In the Flintstone days, damage control was relatively easy. When something bad happened, you went to your inner circle and swore them to secrecy (knowing that some would quickly leak out the secrets.) Perhaps some even brought a baseball bat or money to help quiet down the information. Then, newspapers and the AP/UPI press wire combined to give the same story to a vast number of publications who were looking for stories to fill their pages and interest to engage their readers. I remember when CNN come on the news scene and blew out the doors out on messaging and visibility. They repeated the same stories (and newsfeed on the bottom) 24 hours a day.
Enter the Internet. It feed the news outlets, e.g. newspapers, tv and radio, engaging and timely content. Information gone wild through viral messaging. The news many be positive, negative or neutral but it is constructed to attract readers through compelling headlines, leads, etc. Today when bad news strikes, there are new tools to combat negative information spreading beyond using money and baseball bats. You can harness the strength of the internet to push out positive, interesting messages about you which will “push down” negative or neutral information. You can populate the first pages your search engine ranking with your own content!
Personal information or content can be grouped into three types: positive, negative and neutral. There is no universal agreement on what information goes into which bucket. What some individuals perceive as negative information (sale of public stock and huge cash event) others see such an event as positive.
The Knife Cuts Both Ways
We all must agree for the lowest cost, easiest dissemination of positive news, the internet is the place to be. Its a vast, interconnected tool which “feeds” itself by posting and reposting repeat news. Its similar to CNN Headline news. And, of course, if its negative news, I don’t need to say more. The viral web spreads news via key words which drive search engine optimization (SEO.) As for neutral news, although you may perceive as having no bearing on your reputation or personal brand, it still may be newsworthy.
The Key To A Good Defense is a Strong Offense
Think like Lady Gaga or even Charlie Sheen! Forget about whether or not you like either of them. I think that you must agree that they have effectively built out their own personal brands, and messages to create visibility.
You can write your own story as well! And, best practices say that you should post your own content by blogging, commenting and posting news which supports your point of view. Blogging is a way to choose a topic and present your point of view on something which may be an interest or passion. It has much more authenticity and authority when it is authored by you and you can control the messaging. Posting information constantly and consistently will gather the most internet real estate for you. Creating strong social media presence on many platforms with repeat messages across these channels will let people know who you are and you’re your stand for. This will begin to create your own personal brand. Fill the internet and social media platforms with engaging, compelling information on you, your passions, interests, etc. This activity will “push down” other types of information which may be already on the internet. You can learn more about messaging and branding which are precursors to effective social media marketing.
What Information is Private And What is Public Information?
You may be surprised about what information is actually public information and readily available on the internet. For example, political donations, real estate sales, marriage/divorce records, certain stock sales at public companies, club and board membership, litigation, certain service providers for foundations, and other information is considered public.
There are firms which have sprung up to feed leads to non-profits and financial services firms. They aggregate and report on public information so that it can be used for leads. In some cases, the information is scrubbed and cross checked to verify accuracy.
How to begin
This potential vulnerability has created an industry of reputation management firms and other firms which specialize in reputation management. However, this can easily be accomplished through a greater understanding of search engine optimization, establishing Google alerts and other do-it-yourself type tasks. Best practices include engaging a specialized firm especially if there is a checkered past or HNW who want their children to be trained and social media savvy. Money spent in protecting your brand is money well-spent. This may be your most valuable intangible asset.