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Protecting Your Company’s Reputation In Cyberspace

By Amy Radishofski, Staff Reporter, Manufacturing.net While the Internet can disseminate knowledge and information, it can also spread rumors and negative publicity. Companies need to be aware of their options if they become victims of online defamation.

 
It’s no secret that over the past few months several toy manufacturers have had their reputations battered by a series of safety problems and recalls.
 
In today’s digital world, information — both good and bad — can spread like wildfire. Unfortunately in some cases the information may be true. However, what happens if the Internet is being used to spread rumors or outright lies about your company?
 
Online defamation has become a serious and widespread problem, thanks to the ease in which a disgruntled employee or competitor to can create several anonymous identities and post negative comments on discussion boards and blogs.
 
Gary Greaves, president of the Credo Media Group, says the situation can get so bad that it can almost push a company out of business.
 
“The number of inquiries we’ve received since we began our online reputation repair service has really opened my eyes to the scope of the problem,” Greaves said.
 
The Credo Media Group does online public relations campaigns for a company or individual that requests their help. Perhaps it was a court case against them that got thrown out, or a former employee trying to spread false information to discredit the company.
 
“We try to push the negative search results to the second, third, or even fourth page of the search results on Yahoo or Google,” Greaves said.
 
Some may question how ethical a service like this could be. Greaves said it isn’t about covering up a company’s indiscretions. It’s about creating a balance of both positive and negative information so the customer can create an informed opinion.
 
Moreover, Greaves does research on the companies that request his help. “There are always two sides to every story,” he said. “But if I’m uncomfortable with the research I do on the company, then I’ll turn down their request. In the end, who we decide to work with is also a reflection on us. We are very careful of that.”
 
“We’re interested in helping those who are being legitimately defamed,” Greaves said. “We’re not out to be trial judge and jury. We put out positive information.”
 
Greaves also cautions companies about responding directly to negative criticisms. He says all that really does is add more fuel to the fire by increasing the strength and positioning of the page on the major search engines.
 
“One of the things that search engines like Google looks at when evaluating pages is the body content. By providing directly addressing it, you’re helping the page rank instead of helping your reputation,” Greaves adds.
 
Greaves suggests companies use an online media relations service to repair the damage, or post positive news on their Web sites or send out news releases to counter the negative press. That way you aren’t increasing traffic and drawing attention to the criticism.
 
It’s all about balance. You don’t want to highlight the negative. You need to increase the positive. The goal is to provide both sides of the story, so the customer can form their own opinion.
 
Cyberspace is a whole new world to many companies. The online domain can present a number of opportunities that you can employ to support and grow your business, but you need to be aware of the risk that the Internet carries.
 
The Credo Media Group is a Florida-based public relations firm that offers online reputation repair and other media relations services. For more information, visit http://www.credomediagroup.com
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