to the very top of the list.  Search Engine Optimization companies take static space (like a billboard in the desert) and bring it to “Times Square” visibility on the web.  The idea is to build a positive online reputation.  But what happens when someone else makes that online reputation not so positive?  That’s where companies like Reputation Advocate enter the online reputation management stage.

SERM and ORM companies like Reputation Advocate track actions and opinions, report those actions and opinions, and then move swiftly to counteract negative actions and opinions in order to preserve or restore an online reputation.  (How we do that, I will cover in a later entry.)  Once a person understands this, it quickly becomes apparent that Search Engine Reputation Management and Online Reputation Management are completely different from SEO work and requires an entirely different toolbox and skill set.

SEO companies use third party sites and keywords to push readers to a main company website.  Search Engine Reputation Management companies use third party sites and keywords to improve positive search engine results in order to successfully restore an online reputation.  So a company may want SEO consultation to drive traffic to their site.  But when the traffic is suddenly stuck in a snarl of negative comments or online slander, they need help from a SERM company like Reputation Advocate to re-establish their online reputation.

Reputation Advocate has worked with many clients who hired a Search Engine Optimization company prior to contacting us for help in rebuilding their online reputation.  While the SEO company may have done a great job of pushing their site to the top of Google, the online slander was still highly visible.  Again, SEO companies have an important role in online reputation but that is not necessarily repairing an online reputation.

At Reputation Advocate we have a unique prescribed method to ensure that what a client wants seen about them and their online reputation, is seen.  It is extremely labor intensive.  It is extremely time consuming.  It is strategically oriented to the max!  In fact, at Reputation Advocate we go way overboard in comparison to many other companies who offer online reputation management and repair services.  We have seen the unfortunate results when there are shortcuts.

To give you an idea, when Reputation Advocate works with a client we often develop 15 websites, send out a minimum of 5 press releases and write up to 100 original articles.  (That’s just the beginning.)  It is a lot of writing and work, but we “bomb” the Internet with “all that is positive” about our client.  Reputation Advocate’s tried, tested and successful online reputation management strategy virtually “erases” the visibility of online slander.  (Again, I will write more on that in a later entry.)

In conclusion, as important and different as day and night or black and white are, so are Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Reputation Management.  To promote an online presence, you may want SEO.  To defend and advocate for your online reputation, you need a SERM company like Reputation Advocate.

For more information about how Reputation Advocate can help you manage your online reputation, visit us online at http://reputationadvocate.com or call 888-229-0746.

2
May

VIOLATED BY COMPLAINTS | Reputation Advocate Discusses Online Reputation

Historically, when a consumer had a complaint about a product or services the dispute was presented to a creditable third party such as the Better Business Bureau or Consumer Affairs and a resolution was reached. These days, Reputation Advocate has seen Internet “complaint” web sites become the weapon of choice for frustrated customers, disgruntled employees, competitors, political activists and anyone with an ax to grind to air their complaints cheaply, globally and sometimes effectively.  Hiding under the cloak of anonymity and empowered by a worldwide audience, complainers have carried old-fashioned written complaints and tirades into cyberspace, and Reputation Advocate takes calls from their victims everyday.

Commuters arriving in San Francisco using the Bay Bridge were confronted with placard signs reading: “Had any problems at Starbucks Coffee? You’re not alone.  http://www.starbucked.com.”  The customer had taken his anti-Starbucks campaign to the world and the web using a not so subtle domain name that bore a striking resemblance to the stores name.

According to Reputation Advocate, companies face a challenging battle when attempting to take down this type of content. When the “complaint” site is engaged in commercial activity, Federal trademark infringement, dilution and trade libel laws may protect a company against disparaging use of corporate names and trademarks and confusing domain names.  However, when the purpose of the disparagement is solely customer complaints and parody, these laws provide far less protection, says Reputation Advocate.

Many companies are adopting other strategies as well.  Complaint sites that appear on third party servers, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo are generally subject to a web hosting agreement that specifically prohibits trademark infringements and offensive materials.  Upon receiving complaints of possible infringement and libel, Reputation Advocate has observed that Web hosting companies will generally remove such pages.  Recognizing the low cost of registering anti-domain names, Reputation Advocate recommends that companies register as many variations as possible for their Internet domain names in order to reduce the opportunities for disgruntled customers and employees to establish complaint sites with similar or confusing domain names.

Web sites bashing a company, its products, or its employees most often simply talk about bad customer service or a faulty product.  Reputation Advocate notes that there are so many that Yahoo! created a separate directory for “complaint” sites, posting everything from hard core consumer activism and anti-corporate back lashing to personal revenge and fictitious claims. As the Internet expands, companies need to publish and execute policies for effectively dealing with this type of slander.

Complaint Web Sites:  As Reputation Advocate has pointed out, the vast majority of complaint sites fall into the category of consumer complaint sites.  These sites typically collect stories of bad customer service or a faulty product.  The list of these sites is growing and Reputation Advocate lists a few specific examples below:

  • Chasebanksucks.com:  “The Right Relationship Means Nothing”
  • The Worst Bank in the Universe!” Reputation Advocate notes that this popular site features an animated picture of a man repeatedly relieving himself on the slogan “Chase Manhattan Bank Sucks.” It targets mortgages, credit cards and customer service. A bulletin board allows customers and ex-employees to gripe about every service Chase provides. The site also provides links to news stories about how “Chase’s ‘right relationship’ started with the Nazis during W.W.II” and how “corruption is alive and well at Chase.”
  • Starbucked.com:  The Starbucked web site tells the saga of a Starbucks customer and his fight against Starbucks’ corporate greed, all stemming from a defective espresso machine purchased.  Reputation Advocate says that the site offers consumer resources, a discussion board and a “case study” of the specific details of the customer’s complaint.
  • Untied.com: A mistype of united.com (for those looking for United Airlines) leads to untied.com, a self-defined whistleblower and complaint site created by anti-fans of United Airlines.  While Reputation Advocate says that this site was last edited in March of 2008, it is still available to the world and attempts to be a clearinghouse for passenger complaints directed at the customer service department at United.

While large corporations frequently retain firms like Reputation Advocate to provide proactive Domain Name Management, Domain Name Recovery and Online Brand Protection; small companies can be dealt a blow from which it may be impossible to recover. The real challenge comes from the fact that, in addition to specific URL targeted complaints, there are hundreds of general complaint sites. A customer, former employee or competitor can log dozens of complaints from a Blackberry or iphone while eating lunch.

For more information about this and other topics related to your personal or business online reputation management, contact Reputation Advocate at 888-229-0746 or visit them online at http://www.reputationadvocate.com.

1
Mar

MAKING A DIFFERENCE, NOT JUST AN INCOME

Everyone has to make a living. Some make it while practicing integrity and others in the shadows of questionable practices. The Book my family lives by says that the love of money is the root of all evil. But nowhere does it say that money itself is evil. Money pays the bills, educates the kids and allows for a little planning in life. It’s the “root” that creates the problem.

I decided to write this article after a few recent experiences in my chosen vocation; online reputation management. I spend all day, every day, listening to people who are being hurt by content that appears on the Internet about them. Some are being attacked professionally. Maybe they own a business and an ex-employee or disgruntled customer levels their scope and takes aim through the barrel of the World Wide Web. For others it is deeply personal – marriages, illness, mistakes long past but brought squarely to the forefront of their life again. If you don’t have empathy for people then this is a poor choice for vocation.

Which brings me to my point. Most people are attacked by someone that they know. A competitor, ex-lover, neighbor, jealous friend or a former employee, these are the underlying sources of most online slander. That fact seems to shock people when I first suggest it. Most complaints are not valid. Many times the complaint is so distorted that it’s laughable if you take the time to read it. But therein lies the big problem. No one reads the complaint, they just read the headline or metatag.

Since this year has begun our company, Reputation Advocate, has been attacked more than thirty times. At the office, we discuss the source and easily rule out our neighbors, former employees (we have none to date), friends (we have many) and romance gone bad (happily married now for 18 years). That brings us down to competitors. So let me circle back around to character and integrity and consider motive. In the big picture all boats rise together as the old saying goes. For the firms that provide quality service, stand behind their words and admit errors when they are made I believe that online reputation defense and management services will be needed for years to come; we can’t put this genie back in the bottle.

Attacking competitors is perhaps the lowest form of a business development strategy. With that said, I frequently deal with business owners who know that the online attack they need help with has come from a competitor; they see it in the language and detail of the false statements.

At Reputation Advocate, we have come to recognize the oily fingerprint delivered from across the ocean. To some, it’s highly ironic that we, an online reputation company, are attacked and have to defend and suppress content ourselves. But we knew this would be the case as we began. The anonymous nature of online slander lends itself to those who have no other strategy for business development. No one is immune. Many doctors get ill and die every year al the while attempting to heal others. This is true for both Reputation Advocate and our many clients.

What I attempt to convey to those who retain us is that there is no absolute online protection for anyone. On behalf of our clients we expend a great deal of thought and energy focused on the positive aspects of who they are and what value they bring to their customers. Presenting the truth professionally will always prevail in the end. Companies that provide service, products, integrity and honesty will always have clients, job opportunities and success.

For Reputation Advocate, as for most of our clients, our “product” makes a difference. We do not execute perfectly every time. We correct mistakes as we define and admit them. We treat our clients with respect. In exchange for that we derive income. For those firms that focus only on the last element of success – income – they miss the point. Making a difference in a client’s life, adding value and creating content that reflects well on the client is what will create true success. Complaining and sniping anonymously from the shadows will ultimately undermine any success that could be achieved.

So this is a message on behalf of all of our current and future clients. It is a message from Reputation Advocate to its detractors. It is a message to all of those defamed on the Internet that have not yet chosen to fight back. Provide service, treat people fairly, admit that you are not perfect, try hard and keep going. Make a difference in the world. Now that is success.