Are any of us today impervious to an online attack of one’s image, one’s reputation, one’s business, one’s beliefs? It seems the freedoms the internet has offered are also the whips and bullets that can hurt and destroy us. While some might preach that if you hold yourself up and practice like a saint amongst saints then no words could possibly hurt you. Other says that a clean heart can’t be hurt.
In “civilized” Western countries that tout a fair and honest justice system a clean heart might not be hurt. You might just prevail in a court of law to protect your reputation and interests from an unfair attack. But that is only if you have the wherewithal to hire attorneys to fight the injustice. And if you do have the funds, will the slow wheels of justice take you out of business before the judicial system has made a decision on right and wrong?
Worse, the defamation attack doesn’t have to have an ounce of credibility! In the United States, perhaps considered the “land of the free” the constitution provides for the freedom of speech as a basic right and the right to anonymous speech at that. And so even worse, we sometimes don’t even know who is trying to take us down and end up fighting phantoms.
Someone, trying to get a business advantage, posts on a few different review sites some bad reviews, some defamatory material, and now you’ve entered the realm of “Online Reputation Management.” Depending on your business this could have devastating effects.
So where do we go with this? You’re naïve if you think you can get the lies removed through a letter of protest or writing your own review. But you have to start somewhere.
Online Reputation Management uses a multiple prong approach to deal with the problem.
Prong #1) Get a volume of good content in the form of your own website, blogs, up on the web. Get this content optimized so that it ranks high on Google. Some of this you can do yourself, some of it you might need a little help on from an SEO or Reputation Management Firm.
Prong #2) Find the source of the attack. Someone is behind it and you need to identify who. Don’t assume you know. You have to carefully track down the person or persons who are running the campaign. Some of this you can do yourself, some of it you may need help on from a Cyber Investigations Firm. People leave tracks when the post content on the Internet and a little work can uncover the source.
Prong #3) Launch your own counter-attack. Once you know who is generating the attack against you, you can launch your own. I must caution however, that you are moving into dangerous territory here. These propaganda attacks when built on a platform of lies can recoil and badly. So if you are going to enter into a counter-attack, be wary indeed and keep it to ground you can defend.
Prong #4) Possibly the most expensive, get it into the hands of a good Defamation attorney and let them go after the culprits. This can be costly, but sometimes is the only effective means to bring the attack to an end.
Prong #5) If your business is under this online defamation attack, the first thing you should do is pour the coals on Marketing and make your existing Marketing $ more effective. You cannot focus on the attack as it will tie up your days and funds. If the defamation attack is costing you 10 clients a week then make your Marketing more effective so that you are bringing in 11 more clients a week to make up for the loss.
It seems the freedoms the internet has offered are also the whips and bullets that can hurt and destroy us.