Reputation Management Online: Restaurant Owner Response to Customer Reviews Backfires

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There are many effective ways to manage your company’s reputation on the Internet. However, your reputation management activities should not include the mistakes made by a Canadian restaurant owner who because upset about negative client reviews posted online.

To retaliate, the restaurant owner set up a fake profile for her client on a sex-oriented website and sent out inappropriate related emails.

Now, the owner has been found guilty of criminal libel. This means she’s got massive legal problems in addition a reputation issue that’s far worse than if she had simply used legitimate reputation management SEO strategies and tactics.

If you’re upset about client reviews for your business on the Internet, consult with your Internet lawyer to map out a game plan to minimize the damage caused without incurring legal liability or further damaging your online reputation. Your Internet attorney can work with you and a legitimate SEO company to help repair your reputation.

Why your online reputation stinks

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Internet Attorney reputation management

Online Reputation Management

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 client 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 clients, suppliers, and others you do business with. Nothing presents you in a better light than a happy client 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

Seth Godin Jumps the Shark

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seth-godinFrom permission marketing fame to cyber greenmail shame, Seth Godin has finally jumped the shark. Spinning it as SEO reputation management is a kind way of describing this scam. What Godin has done is launched Brands in Public. Sounds innocent enough? Hardly.

Godin has put together hundreds of Squidoo pages for companies with major brands. A complimentary service? Done with permission? No. The aggregated content on these pages are determined by Godin/Squidoo…unless your company is willing to pay $400 per month in “greenmail” to control the content and spin it.

“If your brand wants to be in charge of developing this page, it will cost you $400 a month.” – Seth Godin

Because Squidoo pages rank high in the search engines, Godin is essentially telling these companies to fork over the money or have their online reputation interfered with by him because he’s using their keywords/brands to drive a lot of traffic to Squidoo.

From an ethical standpoint, there’s little separating what Godin is doing from cybersquatters who sit on domain names filled with the companies’ brands demanding unreasonable sums. Morally, it is similar to competitors  using the companies’ brands as keywords in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to drive traffic elsewhere. The main difference is the dollar amounts involved. Let’s say that 500 companies give in to Godin’s demands and fork over $4800 a year. That’s an additional $2.4 million in revenues generated simply using the “pay me or else” method of marketing.

Is this legal? I’m sure a few of the companies will be discussing the matter with their Internet and trademark attorneys.

Is it ethical? No.

I’m disappointed in Seth Godin.

You should be too.

Recommended Reading: Seth Godin Tries Out Brandjacking