Here at Minc Law, we can take almost any online defamation case and offer a solution. We work hard on behalf of our clients to remove negative and unwanted content from the internet, but unfortunately content cannot always be removed. When content removal isn’t an option, we recommend utilizing online reputation management services.
Generally, getting content removed with legal services is almost always a better option than suppressing content. However, online reputation management (ORM) is a better option than legal content removal in cases where:
- the content is still newsworthy;
- the content has gone viral;
- the content is related to a serious crime;
- legal action will take too long.
In this article, we’ll provide a guide to ORM services, including:
- What online reputation management is
- Who needs online reputation management
- Who needs legal content removals
- The benefits of online reputation management and legal content removal
- How to suppress negative or unwanted content
- What else can be done to respond to negative content
Let’s get started with an explanation of what ORM actually entails.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation Managers (“ORM”) handle the reputation of a company, person, product, or service on the internet. The goal of ORM is to give a person or entity direct control over the results displayed when searching for a certain keyword.
This is primarily done in two ways: proactively and retroactively. One method is to create a foundation of positive content to safeguard against potential future negative content. The other method is to suppress existing negative content by promoting positive alternatives.
Who Needs ORM?
Anyone who has unwanted content on the internet can benefit from ORM. According to Forbes, nearly half of U.S. adults say their Google results aren’t positive. This is bad news because most employers and potential customers conduct Google searches before hiring or doing business with a person. Any negative search result has the power to impact your business or personal name and create turmoil in your life forever.
This is particularly important for anyone who may be undergoing heightened scrutiny, including students applying for college, job seekers, or business professionals.
Online Reputation Management Pricing & Timeframe
Most ORM service providers charge a flat, recurring monthly fee for reputation management. It can take at least three months to see results from ORM services, so many companies require a paid commitment for at least six months.
ORM is an ongoing commitment that you must continue with in order to see positive results. Since ORM services do not remove negative content, once you stop paying for services, the negative content being suppressed often reappears back on the first page of search results.
What is Legal Content Removal?
Legal content removal entails controlling the online narrative of a person or entity by removing negative content from the Internet. Besides removing negative content, legal content removals can also reduce the chance of future negative content reappearing in your search results. For this type of service, you will need to request the help of an attorney.
One of the key differences between legal content removal and ORM is that attorneys can help you identify anonymous offenders. This is particularly important in a situation where you are the victim of repeated attacks by an anonymous Internet user. Once you identify the anonymous poster attacking your brand online, you can deal with them directly, either through negotiation or a court order to remove content. This helps reduce the risk of future negative content from that poster.
The attorneys at Minc Law provide legal content removal and digital risk management services. Our firm has removed more than 25,000 negative and unwanted webpages on behalf of our clients. This includes content like fake Google reviews, news articles, videos, rumors on gossip forums (like TheDirty.com), mugshots, private images, and more. It is important to keep in mind that content removal is rarely guaranteed, and your chances of success will be largely dependent on your unique circumstances. If you are considering hiring an attorney to pursue legal content removal, we are happy to provide you with a free consultation so that you can determine your best course of action.
Reputation Management Tip: Setting up a Google Alerts account is a proactive and effective method to combat online defamation. Simply set up an alert for your name or specific keywords and receive alerts anytime your name or keyword is mentioned online.
Legal Content Removal Pricing & Timeframe
Because content removal services are tailored to each person’s individual circumstances, pricing can vary. Attorneys are paid hourly, so the cost of content removal fluctuates based on the amount of time required to get an answer on whether content will be taken down. While some cases are resolved in less than three months, and others take much longer.
The good news is that once your content is removed, you won’t need to continue paying monthly fees like you do with ORM services.
Bottom line: legal content removal results are more permanent and effective than ORM tactics like suppression, and can potentially save you money in the long run.
When is ORM a Better Option Than Content Removal?
Content removal is a viable option in many cases, but there are certain situations where removal might not be possible or equitable.
Content removal may not be the best option when:
- the content is newsworthy or related to a serious crime
- the content has gone viral and appears on more than 100 sites
- there are certain situations where ORM services may be quicker than waiting for relief legally
As attorneys, it’s our job to provide clients with recommendations that suit their best interests. We do not recommend content removal unless we think the content can successfully be removed in a way that meets your goals. Fortunately, thanks to ORM, content removal is not your only option for dealing with negative or unwanted content.
To learn why attorneys, specifically, are your best option for online reputation management, check out our article on the subject, “5 Benefits of Hiring an Internet Defamation Lawyer“.
Defamation Removal Tip: Some defamatory statements are so serious, a victim does not have to prove damages. This is known as ‘Defamation Per Se.’ Most U.S. states recognize four categories of ‘defamation per se’: (1) statements imputing a loathsome disease, (2) statements imputing unchastity or sexual promiscuity, (3) statements imputing the commission of a crime, and (4) statements implying a person is unfit for their work, profession, business, or job.
In general, online reputation management is more effective than content removal in the following circumstances:
The Negative Content is Too New and Newsworthy
Here’s an example: A news article came out about you a week ago describing a crime or arrest. If you were, in fact, arrested and charged with a crime and there is a pending trial, your likelihood of getting the content removed is slim to none.
In our experience, we have found it’s harder to remove articles if they are new or pending trial. However, once the case is over you may have a chance at removing the news article. This chance is increased if you were exonerated, or your case has been expunged or sealed.
Either way, a thorough analysis of your case will help us determine if our content removal services are your best option, or if ORM will work better.
The Negative Content Has Gone Viral
Here’s an example: A post about you has been picked up by more than 100 sites. Now, you’re even seeing the content shared on social media and the content has been reproduced and shared by hundreds of people.
If the negative or unwanted content went viral, such as a news article, blog photo, video or even a recording of your voice, content removal can be extremely difficult and expensive. While some content may be able to be removed, it is likely that all of the content will not come down. This generally makes ORM a better option than legal services.
Content Removal Tip: There are certain types of content most sites will voluntarily remove, quickly. This includes (1) illegal content, (2) child pornography, (3) revenge porn, (4) content you authored that you want removed.
The Negative Content is of a Serious Nature
Here’s an example: The negative content listing your name or business is an article about a serious crime like a terrorist attack, murder, or rape.
Even if you weren’t the perpetrator of a crime, it’s possible your name may be included in an article covering the crime. Think of celebrities like Ariana Grande and the Manchester Arena bombing or Jason Aldean and the Vegas mass shooting. In both cases, high profile celebrities (who presumably value their reputations) were forever linked with deadly terrorist attacks.
Their names are mentioned in nearly every article covering the attacks, yet they did not engage in any criminal activity. While they do not deserve to be forever linked to such terrible events, the viral content detailing the attacks are not removable. After all, the content is not only serious, but viral and incredibly newsworthy.
If you find yourself in such a position, ORM is your best option for restoring your reputation. You may not be able to remove the negative content, but you can suppress it by adding positive content. This will push the negative content beyond the first page of search results.
Legal Action Will Take Too Long
Here’s an example: An article has been posted accusing you of a serious crime. You did not commit the crime and know you’ll be cleared once your case goes to trial (if it even makes it that far).
When negative content like this appears online, it can be devastating. Often, news media jump on criminal allegations long before a case goes to trial. Unfortunately, when defendants are found not guilty (or a case is dropped before trial), articles are rarely retracted or corrected. At the same time, people who are viewing the content may look at headlines, jump to a conclusion, and fail to read follow up articles that exonerate a suspected defendant.
As discussed, news articles are difficult to remove when they are related to a pending trial. The legal process is slow and it can be months or years before charges are dropped or a case is concluded. Chances are, you won’t want to wait this long to start reputation damage control. It’s important to start ORM as soon as possible, while you’re waiting for a final outcome.
Depending on the outcome of your case, you may eventually be able to get the negative content completely removed. But, ORM will enable you to protect your reputation before that point.
You Want to Protect Against Future Attacks & Bolster Your Online Reputation
Here’s an example: You’re running for office and want pristine online search results. You know that during your campaign, your opponents will try everything to diminish your reputation. You expect that negative content is likely to appear.
Politicians and candidates face an uphill battle when it comes to content removal and defamation claims. This is because political commentary is protected by the First Amendment. Twenty-nine U.S. states have Anti-SLAPP statutes, that provide for dismissal of lawsuits filed against people for the exercise of their First Amendment rights. The goal of most Anti-SLAPP laws is to promote public participation and encourage citizens to speak their mind about political participants.
In this type of situation, the best option for repairing your online reputation is to use professional ORM services. This way, you can bury negative content with positive, reputation-affirming content. While this is a particularly good strategy for political candidates, it is also helpful for others as well. Politicians are not the only individuals who benefit from maintaining a positive reputation. If you want to curb negative content, but don’t have a valid legal claim like defamation, ORM can help you protect your reputation as well.
What Are the Benefits of ORM?
Online reputation management enables you to safeguard your reputation against the damage of negative content. Often, negative content is posted anonymously or protected by free speech. This leaves ORM and suppression as your best option.
Since even a single negative search result has been shown to result in financial losses, preserving your reputation online is a necessity. If you have a business, you may even be able to boost profits with the use of proactive ORM. When you ensure that flattering information is readily available, potential consumers will often choose you over competitors with negative results.
Positive content can also protect against future negative attacks, by filling your first page of search results. A person considering posting negative content may refrain if they feel no one will ever see their content. If they do decide to share their negative content, it will be more difficult to find.
How Does Online Reputation Management Work?
Since the majority of users do not scroll past the first page, one ORM strategy is to push negative content off page one of your search results. This is achieved through a method called “suppression.” To suppress content, you want to create positive content that will show up on the first page of your search results.
The more positive content you create, the further you can push back negative content (and the less likely people are to see the negative content). Only about 13 percent of internet users will view search results beyond four pages, so suppression can be nearly as effective as outright removal.
One simple suppression tactic is to create social media accounts. When someone searches your name, your social media accounts will be the first results that appear.
You can also create and post articles that help you establish leadership within your industry. Some businesses and influencers take this a step further and self-publish books to bolster their reputation.
Depending on a client’s specific goals, we may aggressively promote positive assets that help advance the client’s career. In the broad scope of ORM, we explore any and all options for generating positive content online. This includes press releases interviews, YouTube videos, and website development. We also have some tools in the box that are not known to the general public.
Online Reputation Management Service Providers
ORM is now popular enough that several companies specialize in online reputation management. These companies are not usually law firms. Guaranteed Removals.com is one reputation company that offers reputation management services.
Reputation X is a similar company offering online reputation management and repair. While these are some of the more popular ORM service providers, a variety of ORM companies can be found online.
What Else Can Be Done to Respond to Negative Content?
The best way to respond to negative online content will differ based on your situation and goals. However, it is best to start with content removal. If you’re able to get the content removed, you won’t have to worry about paying for suppression services in perpetuity. After all, there’s no need to suppress content if it has been removed.
ORM is the best option in cases where the content is newsworthy, viral, related to a serious crime, or legal action will take too long. Generally, ORM should be your last resort because it can only hide content, not remove it. The most permanent result can only be attained through complete removal.
Attorneys have a wide skill set for dealing with negative online content. They can negotiate with website owners, send cease and desist letters, draft DMCA takedown notices, and obtain court orders. Additionally, offenders tend to respond more quickly to attorney-drafted communications because they take the matter more seriously.
If legal content removal is not an option or proves ineffective, move on to Plan B: ORM.
If the negative content causes you to experience financial losses, you may wish to pursue a defamation lawsuit to recover your losses.
Minc Law Can Help With Your Online Reputation Management
Whether you need legal advice, representation, or online reputation management, we can help. The attorneys at Minc Law offer online reputation management services in addition to a full suite of legal services.
“Darcy was professional and patient with helping with a online reputation matter. She handled all my queries in a timely manner and she got the job done.”
Oliver W., July 23, 2021
If you’re unsure which strategy will work best for you, check out our Legal Resource Center or contact us for a consultation. To schedule a free consultation with the online reputation lawyers of Minc Law, call (216) 373-7706 or fill out our online contact form.