Christine ("she of no blog") sent me a link to an article on Forbes about Google-Proof PR. The premise is that you don't want to let any negative PR get on the first page of Google's search results, so you "pad the web" by creating positive content. The positive links then effectively drown out any noise from the detractors. The article quotes Michael Fertik, CEO of "Reputation Defenders":
"Say you have 20,000 delighted clients and five clients that hate you," says Fertik. "We'll tell your story on the Internet and find press about you and start promoting that to the top of the Google chain. It's very Internet-specific PR, a very different game."
It is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure I agree with it. The voice of your 20,000 delighted users should easily quell any disquiet from the 5 clients that hate you. Reputation Defenders will also contact people asking them to take down the bad press, but I can't imagine many people would be inclined to do this, as there is no reason legally they would need to. In fact, you may run the risk of exacerbating the problem.
For a bit of a laugh, I ran a search on Reputation Defenders to see what was in the first page of results. I found:
- Reputation Defenders - Virtual Arm Twisting
- Challenge To Reputation Defender
- Need someone to watch your back - Wired article (see the comments)
The web, at this adolescent stage of maturity, is struggling with how to handle the complex issues involved in privacy and reputation management. My friend Michael O'Connor Clarke talks to some of the interesting ideas currently percolating around in his "Web 3.0 and Personal Reputation Management" piece. One point that Michael makes that I agree with wholeheartedly is that "no vendor (or government) can own it."
Now, I wonder if this blog entry will ever appear on the first page results of a search for Reputation Defenders...