By Mark Macias
Over the years, many business owners and personalities have approached my firm for help, asking if we could alter history. They wanted to see if we could remove negative new stories or photos that no longer meshed with their brand.
Even as the owner of a PR firm, I frequently get spam from reputation management companies, promising they can remove negative stories on my business from the web. I want to break the news to them: unless you’re a hacker, it’s physically impossible to remove photos or news stories from another web server where the content is stored. (Unless of course, you get a court order, but that’s a strategy for another day).
If you look deeper into these reputation management firms, they aren’t actually promising to remove the article or image. They are taking a tactic that tries to push the story or image off the first page of search engines.
Improving your Online Brand
Several years ago, TechCrunch exposed a PR firm that was paying their interns to write positive reviews for their client.
The PR firm allegedly claimed they had great personal relationships with Apple and that’s how they improved the client’s rating. A deeper investigation found the company was allegedly just paying interns to write more positive reviews. This is an example of how many negative reviews can be pushed off the front page of Google. If you push a bad story down to page 5 of Google, it’s unlikely other people will see it.
Several years ago, my firm ran a crisis communications campaign for a financial consultant who was falsely accused of fraud. Before he reached out to us, the financial advisor hired attorneys to bring down the negative story, but they did not succeed.
When the client approached my firm, we took an editorial and crisis approach to the problem. We found inaccuracies in the story that were false and slanderous and brought it to the attention of their editors. We also alerted the parent company’s legal department to the slanderous claims in the story that weren’t factually correct. It was an approach that the expensive attorneys missed.
So the next time your business discovers negative reviews, instead of trying to hide them, maybe you should consider altering the approach and begin a positive media campaign on why your service is stellar.
Macias PR was named the 2015 and 2016 top PR Firm of the Year – USA by Finance Monthly. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.