Prospective clients come to me as an Internet attorney to clean up a mess when their reputation online has been damaged by negative content posted on third party sites, such as consumer protection websites. Because I focus on growing lawsuit-free Internet businesses, damage control after-the-fact seems like a waste of time because the issue typically could have been prevented in the first place.
These negative comments are often the result of someone pretending to be an innocent customer when in reality it’s a competitor or someone else with a grudge trying to put you out of business.
You’ve already lost the debate if you’re reacting instead of shaping your story online. You want to put your best foot forward by encouraging positive feedback from your customers, suppliers, and others you do business with. Nothing presents you in a better light than a happy customer using their own words to deliver a message you want to see online instead of negative reviews and complaints.
What if you’ve screwed up? Work with your Internet attorney to map out a game plan that limits your liability exposure. And take corrective action a.s.a.p. If your lawyer agrees, consider issuing a “we goofed and here’s what we’re going to do to fix it” statement.
If you don’t know how to shape your online reputation, a good starting point is heading over to Marketing Pilgrim to check out all the stuff written by online reputation consultant Andy Beal.
Remember that it’s ideal to protect your reputation online in the first place by creating the content that you want seen as search engine results when someone is looking you up or your business using Google, Bing, or Yahoo. If you’re at a point of playing SERM catch-up or heading to court to try to stop the public relations bleeding, you’ve already lost the war even if you win the battle.
To your online success!
-Mike the Internet Attorney