As soon as you discover a defamation attack, continually monitor and analyze blogs and video posts. Where is the chatter spreading from? What keywords are driving it?
- Define, if you can, who is attacking and why. Is it a disgruntled customer or employee? A competitor? Uninformed citizen helping spread a rumor? A special interest, activist or extremist group? Or just someone, to quote The Dark Knight – someone who wants to watch the world burn?
- Understand that attacks do not just go away – never, ever. If you ignore them, they get worse very quickly.
- With an 84 hour digital day, a response 48 hrs later is considered 5 days too late. Aim to respond within a 2-4 hr window. Your initial response can always be enriched an sharpened as you move along. Remember, in today’s digital world, if you are silent or even late, you are presumed guilty.
- A defamation attack can and should never be handled internally. Internal help is often constrained by corporate culture, turf, personalities and lack of field experience. Consider this as ‘hostage negotiation’. It is usually very difficult than Bruce Willis will have you believed.
In running down a rumor, you need to understand the risks involved in posting a response or a rebuttal. In an online world, it is best not to repeat the graphic terms of the charge or accusation; otherwise keywords are boosted as search terms.
Once you are fully aware of your situation and after evaluating the mitigation value, you will need to undergo the following two steps –
1- The first step towards boosting your profile in a search, is what is called ‘mind reading’, the analysis of popular keywords that – without theory or intuition – tell you what people are thinking. Think of yourself as a brand and try every permutation of every conceivable keyword about yourself – light, dark and humorous. Check which of these keywords are searched often, and bring most relevant results. These are the terms which bring most of the negative/positive information on people’s screen. This is what it eventually comes down to. Two to six keywords. YOU ARE WHAT GOOGLE SAYS YOU ARE.
2- The second step is to decide on a short term, and a long term plan. The short term plan attempts to mitigate and minimize the effects of the negative content through quick, precise and targeted action. This usually involves using a Rep Firm, or Lawfirms, or perhaps liaising with relevant parties.
The long term plan usually involves a combination of PR initiatives, combined with SEO to feed the search engines quality information in the hope to bury anything unsubstantiated, including the negative contents.