Managing Corporate Online Hate


While I’m certain she wasn’t pondering online reputation management, Taylor Swift had it right when she sang “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate” in her hit single “Shake it Off.” Online hate remains a major problem in business today, and sadly, we can’t always just take the pop starlet’s advice and roll with it.

Hate blogs and hate websites can pop up overnight, and if written by clever authors, can quickly rise to the top of search results. Reputational and economic damage frequently follow.

When confronted with negative online content that hinders your business or damages your organization’s reputation, the best advice is to remain calm and make a sound assessment. While the first reaction may be to blast away at the hate blog, defamatory post, negative news article or nasty review, we have found that it makes more sense to slow down and develop a strategy before confronting the source—assuming you can figure out who posted the negative information in the first place.Read More

Being “Off the Grid” May Damage Your Online Reputation

In the past year, I’ve become increasingly interested in the world of online reputation management and helping executives and other professionals to counteract negative articles, blog posts, and other troubling web content. A couple of things have caught my attention. The first is that almost everyone I speak with has a story (often a horror story) about how a friend or colleague felt victimized by negative online content. Negative reviews impacted business, social media missteps hurt an applicant’s chances of getting a job, and online stories (true or otherwise) injured people personally and professionally. The prevalence of this has surprised me.

The second thing that caught my attention was the fact that so many professional people have no control of their online reputation—on purpose.

While rare, I still meet executives whose companies don’t have websites. And many professionals proudly say that they aren’t on Facebook or Twitter and don’t pay much attention to their LinkedIn profiles. They believe that the less information about them online the better, and this is often paired with an opinion that social media wastes time or is invasive. The strategy—if you can call it that—appears to be that they believe they can control what is said about them online by saying very little. They believe that they can be “off the grid.”

Big Mistake
But then something goes wrong, and they find themselves knee deep in an online problem without an Internet presence to leverage in their defense.

In one case, a successful executive found himself in a bad relationship with an extremely bitter yet web-savvy woman. He said one thing, and she said another; but she said it online, and all of a sudden, he was trying to explain what happened to his friends and family, who were seeing salacious accusations online that were now dominating search results for the guy’s name.  Because he had no real online presence and was “off the grid,” the only information anyone was seeing online was bad.

So what did this guy do? He called an online reputation management company, and they started a suppression campaign. This entailed trying to flood the search engines (which means Google) with positive content about the guy; this would “push down” the negative stuff—hopefully. But guess what? The first thing the suppression companies did was create social media accounts for him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and so on. Yes, these are the very sites the guy had been avoiding while he was out selling his wares, making his millions, and focusing intently on his company.

The Double-Edged Sword Known as Authority
While the guy was ignoring social media, these sites had climbed the ranks to become the most authoritative properties on the Internet. More people visit Facebook than any other place on the web, and Twitter and LinkedIn are not far behind. This concept of authority is extremely important when one is dealing with online reputation situations. You see, your profiles on Facebook and Twitter usually outperform your company site on Google searches. Even the Twitter page for Warren Buffett pops up at number five on Google, ahead of The “Oracle of Omaha” last posted one of his five tweets to his 930,000 followers last February. Social media sites remain a powerful force in influencing search results.

Some People Have a Problem with Authority
Yet, in many instances, the online problem has a higher authority than your Twitter page—or any other page, for that matter. How Google determines authority in search results is not a topic that I can address. Algorithms and I do not speak each other’s unspoken language. What I do know is that, sometimes, a news story or prominent blog post finds a home on page one of your search results, and suppression tactics don’t do any good. In this case, you need to engage a specialist who can dig in and look at all possible options—legal, covert ops or otherwise.

The moral of the story is that being “off the grid” may seem like a good idea, but it may come back to haunt you if something goes wrong online. Just as every business needs a reputational firewall, every professional person should take control of their online reputation as a key part of their career advancement strategy.


Uh-Oh, Girl Scouts Changed Thin Mints

Now Vegan jpg David PR GroupIt’s Girl Scout cookie season, and I know this because there are 17 cases of the tasty treats in my living room. This annual resolution buster, happily nestled between Christmas and Easter, marks the biggest annual fundraiser for Girl Scouts, and cookie selling remains an iconic rite of passage for young girls (and their moms) throughout the United States. My daughter began selling the cookies seven years ago, and I have helped sell them at my office, loaded the car for booth sales throughout our neighborhood, and wolfed down more than my share of Tagalongs, Samoas, and Do-si-dos. (You can keep the lemon ones and the logo-emblazoned butter cookies.) But of course, the star of the Girl Scout cookie universe is the chocolate-covered, peppermint-flavored wafer known as the Thin Mint. This year, though, there is something rotten in the state of baking sheets: Thin Mints have gone vegan!Read More

What if The Interview Sucks?

the-interview-seth-rogen-james-francoHonestly, my first reaction to hearing the news that Sony was cancelling the release of its movie The Interview because of threats from North Korean hackers and blowback from theater chains was this: North Korea, you need to lighten up. Have you seen Seth Rogen and James Franco? Have you seen their movies? Do you really think they could be a danger to the North Korean military? One only needs to watch Pineapple Express to see that this is not a credible threat – unless you are worried about them stealing your weed.Read More

Person of the Year, 2014?

time question markLast year, I had great responses from a blog post and survey about TIME’s Person of the Year, so I decided to revisit the topic as we start to look back on the people and events that shaped the news in 2014.

My interest in this began a few years ago when my Aunt Rosie told me of a great Thanksgiving tradition: After the big meal, her family discusses who should be named TIME‘s Person of the Year.  So for the second year in a row, I have decided to offer up the question as a topic for readers of my blog and have included a survey in this post.  I have suggested a few nominees, and you can vote for one of them or write-in your own.

Quick background: TIME named Charles Lindbergh its first “Man of the Year” in 1927, and each year since has featured a person, group, idea, or object that “for better or for worse has done the most to influence the events of the year.”  Previous winners have included U.S. presidents, world leaders, executives, scientists, and bad guys like Hitler, Stalin, and Ayatollah Khomeini.  Concepts and groups win too. “The American Soldier” won in 2003; “The Protestors” (representing the Arab Spring, Tea Party, and Occupy movements) were named in 2011.  Last year, TIME recognized Pope Francis.Read More

Strengthen Your Marketing Channels in 2015

ic top shelfA consequence and perk of being a blogger is that you often get solicited by public relations and marketing people. Because my blog is  written about whatever I feel like writing about, I try to respectfully decline invitations and story pitches. This week, though, I was invited to a marketing event that I just couldn’t turn down. It involved a major liquor company and the sampling of specialty cocktails, kind of like a wine tasting but with hard stuff. I was in.

The event was sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels and Bacardi, and the publicized goal was to choose a signature specialty cocktail that will be showcased in the hotels next year. It was held at Bacardi headquarters, not far from my office.Read More

Apple CEO Takes Page From LeBron’s Playbook

apple outTim Cook “Comes Out” with Authentic Communication Delivered Directly

When I read Tim Cook’s bylined piece in Bloomberg BusinessWeek this morning, I was more interested in the “how” rather than the “what” or even the “why” of this story.

Cook took a page directly from the playbook popularized this summer by LeBron James – author an authentic, genuine message and deliver it as directly and cleanly as possible to your audience.Read More

You had me at Ello! 5 Questions with Todd Berger

DavidPRblog interviewed Ello's Todd Berger

Ello Logo

Rarely a week goes by that I don’t encounter someone who is frustrated with social media. I have friends who have taken extended breaks from Facebook, and others who often see it as a platform for people to be nasty in a somewhat anonymous manner. Still others just find Facebook overly commercialized.

Entrepreneur Paul Budnitz and designer Todd Berger fall into this category. Budnitz, who also sells titanium “city” bikes that can retail for more than $8,000, and Berger are two of the founders of a new social network called Ello.Read More

The Race Back to Actual News

The Race for blog davidprMore than 15 years ago, I began telling people that the Internet might kill newspapers but that it won’t end journalism.  A robust, free press remains part of the fabric of our nation, even as we continue to struggle with how to pay for it.  Remember, journalism was created to educate, inform, and persuade people, and our nation’s first journalists were not writing to please advertisers.  Thomas Paine did not write Common Sense as a vehicle to promote furniture discounts, closeout sales, or classifieds.  Advertising was a byproduct of journalism, which has, at times, over-shadowed it—but I promise you, journalism will endure.Read More

If You Think Your Audience Is an Algorithm, You’re Doing it Wrong

Google-Hummingbird-Algorithm-Update2One of the first things I learned in journalism school, and later honed in my PR career, was the concept of knowing one’s audience. For example, when writing for the general “newspaper-reading” public, you need to make sure your text is crafted at no more than an eleventh-grade reading level. And while writing an article in a journalism class, if you throw-in a bunch of heavy-duty words, you’ll get crucified by the professor. In the business world, if you don’t understand your audience, you can develop marketing material that goes over your audience’s collective head, or worse, insults them. Remember, your audience comprises people who you want to educate, connect with, and persuade.Read More