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Common Forms of Negative Publicity

I have been asked what are the most common forms of negative publicity that I see on the internet. This really depends on whether the client is an individual or corporation. There are some similarities and differences in the negative PR that a company or individual will usually have to face.

Here is one 
major similarity

Whether we are referring to a company or an individual it all begins at the same place. As soon as you develop a name for yourself!

If you develop a name for yourself, I don't care if your Gandhi or Mother Teresa - You will attract negative publicity! 


Don't believe me?
Here is a web site that claims Gandhi was a self centered man full of useless rhetoric.
http://www.deeshaa.org/2004/07/03/on-gandhian-self-sufficiency/

And here's one that says Mother Teresa was a fanatic, fundamentalist, fraud.
http://www.slate.com/id/2090083/

So, what are the common forms of negative publicity?

CORPORATE 

NEW IDEA BUCKING THE OLD
If a company is new and innovative in a traditional niche than they are guaranteed to attract negative publicity.  The people who don't like change will make sure that their sentiments are known on blogs, forums and in front of anyone else who will listen to them. These blogs and forums get indexed by the big search engines. The search engines than see your name listed on the site multiple times and Wala! The negative site comes up when someone types in your name.

THE UNHAPPY CUSTOMER
I see this one quite frequently. The simple truth is their are people out their who are just weird. I don't know how else to put it. And for some reason those people are also very unreasonable. A company can have 999 satisfied customers and the 1 unhappy customer decides to spout off on every forum and blog about the company being a rip-off. And unfortunately the majority 'positive' customers don't have near same amount of motivation to speak out about your company!

INDIVIDUAL 

RUMORS
Rumors, rumors, rumors, rumors, and rumors. Some people love to talk about rumors almost all of which have to be negative for some reason. Forums, blogs, personnel web sites, even more authorative news sites all have the tendency to pick them up.

OUTDATED ALLEGATIONS
In the United States and other countries you can sue someone for just about anything. So a news outlet or other site writes a story about the fact that you are being indicted. Many people immediately associate that word with - 'criminal'. But if they scroll to the bottom of the page they will find that this report is ten years old and you were proved innocent nine years ago! But, since Google and Yahoo place so much trust in older content, up pops this outdated allegation when someone types in your name!

Update : 6/14/07
This situation as a whole should improve. Amit Singhal the leader of the ranking algorithm team at Google has started a new initiative entitled QDF "Query Deserves Freshness". Basically this means that it should a little easier than it was before to have new positive publicity outrank your old negative publicity. The only problem is there is no guarantee that they will apply "QDF" to your name (search query). But, if they do than outranking the old sites will be a little easier for me, so it's definitely good news. The down side is that new negative content could also rank rather quickly but as long as you have someone like me continually publishing positive content than that shouldn't be a problem.

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