Reputation is described as ‘The honour, credit, good name, or fame of a particular person or thing’ in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is therefore understandable that a business’ reputation is one of its most valuable assets. It is, however, one of the most vulnerable.
It is becoming easier for damaging material to be published by individuals, competitors and the media and, if published online, it has the ability to go viral and go viral quickly.
There are a number of tactics that you can consider if you find your reputation is being attacked:
- Website take down notice
If the material is online and you know who posted it, contact them immediately asking for the material to be taken down. However, often individuals who post on websites are only known by a username or nickname. It is therefore always worth contacting the operator of the website hosting the offending material, requesting that they take it down.
If they refuse to remove the posting upon receipt of a formal notice, you could have a claim for damages against the website operator if you have suffered serious harm to your reputation as a result of the offending material. Our previous blog post ‘Don’t shoot the messenger…just yet‘ discussed this topic in more detail.
- Website terms and conditions
Consider and seek to invoke the website’s terms and conditions. The particular behaviour of the user may fall foul of what the operator expects of its user.
Consider applying for an injunction, a form of court order, which requires a party to take positive action ( e.g. to take down or remove offending material) or prohibit particular action (e.g. to refrain confidential information from being published).
Injunctions, although expensive, are a very swift and effective remedy and if the injunction is breached, the offending party will be in contempt of court and may be subject to committal proceedings.
Injunctions very much depend on the particular circumstances and the court must be satisfied that is it just and fair to order it.
Seek the removal of the material, an apology and in some cases, damages from the offender. If a satisfactory response is not received, this may mean pursing the offender through the courts.
If court proceedings are instigated, this does not necessarily mean long drawn out and expensive litigation. Alternative methods can be considered in regards to resolving the matters, for example mediation.
- Softer tactics
Consider employing a Public Relations firm to spin a positive story from the offending material. Alternatively, use your own press release to promote your message or to answer to ‘bad press’.
If you find that a third party has defamed you or your business, act quickly and take advice as soon as practicable.
And finally – Think about what about your employees are posting online. Do you have sufficient social media policies in place to protect your business?
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