Clearing Your Name after Defamatory Statements is Difficult, but Not Impossible
Defamatory accusations online can destroy the reputations of both individuals and entire organizations. This type of allegations spread around in the media and online, is typically worse than complaints related to poor quality or customer service. Accusations can lead to businesses going bankrupt and people having their reputation completely destroyed.
There are different sources when it comes to defamatory accusations. Reputation management firms often warn about the risk of ex-employees, ex-spouses, ex-clients and ex-partners that hold grudges. Defamatory statements warrant legal action.
However a lawsuit should be the last resort option. Litigation can be costly, drawn out and often uncertain. It’s better to attempt other things first.
Often simply asking to remove a defamatory statement can be enough. Bloggers and website administrators will generally remove incorrect and offensive statements upon request. The more reluctant website administrators may take action after a formal cease and desist letter. No one wants to be involved in a costly lawsuit.
When a defamatory accusation appears, it is vital to take quick before it spreads online and scar the company’s or individual’s reputation.
Defamation on the internet will catch on very quickly and can persist for many years. The chance that it will simply go away or be forgotten is often minimal. Once defamatory statements spread, it becomes far more challenging and costly to remove them.
A good solution is to use a media monitoring tool that can notify when your company, product, company executives are mentioned online, including on social media, allowing you to react as soon as possible.
Review Public Responses Carefully
When the competition or frustrated customer makes inaccurate statements, the immediate reaction is to counter it in the media. However, attacking an accuser in the media or online may only worsen the situation.
If a public response is necessary, the best approach is to consult with the PR and legal expert before responding. Public statements can also be used against you and create further legal obstacles. A typical initial action is to post a carefully worded and thoroughly reviewed statement on social media and your website. Use your response to address misinformation, not to attack the adversary.
Preparation is Crucial
With good preparation and documentation an organization is equipped to quickly address defamatory attacks.
Prepare a crisis plan that assigns roles to people that can quickly address a PR issue and outlines the strategy for communicating with the media, public and other stakeholders.
Not that it is desirable, but public accusations can sometimes turn around for your brand. The attacker’s lack of credibility may dissuade the public from believing the accusations and may reinforce their trust in your organization. Your company’s thoughtful response may prove to be a public relations success.