Every situation is different so by far the best way to find out how to respond to a social media legal issue is to speak to those who are most likely to have dealt with a situation similar to yours.
To find out how you can improve your reputation on the internet simply select one of the easy methods of contacting us.
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During a crisis you may receive conflicting advice as to the most appropriate response. It is vital to carry out a risk assessment in relation to each choice of action or inaction, bearing in mind that action taken on the internet can often be irreversible.
Broadly speaking, there are three core solutions to reputation issues that arise out of internet publications:
Solution 1: Using legal provisions and tools to remove damaging webpages: Consider any short and long term implications on the organisation's reputation. How would legal action impact your organisation's marketing strategies?
Solution 2: The use of various Search Engine Optimisation tools/techniques to remove unwanted internet pages from public view: Consider what sort of material should be posted on the internet to "push down" bad, negative results. How would the new material integrate with the rest of your organisation's marketing strategies?
Solution 3: Enhancing corporate transparency: Consider the legal aspects of your organisation accepting responsibility for complaints stimulated by transparency on the internet.
How would the organisations' other customers view admissions and acceptances of responsibility?
You can count on us to add real value whilst helping your organisation formulate appropriate responses to online reviews, to malicious blog posts and to dedicated hate websites.
We help you make the internet a safer place for your company.
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The most significant concern for company executives today is over reputational risk. Many feel that they have increasingly less control over public perception particularly due to the growing power of social media. Understanding why, how and when social media becomes a decisive factor in consumers’ purchasing decision helps company executives better identify and manage reputational risks to the brand or product or to them personally.
We provide various courses and presentations dedicated to company executives in different sectors. How much does a company director need to know about social media and internet law? The answer is ‘as much as possible’.
This is why many executive directors make it their business to investigate, learn and understand social media and internet law. Good understanding will help you approach the challenges the internet presents from a position of leadership and control.
Most company directors are likely in the future to ask themselves questions such as:
What errors should I avoid when interacting with customers on social media?
Should social media have an impact on my day to day decisions?
How can we risk manage social media?
Is it wise to allow employees to blog and tweet about our company?
How can we identify, as early as possible, signs of online reputation crisis?
Why do I find professional advice on social media and internet law so confusing?
Who should we listen to; our PR consultants? Our marketing agency?
Or perhaps our legal advisor? And what are the long term implications of each choice that we make?
As an unexpected online reputation crisis can devastate the financial stability of a company, some lenders, investors and other stakeholders are already asking organisations to undertake ‘online reputation risk management’ exercises as part of the usual assessment of the financial stability of the organisation. We can help you understand social media and internet law to put you in the driving seat.
We offer a variety of learning platforms on social media and internet law for company executives including board meetings, presentations, one on one private learning sessions and half and full day workshops. To find out more how Cohen Davis can provide tailored made social media and online reputation management training to your executives contact us here.
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Internet law legal advice
Good reputation is what will distinguish the successful from the rest but as success grows, so is the risk of coming across people and organisations that will make it their mission in life to tarnish and ruin your good reputation.
Internet Law Centre's My Reputation Alarm provides you with full monitoring, identification, analyses and alert against those who are wishing to harm your online reputation for whatever reason. My Reputation Alarm monitors any mention of you or your company throughout the internet, including:
And many more….
Whenever negative or defamatory information is found which relates to you or your business, My Reputation Alarm alerts you to the issues and facilitate the removal of such information in no time.
With My Reputation Alarm ’s experienced and professional reputation analysts system and with our legal team on hand, we deal with new situations as they happen, and in real time, to bring normality back to your life and/or to your business.
To find out more. Call our reputation centre now and ask about My Reputation Alarm
Call now on
0207 183 4 123
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With legal action we can make web pages completely disappear. But internet law, perhaps more than any other area of law, requires you to take into consideration many different matters before you decide to proceed with legal action.
For defamation, particularly online defamation, you need to consider not only the short-term benefits for your organisation, but also the long-term consequences for your reputation - on publicity and marketing decisions particularly to do with your online marketing machine.
Often, in the internet age, taking legal action for defamation or for breach of privacy is not the most sustainable way to protect your personal or your organisation's reputation. To put it bluntly, you may win your legal action in court, but lose your reputation at the same time. It is important to remember that with internet law, strategic thinking is often more effective than anything else including court orders and that before starting legal proceedings, particularly for defamation you need to consider, together with your solicitor the likelihood of success and try to foresee the PR consequences of a successful and unsuccessful legal proceedings.
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Many "webpage removal specialists" offer to remove bad pages from the search results by using search engine optimisation (SEO).
It is a series of techniques that companies use to try and make their websites appear on the first pages of internet search results.
It is largely a promotional tool which, if used knowledgeably, can bring almost any business tons of success. SEO is a good medicine to cure marketing problems. But when it comes to a bad and rapidly spreading case of infectious defamation, SEO might be less effective.
Remember that SEO is a preventative tool. It does not "remove" or "delete" bad search results but only temporarily pushes them down the search results.
If the information that you wish to remove from the internet is of personal nature, exercising your European right to be forgotten might be the best option for you. You can use the right to be forgotten to not only remove unwanted search results from Google and other search engines but also to have information about you deleted completely from the publishing website.
If the information that you want deleted from the internet is of commercial nature, then you can still use the right to be forgotten but only in limited circumstances.
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Internet defamation, is becoming more and more a survival issue for a growing number of individuals and organisations across the UK.
In most cases where we are instructed to remove defamation from the internet, we do so successfully and without putting our clients through expensive litigation. In most cases we can facilitate the removal of defamatory web pages through an affordable, yet persuasive Cease and Desist letter or by negotiations.
Even if the offending website is located outside the jurisdiction of the English Courts, a well drafted letter might still be sufficient to have the defamatory content removed.
However, more and more internet service providers such as Google and Bing ask for a court order before they agree to remove defamation from their websites, unless we can point their legal departments to specific breaches of their own terms and conditions of use.
In 99% of the cases, Google will remove defamatory webpages upon receipt of a copy of a claim form. This often meets our client's objectives, which means that there is no longer a need to pursue the matter further and at additional costs.
Read more: Obtaining injunctions against Google
As a busy director of a small company that prides itself in excellent customer care, Rodney was surprised to discover an anonymous blog post on Blogger, which referred to him and to his company as 'fraud' and 'scam'.
Rodney believed that the blog post was created by a competitor but he was unable to prove this. Rodney wrote to Google several times and asked them to remove the defamatory blog post but he never received a reply. He then contacted a number of defamation solicitors who advised him that bringing a court action to order Google to remove the blog post will cost him between £15,000 - £20,000, which was his company's entire annual marketing budget.
Rodney's company was turning just over £500,000 per annum so he now had to make some important financial decisions. Should he invest the entire marketing budget in a court action, which might or might not be successful or perhaps should he use the money to manipulate the search engines so that the defamatory blog be kept away from public view?
By working with Rodney, we helped him to identify a practical solution to his problem.
Instead of embarking on a full legal action for defamation, we advised him to apply for a limited court order which told Google to provide information about the identity of the blogger (order known as Norwich Pharmacal Order) at the approximate cost of £2,000. Upon receipt of a copy of the application, Google immediately removed the blog post.
Rodney's goal of removing the defamatory blog was achieved and at the same time, his action sent a clear message to his competitor that he was being serious about pursuing the identity of those who defame his company.
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How to handle PR and reputation crisis
Like a hurricane sweeping through, savagely devastating innocent lives, an online reputation crises tend to visit organisations with little warning as to their actual strength, their impact, or their destructive intentions. A story that does not go away within days or weeks is likely to stay on and increase in traffic over time.
It is a human tendency to respond fast to most perceived dangers in life. Reputation crisis management is not different. However, the internet makes sure that in most cases, a bad reputation does not simply go away, which means it is the type of danger which is likely to stay but the shape and nature of it is likely to be determined by how you respond to the reputation crisis situation as it occurs.
The difficulty with reputational crisis management, as it happens in real time, is that professional advice tends to be one dimensional.
At the same time, lawyers tend to think in legal terms and to short distances and are often lacking themselves the ability to understand the long-term impact of your current reputation crisis. After all, once you cease to be a client, or once your legal case has concluded, the lawyer will move on the next case.
Crises involving online defamation or unflattering information circulating on the internet are probably the most threatening public relations issues for a modern business. Unexpected dissemination of information, true or false, often finds a company unprepared. The lack of a proper, coordinated response often results in a rapid aggravation of the crisis. If there is an opportunity to do so from the outset, your organisation should develop a reputation crisis management policy from the outset. This is something we will be able to help you with.
For a start, it is always advisable for every company - whether it has 2 directors or 20 - to have in place an online reputation alarm system to alert bosses as soon as possible of any high-risk information that appears on the internet.
Speed is essential in responding to allegations or unwanted disclosures on the internet. But what is even more important, is the nature of the response, in both tone and substance. It is possible to survive and even flourish during reputational crisis situations. To do so, a company needs to have an internet PR crisis management policy in place.
All those who hold a role on that policy team should get together at least once a year to discuss the policy and their individual roles.
During normal times, the sales department will be handling sales, the support department will be handling customers’ technical issues, and the information technology or marketing department will be handling the company’s blogs, social networking sites and so on.
But a crisis involving online defamation or the publishing of undesirable information over the internet requires a highly co-ordinated approach of reputational crisis management by all of these people. Negative information about the company is likely to lead to an increase in buyer objections, which means sales are going to be affected.
Also likely to be affected, is the department dealing with customer complaints. There may be an increase in rejected or returned goods, with customers assuming, because of what they read on the internet, that there is something wrong with them. There might also be media interest in the derogatory information.
In extreme cases, investigating journalists may even call your sales department to discover first-hand the attitude of your employees.
When negative information about the company appears online, even customers who might have been otherwise happy, start to lose confidence in your company, and gain the courage to add their own opinions to the online discussion.
It is therefore very important for your company to meet in advance of trouble to discuss how the company will handle internet reputation crisis situations. Those at the top of the organisation need to ensure that there are systems in place that filter down to the customer support team and the sales people who handle daily contact with the public.
Everyone should know their role. A chain of command should be set up and new developments communicated to management as well as employees on the ground.
When the first sign of a crisis appears, the person in charge of crisis management should call in all the stakeholders. Management should open a discussion of how the company intends to proceed.
Don't shut out other departments. Everyone should contribute to the discussion from their own perspective, so that the sales team understand how to handle new objections, PR people are aware of possible escalation, and so on. The management team should then draw up a plan making it clear what everyone's responsibility is.
At least twice a day, a smaller team should go through any new information appearing on the internet, including the latest blog posts and forum discussions, as well as any press coverage of the crisis. The team should remain flexible and be prepared to change course if required.
At the time of an social media crisis, you might want to use this guidance as an example for reputational crisis management
Prepare a clear action plan of reputation crisis manamenet
Establish key players in your company and decide what role each should play during a crisis. Consider who your key players are for each type of crisis: legal, PR, etc. Seek advice. Seek co-coordinated advice. Perhaps invite a reputation lawyer and a PR specialist to a board meeting where they will be assisting you in allocating tasks and responsibilities to each of the key players.
Establish modes of communication
Clarify the method by which communication between the key players will take place. For example, will they use email, phone, WhatsApp or the company’s chat platform. Try to have single communication method so that the information can flow and reach everyone I the team in real time. Often, multi forms of communications could result in missing information for some of the key players and in the lack of co-ordination. Make sure that key players are reachable.
Keep your workforce involved
When an internet reputation crisis arises, have the most knowledgeable person in that particular area, brief everyone else about it in as much detail as possible.
Your sales people are going to be affected by the crisis so even if they have nothing to do with the PR, their work is going to be affected by the current crisis and the follow-up action by the company.
If the issue involves a technical failure, for example, the sales and customer support people will need to understand the nature of the failure and be able to communicate it to customers in a simple and coherent manner.
If the matter concerns a badly-worded statement by the PR people, it is important to make sure all departments follow the corrected explanation given to the press and the public.
Prepare multiple methods of response
A major goal for anyone who deal with reputation crisis management is to move as quickly as possible from a defensive responsible approach to an advance position where your company is back dictating the agenda. To help you to this, prepare at least three different methods of response where at least one method which is focused on progression and ways to take back the initiative. Continuously discuss methods of dealing with the crisis and their predictable outcomes.
Establish a time frame
Establish a time frame to deal with the internet reputation crisis. You cannot afford to let a bad story run for days, weeks, months, or years. A story that does not go away within days or weeks is likely to stay on and increase in traffic over time. All the departments and people in your organisation need to make a concerted effort to resolve the crisis within a short time frame.
Hire a professional firm
Monitor blogs and social media intensely. If your company does not have an in-house PR team trained to deal with a crisis, hire an external team to handle the matter for the first few crucial weeks. The external PR team might be part of your law firm or another company that understands your brand and your company’s culture.
Avoid taking the view that internet reputation crisis management is all about saving the face of your company. Instead, focus on communicating your position in a way that builds trust in your organisation. Remember, people understand that we all sometimes make mistakes.
What your customers will not forgive is a perception that you dodge the real issues or do not fully acknowledge their concerns.
Let costumers vent their anger
Consider providing your customers with a forum to contain the discussion. Let them communicate directly with your company through the company's blog, the director's blog, the company’s internet forum or live podcasts.
Document and learn lessons
When the crisis has been contained, assemble as soon as possible all the information you have learned and communicate it back to employees. This important process will not only win you gratitude from your employees, but it will also provide you with a quality framework for handling similar crisis in the future.
Online business support
- Defamation by competitors
- Defamation and social media law in the UK
- Defamation by an Ex-Employee
- Defamation by employees
- Defamation claim against the police
- Defamation on a review website
- Defamation on Blogger
- Defamation on websites
- Defamation with SEO
- Google business defamation
- How to avoid posting a defamatory online review
- Injunction against Google
- Internet law in the UK
- Legal action for libel
- Removing defamation from the internet
- Twitter defamation and harassment
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