So, what should YOU do if your good name comes under attack?
Relax and take a step back. Keep in mind that the nature of the media is that it would rather make things worse than better. They are not your friends. They are looking for views. There is no news in a retraction; even if they got the facts wrong. They would rather paint you as furious and enraged and make you look even worse than to come back and say you are innocent of wrongdoing. No battles are won in the press. They are won in the SERPs.
If it is just a single web result, that is one thing. You can SEO it out of existence and quash it before it becomes a major issue if you know what you are doing. If a bad review or personal attack goes viral, however, you may have a fight on your hands for damage control. Then you may be dealing with dozens of results you need to negate. Here is what you do.
Stay calm! Panic can ruin you at this point. Panic is your enemy. You need to be objective and smart right now which is why it is so important to think about the possibility of a bad situation ahead of time and prepare, so you don’t sit paralyzed and wondering what to do.
Don’t depend on employees or flunkies to mouth words at the situation and try to shield you – you are the boss, the buck stops here, so buck up and deal with the situation yourself so that you know best practices are being followed. This is YOU under attack. Your name. Your brand. You need to take charge!
If you are hopeless in the limelight, appoint a high ranking person from your organization to speak for the company and make sure you and they are on the same page as far as what is to be said and how the affair should be handled. Make sure, however, it is your words going out – not someone you delegated making a statement to.
Hammer the web with positive content and work seriously on getting each piece SEOd and linked for maximum rankings to push negative results down off the front page. If necessary, hire out this reputation management to a trusted form to get faster results – experts know how to deal with the problem. Take action as soon as possible to address the problem, and go over and above as regards to honesty and transparency. If you really did cause the problem yourself, admit it and make it up to injured parties twice over.
Keep in mind that forest fires can jump and flare again in a new location, so even if you have smothered them in one spot they can unexpectedly resurface elsewhere. Watch for lingering effects of the situation and continue to blot them away. Continue to monitor and measure public perceptions long after the immediate crisis has passed to see if there are lasting implications for your brand and reputation, and act accordingly.
If you follow these steps, you will survive, but it is best to be prepared and have a contingency plan before damage ever occurs.