6/12/14

How In-House Counsel Can Help Shape Their Companies’ Reputations

Attorneys & Professionals

Company reputations today are largely dictated by what is posted on the internet, both about the companies themselves and their executives.

Gone are the days where reputation is based on building up and maintaining goodwill with consumers over time. As Jennifer Evans, Chief Risk Officer at ANZ, was quoted in a Deloitte report, “reputations built up over decades can be challenged in an instant.”

This, of course, is largely a result of today’s internet and social media landscape, content submitted via a computer or smart phone can have significant consequences for a company.

Accordingly, a 2013 Deloitte survey of 300 executives revealed that reputation is the top strategic risk for large businesses, overall and in most individual sectors.

Dealing with internet defamation, other online reputation attacks

Unfortunately, most companies, at some point, will be forced to deal with attacks to their reputations online. These attacks come in many forms and from many sources, and each company is affected differently by them. Thus, companies cannot use the same tool to fix every problem.

Oftentimes, harmful content will rank high in search engines, meaning consumers are likely to come across the damaging content and can be influenced by it. When this happens, many companies turn to PR and marketing personnel to help influence their online reputations.

But in many instances, no amount of positive publicity used to bury the content down the list of search results will be enough. Instead, the best option is to try to remove the offending content from the search engines or internet altogether, which often requires legal analysis and skills. Thus, attorneys can and should have a substantial role in influencing the company’s online reputation.

Tools and techniques in-house counsel should consider

When a company has been disparaged online, in-house attorneys have several removal techniques to consider, including the following:

As noted, each reputation attack is unique. In the end, choosing the right approach or tool to use involves a balancing of factors: weighing the actual harm versus the costs of a particular response, the associated risks, and the likelihood of success.

For more information, contact Whitney Gibson at 855.542.9192 or wcgibson@vorys.com. Read more about the practice at http://www.defamationremovalattorneys.com, or follow Whitney on Twitter at @WhitneyCGibson.