This month’s guest blog post is from Mark Macias, a crisis communications consultant. He runs a TV production and PR company that has consulted with restaurants, retailers, lounges and Congressional candidates. He also wrote the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. You can read excerpts at BeatthePressBook.com.
By Mark Macias
Everyone likes to secretly Google himself, but what happens when Google turns up results you don’t like? How do you get your name removed from the search engines when the material is damaging?
These strong allegations can destroy nearly any person’s business, but in an industry built on trust – like the financial industry – the article nearly destroyed Gottlob’s private practice.
Your letter to these power brokers needs to state why this article is inaccurate and most important, how the article has financially harmed your business. If you can’t show any financial duress from the article, you won’t succeed in the court of law or with the publisher.
2) Understand the difference between libelous, slander and opinion. If a blogger writes that you smell, you can’t take legal action to bring down the story. However, if the blogger writes a factually inaccurate article that accuses you of wrongdoing and harms your business. And you don’t always need an attorney for this. Sometimes a strongly worded letter that outlines the bullet points from above is enough to get the publisher’s attention.
3) Don’t wait. Go after the website’s owners immediately. The longer the website is up, the more time search engines have to index the web page. Unfortunately, it took Gottlob several weeks to get ahold of the reporter and her superiors, which is sometimes the secret strategy many journalists take to diffuse the threat from any lawsuits.
6) Once the page is removed, you need to write a letter to all the search engines to make sure the page is no longer indexed.
This form of crisis communications will only grow in the future as more bloggers and news organizations post articles on the Internet. If the article is false and inaccurate, don’t be afraid to fight back. Just make sure you’re not picking a fight over someone’s opinion because, luckily, the First Amendment still protects us from that.