On Your Side: Defending your reputation online
Published Monday, November 12, 2012 11:09PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:22AM EST
MONTREAL--Paul Broomfield is usually pretty Zen about life, but when someone started writing awful things about him online, no amount of yoga was enough.
“It was like psychic rape, I ended up saying please stop,” said Broomfield, a victim of online harassment.
It all started three years ago when Broomfield received several nasty emails from an anonymous sender.
“There was quite a litany of accusations,” said Broomfield.
He quickly deleted them, but later realized that was a mistake because he had no proof to show police.
But when his email got hacked and someone changed the contents of his blog he knew he had to take action.
“It had already created a ripple or people's perception of me or my reputation,” said Broomfield.
Defending personal and corporate online reputations has become an industry, with more and more lawyers and I.T. experts emerging to help clean up and maintain reputations.
But lawyer Sunny Handa says unless someone is threatening you physically online, police have little time to devote to this kind of complaint. Legally pursuing someone who damages your reputation isn't the ideal way to go at it either.
“Legal pursuit is difficult, it's costly and it's very expensive to go before the courts,” said Handa. He says the best strategy is to try to face your attacks head-on and counteract the negativity online yourself.
Broomfield didn't know who his attacker was, so he eventually turned to Jasmine Goyer, a marketing and online reputation expert.
“if someone is attacking you directly, it's important to have a crisis management plan in place,” said Goyer, adding that the best plan for individuals or companies is to deal with the attack head-on.
You should respond in three steps: bring the comments into the open, have a discussion and then move forward to rebranding. And once you have responded, use social media to create your own noise—or brand—as much as possible.
“Get yourself out there and start promoting,” said Goyer. “It's not always about the negative, but creating and building the positive: taking control of your online reputation and not allowing yourself to be bullied on-line.”
Broomfield said social networking did help him recover his reputation.
“Alot of it was just getting more positive content online, a website, certain press releases, Twitter,” said Broomfield. His yoga teachings helped carry him through the tough times.
“Even if no one else was my friend, I was my friend, and that's probably in a lot of ways what carried me through,” said Broomfield. He learned a lot about judgment and what's really important to him.