Have you ever had someone spread vicious rumors about you? Probably. Have you ever seen anything printed in the local paper that defames you? Probably not the latter, but you can get away with it on the internet with no problem. One version of it is nothing more than extortion.
What happens is that some unscrupulous company (and there are several of them) puts up a review of you, your business, your product, or your reputation on the web. They let it fester for a short time and then send you a lovely email offering to help remove such horrible things from the surface of the earth. They don’t mention that they started the nonsense and hope to take some of your money to undo their damage.
This may sound insane, but I know one professional who fell victim to this whole concept. Their business actually suffered because they refused to play the extortion game. They fought back and asked people to post positive reviews on the web. I did right away and now my good review shows up over the bad one. The bad one is obviously a hit piece, it doesn’t say anything except my contact stinks.
How do you fight such things? Do like my contact did – get everyone in your business circle to write a review. Flood the internet with positives. Don’t lie for anyone, don’t coerce, don’t have your employees do it, but get the people that know the truth to write about it. Find a blogger who writes on your product and invite them to come and sample your product. Tell them you’d like a review of your business. Let them know it can be anonymously done, you don’t want to know when they are there. But get them in the door. If the extortion attempt is bogus, stand on your merits and fight!
On the other hand, sometimes the extortion attempt is legitimate. Sometimes you were a train wreck at some point and the information is valid. What can you do to fix that one? Simple – change your ways. What if it was well in the past and you’re no longer guilty of whatever the sin was. See the paragraph above. Be honest – let the person reviewing you know that you did have problems in the past but have worked hard to fix them. One of the few things that won’t fall into that category is your being a sneaky lowlife. That one is hard to fix in the public world of the internet. For that, you need to go one step further as I describe below.
Hire a Public Relations specialist. The good ones know how to go about repairing your justly deserved reputation as a skunk. Sometimes they can’t fix it – especially if you’re still a skunk. That’s the point at which you had best consider truly reforming your image from the inside out. No? You like being a swine? Then prepare to hand over several thousand dollars for that PR person to line up interviews with shills (in this case, journalists who like free stuff) and expensive planted stories. You will likely have to do something nice for a charity and then keep your mouth shut about your true motivations.
But back to the original point: isn’t it easier just to turn over a new leaf? Live that way for a year, or two, and then plead your case in the court of public opinion.
We’re lucky that our God doesn’t require that we do those things. He only requires an honest confession of our hearts. Beats the internet.