A case study in online crisis management

Several months ago our team was contacted by a company whose reputation had been severely damaged due to malicious articles placed across several websites. The client had tried for approximately six months to eliminate this information, but found that the articles continued to stay rooted in place like a bad weed.

Desperate, he contacted us to do some online crisis management as his last chance.

When faced with this crisis, our client had no idea what to do, having been in business for over 20 years in what many would consider a relatively ‘boring’ industry–certainly not the sort of company one would think would be facing such heavy fire from an anonymous blogger/reviewer.

The client had worked for the majority of his adult life, along with members of his family, to build his business and reputation as someone who provides the best goods at a reasonable price to his customers. He and his business are well known within his city, and he had never had any problems to this point.

It is been our experience that webmasters, hosting providers, search engines and ISPs are extremely uncooperative in situations like these, even when presented with compelling evidence that negative online articles are malicious, unsupported by evidence, and includes sensitive details that can deeply affect the victim’s reputation, family and business.

It is possible to get a court order in some cases, but the exorbitant legal fees, waiting time to get before a judge, and the procedural complications of serving the webmaster or host with the papers (assuming they are in the same country and under the jurisdiction of the court), makes this approach a nightmare and only serves to highlight and document the problem even more.

Crisis Management: What we did

Within 24 hours of being contacted, we assessed the situation and uncovered similar threads between the postings, which revealed that they had all been posted within several days of each other, had the same writing style, and came across as if they had been written by someone who had an intimate knowledge of our clients business.

We could not be certain whether it was a competitor or a former employee, but it did not matter because the effect was the same: our client had lost nearly 45% of his revenue over that six month period.

Next, our team scrambled to suppress the negative information about him and his company, and then quickly disseminated new, positive information that highlighted his accomplishments, his long-standing reputation as an outstanding member of his community.

Our results

Within approximately 3 weeks, the new, positive articles had all indexed and were beginning to climb onto the first page, fighting their way through the negative postings.

Within approximately 3 months, there was no sign of the malicious and unsubstantiated claims that had been dragging down his business for half a year prior.

As a result, his business started to rebound within two weeks, and while it is not back to where it was when he was attacked online, he has regained approximately 80% of his former revenue, making his investments in our reputation management services an extraordinarily good financial and personal decision. This is what online brand management can do, and it is what makes us passionate about our work.

If your business is facing a similar situation and you need a crisis management team, or if you happen to be a reputation management company who wants to outsource some of your work, do get in touch with us soon to talk about how we can get some positive momentum going as soon as possible.

(Editor’s note: we obtained prior permission from the client to discuss the broad outline of his online crisis management case before publishing this post.)

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