Cybersecurity, Human Error and Online Reputation

Moonlight wins best pictureHuman error took center stage this week in the world of crisis and reputation management.  By now we all know that accounting and consulting firm PwC, the firm hired to tabulate and manage the results of the Academy Awards, gave the wrong envelope to actor Warren Beatty, who was responsible for reading the winner of the Best Picture Oscar.  The accountant in charge was distracted during the process (allegedly tweeting) and Beatty and Faye Dunaway read the wrong winner – and then chaos ensued.  The incident made worldwide headlines and PwC took a tremendous reputational hit.  Human error, compounded by distraction, was the primary cause.  (In case you haven’t heard, PwC partner Brian Cullinan was taken off the Academy Awards assignment, and the account is under review by the Academy.)

The other day, I attended a seminar at another accounting and consulting firm called MBAF in Miami.  They hosted a great event where a number of experts discussed current trends in cyber crime.  Interestingly, one of the main themes was human error.  We know that cyber criminals target organizations with hacking efforts and denial of service attacks, and in some cases companies get infiltrated as the bad guys find ways around firewalls and cyber-defenses.Read More

Online Review Sites: The New Normal

Online Review Sites David PRThe value proposition for online review sites is simple as they enables almost anyone to offer a public review and rating of a business. A review site allows users to give both good and bad reviews of businesses – and gives consumers the opportunity to make an informed purchase decision. This new reality can be a challenge for businesses, however.

Here are some general recommendations when it comes to online reviews:Read More

Do you Resolve to Write a Business Book?

yes you can write a business book

It might surprise you to learn that when I tell people I published a business book, the first question I’m most frequently asked is not “What is the book about?” or “Why did you write it?”  Instead, it’s “Did you self-publish?”  When I tell them that my book was published by a traditional publisher that paid me to write it, I generally get an “Oh, really?” with an eyebrow raise—and then we almost immediately jump to a “How did you do that?” conversation.

It’s interesting to me that the assumption is that I self-published, and I think this has as much to do with an overriding belief that self-publishing is the path of least resistance and also that securing a publishing contract is impossible.

I’m here to tell you that getting a traditional publishing deal to write a business book is absolutely possible, and I’m not diminishing self-publishing in the least.Read More

9 Business Books Recommended as Last-Minute Gifts

9 business books as last minute giftsSince writing my book How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, I have met many interesting authors and interviewed a number of them for my blog.  Here are nine books I can wholeheartedly recommend as last-minute gifts.  All are available on Amazon.com and can be shipped in time for the holidays if you, as they say, act now.

In alphabetical order:Read More

Fake News Can Damage Your Corporate Reputation

fake news hillary adops alien babyFake news just got real.

Last weekend, a North Carolina man named Edgar Welch drove to Washington, D.C., with the belief that an area pizzeria was the center of a “Hillary Clinton-sponsored child sex ring.” If you think it sounds crazy and fantastical that the former Secretary of State would be involved in such a thing, then you are like most people who have figured out the difference between real and fake news. Unfortunately, Welch read the fake story online, thought the tale was true and then decided to “go superhero” and try to bust-up the ring himself. Armed with an assault rifle, he entered the pizza joint and even fired his weapon. Scary stuff.

Fake news is nothing new. Most of us can quickly tell the difference between bona fide news coverage and information that is blatantly false. We also understand the concept of tabloid journalism and how some publications like the Weekly World News and the National Enquirer offer sensational stories with the hopes of drawing readers who will patronize their advertisers.

In recent years, fake news has gained a toehold on the internet, and most of us either ignore it or view it as annoying or maybe even amusing. Fake news was amplified during the presidential campaign, and some even believe that such stories impacted how people voted and even turned the presidential election.Read More

Time for PR to Take Back Reputation Management

All roads lead to reputation managementAs an old-school public relations consultant, I remember the days when “reputation management” was strictly a PR term.  We learned about it in our college courses and included it on our websites as a practice area.  But then sometime in the past few years, reputation management was stolen from us by the search engine optimization world.  Today, when you mention reputation management, most people equate it with “online” reputation management and the act of trying to manipulate search results by pushing down, burying or suppressing negative content and links.

If you don’t believe me, ask Wikipedia (cue groans.)  I know that our profession has an “it’s complicated” relationship with Wikipedia, but millions of people use it each day, and here’s what it says about reputation management:

Reputation management refers to influencing and controlling an individual’s or business’s reputation. Originally a public relations term, the expansion of the internet and social media, along with reputation management companies, have made it primarily an issue of search results.

Ouch, right?Read More

Post-Election Social Media Posts Could Haunt Your Online Reputation

Trump Or HillaryA week removed from the craziest presidential election in modern times, and we continue to feel the aftermath, particularly on social media sites where the avalanche of memes, gifs and rants continues to raise hackles on both sides of the political aisle.  Two days ago, I resisted the urge to perform my first “un-friending” on Facebook after receiving an inane reply to one of my posts.  Because I strive to be politically tolerant, I have moved past it.

Regardless of who you voted for, and I have close friends on both sides, I think we can agree that many of the election reactions were unfortunate.  An official in a West Virginia town was fired for a post-election racist tweet.  A Maryland school superintendent was criticized for an allegedly “anti-white” Twitter post.  And even Oprah Winfrey caught heat for her online reaction to the first meeting between President Obama and President-Elect Trump.

While the typical person’s online reaction to the election may not be vitriolic, we should all be aware that posts made online can remain forever.  Sure, your morning-after musings may now be deep in your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds, but they are still there nonetheless – and they can be found via search engines or just a small level of sleuthing.  Many of these posts will stay online forever, and I think that many of the things being said by folks on both sides will be regretted in the days, weeks and months ahead.Read More

Why Marketing Pros Should Care About the Dark Web

Deep Web and Dark WebMany marketing pros have no interest in technology, and when I bring up subjects like the deep web and the dark web, their eyes glaze over and they quickly reach for their phones. But after researching online reputation issues for my new book How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, I can say with absolute certainty that marketing professionals who ignore the deep web and the dark web do so at their organization’s or their client’s peril.

We begin most of our online interactions through a search engine like Google or Bing, or we access information directly through mobile apps associated with Facebook, CNN, the Weather Channel or another organization that makes its offerings easily reachable. This part of the internet, which everyone can see and is indexed by search engines, is known as the “surface web” and sometimes called the clear web or visible web.

However, vast amounts of information and data are exchanged out of the sight of search engines. Known as the “deep web,” this includes dynamic web pages, blocked sites, unlinked sites, private sites (like those that require login credentials), non-HTML content and private networks. Some estimates suggest the amount of information on the deep web (also known as the deep net, invisible web or hidden web) is 500 times greater than the surface web.

Read More

A Social Media Policy Can Prevent Online #Fails

Social Media Policy RecommendationsWe read about social media slip-ups that impact businesses all the time. An executive inadvertently posts a tweet with confidential information, employees offer-up opinions on controversial subjects and find themselves in hot water, and social media departments inadvertently publish offensive images.  Often, the lack of a social media policy is to blame.

On July 4, 2014, American Apparel posted an image on its Tumblr account that someone thought was fireworks but was in reality a stylized image of the space shuttle Challenger explosion from 1986.  It was a huge and offensive embarrassment.  Aside from a better senses of history, how do you protect your business from social media mishaps?  A solid social media policy is a good start, so here are the main elements of a social media policy.

Offline rules apply to online activities

Most companies have an employment agreement or handbook which offers guidance on employee conduct.  A social media policy should include a reminder that the guidelines in the employee handbook apply not only to traditional offline activities but online conduct as well.Read More

Stop Taking Pictures of Your Private Parts and Other Online Reputation Advice

Stop taking pictures of your private partsRecently, I spoke at my local chamber of commerce about online issues, and a number of attendees approached me about a section of my presentation which they thought was particularly relevant for teenagers, college students and young professionals. They encouraged me to write about it and share my advice.

As the father of two teenagers who has been studying online reputation issues for the past three years and as the author of new book on the topic, How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, I agreed it was a good idea to spread the word.

Here are five key things that young people need to be concerned about when it comes to their reputation online.

Follow the rules
The best way to have a good online reputation is to have a good offline reputation. This starts with being respectful of life’s many rules and the laws of the land. As I was finishing my book, I was watching the NFL Draft and one of the biggest stories was that of Laremy Tunsil, the eventual first round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins. Tunsil’s Twitter account was hacked moments before the draft and a picture of him smoking marijuana was published for the world to see. He dropped 13 places in the draft, and it is estimated that it cost him about $10 million. Here’s the point: No matter what you think of the marijuana laws in our country, it is still against law for anyone in the United States under the age of 18 to smoke pot, even in Colorado. Tunsil broke the rules and it cost him dearly. We have to teach our kids to follow the rules, plain and simple. Breaking life’s rules is a quick way to get yourself in trouble and one way to easily have problems online.Read More