Should You Sue When Your Company's Competitors Go Negative?

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by Anna Munhin Jul 1, 2022 News
Should You Sue When Your Company

Contributors' opinions are their own.

Brand protection has evolved into a blood sport as many seasoned entrepreneurs have learned. In the ever-changing world of social media and online marketing, companies are finding themselves on the receiving end of corporate defamation campaigns.

Sometimes camouflaged as an onslaught of negative customer feedback posts and at other times through cleverly orchestrated "whisper campaigns" across social media channels, these reputational attacks are just another set of tools-of-the-trade for some unscrupulous competitors and the marketing agencies that they are.

How to manage and repair your online reputation is related.

Bad actors are bolder than ever before due to the ability to recruit teams offshore using remote hiring platforms and in a country that makes the legal process impossible.

What does the CEO do when faced with an attack? Emergency reputation management in a crisis is different than every other crisis.

Evaluate the problem

Is this an organic effort or is it a contrived one? You should look for it.

Profiles of online posters and authors who have not posted in the past seem to have no history of doing so. Is it true that they have deep profiles on several social media platforms. There is a chance that you are dealing with a bot or sock-puppet who has been deployed by a rival.

A sign of black-hat sabotage is where the unhappy client or customer has a robust online presence but has a history of posting mostly negative reviews. This is what it looks like, an agency has been hired to launch another corporate attack and is using its previous online profiles to do so. Take a close look at these. Many of them have reviewed the same companies before. What are the chances that the same three people posted negative reviews about the same plastic surgery center a year ago, and then complained about it a year later?

Is it difficult with fake reviews? The problem can be solved here.

Assemble a team

Your in-house people are the team's starting point. In case of an emergency, be sure to include your in-house counsel, chief marketing officer, and crisis manager. We don't know who this may be. Is there a way to snuff out this without outside help?

Do not react

It's almost always a knee-jerk reaction. You need to think a few moves ahead before you act, like a good chess player.

Do not fight fire-with-fire

You might be inclined to respond negatively once you have identified the culprit. There are a lot of reasons why this is a bad idea. Trust me and don't do it. I will talk you off the ledge.

Do hire the right team

Lawyers, PR professionals and reputation management experts are included in your team. A demand letter or TRO can be used to resolve the problem. Remember the Streisand Effect? While the reputation management company looks for ways to take down the offending content and provide backup to the PR agency, you need to begin putting together your crisis communications initiative. Don't just publish your corporate news. If you want to push the negative content to page two of the search results, you need at least ten positive articles to be published. Pushing it there is akin to removing it.

Rely on your advisors, but be sure to decide for yourself

The old maxim was that everything looked like a nail. It's all too common for law firms to be the same. They have a single tool in their belt. They are likely to give that advice. The Streisand Effect is repeated. A positive PR campaign is what the PR agency wants to start. This can bring unwanted attention to your company by the journalists who are interested in the negative news you are trying to bury. In an inartful attempt to push down the negative without much thought about what will replace it, reputation management firms often post content that is unattractive and nonsensical. You will need to find a balance between the different tactics.

There are ways to recover from a reputation crisis.

Force your advisors to collaborate and problem-solve

They need to be in the same room with you and your team to solve the problem. You are the expert in your company, your brand, your vision and your competition, even though each of them is an expert in their domain. The best solution is likely to be a combination of PR, Legal, Reputation Management and Crisis Communications. Professionals may have difficulty thinking outside of their comfort zone. If you hire wisely, they will work in your favor.

Similar to corporate espionage, reputational attacks are becoming a tool of the trade in several industries.

Companies should keep an eye on the digital landscape and have a response team in place. The old crisis management strategies are no longer one-size-fits-all. To navigate the new threats that emerge will require a bleeding-edge approach to problem-solving that spans the chasm between PR strategy, reputation management savvy and litigation prowess.

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