This week we interviewed the guy behind reputation HAWK dot com. Interesting name – so what exactly do they do?
Well, this is where it gets interesting. If you or your company is getting bashed on the net – they can evidently ‘fix’ it. But they don’t contact the owners of the offending web sites which is what we immediately assumed, instead they focus on pushing the negative information off of the first few pages in Google. This new field is known as internet reputation management or online reputation management.
That appears to be what matters the most. These days when someone want’s to know something, in unison, we all go to the same place – the mother of all information, Google, lovely google. Have you tried Googling your name or your company’s name lately? If your company is getting attacked on the front page of Google then it’s almost a lock that your bottom line is already being negatively affected. This is where the reputation Hawk service comes in. So, check out the interview below with the web site’s founder – Chris Martin.
BetaFlow :: Okay, so your like an internet janitorial service?
reputationHAWK :: Ha! yea I guess so man. Thanks, I needed a shot of humility today.
BetaFlow :: So, what kind of messes do you clean up?
reputationHAWK :: We usually help companes deal with the negative comments found in open source sites. In most cases the culprits are blogs, forums, or review sites.
BetaFlow :: By open source, you mean?
reputationHAWK :: Web sites that allow visitor comments. Keep in mind there is no accountability system on the internet. Anyone can say anything about anybody and do it anonymously. Have you ever been fired?
BetaFlow :: Maybe.
reputationHAWK :: Well, let’s say you worked at Bob’s Cleaning Supplies and they fired you because you had a habit of coming in too late. You go home angry. What stops you from creating a profile on the internet. You could give yourself the name “Bob Mayberry” and claim you used to be one of their clients. You spend a few hours bashing Bob’s Cleaning Service on the internet in blogs, forums etc. Now when visitors go to Google and type in “Bob’s Cleaning Service” you get inudated with a flood of negative reports. Now Bob’s business is slowing big time and he has no idea why? It’s simple. Bob’s potential clients are going to Google and doing a search on his company’s name. They see all of the negative reports and find a competitor to call.
BetaFlow :: That sucks. So, you come in and do what?
reputationHAWK :: We evaluate the situation and see what we have in front of us. We then put together a plan and work on getting positive information about Bob’s Cleaning Supplies in front of the false negative reports. If we can get the negative publicity out of the top 20 in Google than we are golden. 99% of visitors will stay within the first two pages of Google results.
BetaFlow :: How long does that take?
reputationHAWK :: It totally depends on the amount and strength of the negative publicity.
BetaFlow :: What makes negative publicity strong or weak?
reputationHAWK :: Google uses complex algorithms to rank web sites. There are numerous factors that make up that rank by Google. So, for example if you are being blasted by a page on a web site like Wikipedia, or a government site than that would be considered very strong negative publicity. But if you have some negative press on a remote forum than that is generally weak and much easier to bump in Google. The time frame to clear the top 10 can range from two months to over a year. It is entriely dependent on the strength of the negative pages.
BetaFlow :: Who is your typical client? What’s his story?
reputationHAWK :: Alright, for example, one of our clients offers a web based software program. A few months ago they started a new pricing model. When someone signs up and submits their payment info they are told that their credit card will be charged $29.95 a month until they cancel. This company has many satisfied customers but there are a few who evidently did not pay attention to the payment terms and when their account was debited the following month they went straigt to sites like Rip off Report and Bad Business Bureau. So, when you type in the name of this company the front page is flooded with the negative reports. Just think about the impact it can have. A potential client going to Google to search for info about your company and sees a listing featuring you from a web site called the Rip off Report.
BetaFlow :: So, will you help anyone?
reputationHAWK :: No, some companies simply deserve the negative press. We turn down more inquirers than we take on.
BetaFlow :: Have you been contacted by crazies?
reputationHAWK :: Lol. Sure.
BetaFlow :: Such as?
reputationHAWK :: Let’s see, the other day someone submitted the form on my web site and in the description of the problem field he typed in, “False, outdated information posted by idiots,” I thought that was pretty funny. But, a crazy one, hmmm. Okay this one was pretty bizarre. I get a call from this guy in London. I introduced myself and asked for his name, “Let’s just call me Steve,” he said. That’s when I pretty much wanted to put the phone down and get back to what I was doing but of course my southern hospitality gets me in trouble and I ended up wasting an entire hour talking to him. I assured him of confidentiality and that i needed to know the name that was receiving negative press online or I wouldn’t know whether or not I could help him. He refused and then began telling me this story where I was supposed to imagine and understand his online dilemna and tell him how to fix it. It was something like, “Okay, so you have a guy who works for a company for say twenty years and then all of the sudden he is fired. Well, one of the workers there…” For some foolish reason I got into his game and started trying to follow his story and figure out what his problem was which proved ultimately impossible. At the end of the story I told him that I just needed to know his name. He then said that he could not give it to me and offered this solution instead. He would fly me to London or New York and we would meet at a resteraunt or a hotel lobby. At this point he would still remain anonymous. He would then pay to show him how to fix the problem that I knew nothing about. I don’t remember how I got off the phone but it was no more than a minute after hearing his solution.
BetaFlow :: Could you have shown him how to fix it?
reputationHAWK :: No way, not without knowing who he was and the negative sites he was up against. Plus there is no overnight ‘fix’. There are only solutions that take alot of time and persistence.
BetaFlow :: Do you get contacted by celebrities?
reputationHAWK :: Usually the only time I get contacted by a celebrity is when one of their former acquaintences who knew them before they became famous goes off on them in a forum or blog and the page found it’s way to the front page of Google.
BetaFlow :: So, how do you decide who to help?
reputationHAWK :: We basically have two main criteria. The first one simply relates to ethics. If the company or individual is rightfully receiving negative publicity than we do not have the desire to help him or her bury those negative pages in Google. The second parameter is budget. These projects take alot of man hours and the company has to have some sort of budget room for the campaign if they really want to solve this problem and keep it that way.
BetaFlow :: Final question, if one day the internet dies and with it reputation hawk dot com, what will you do?
reputationHAWK :: I once lived in Costa Rica for a month. I rented this shack in the jungle for $400. The shack sat right next to this beautiful river that was almost crystal clear when it hadn’t rained. The river flowed out into the pacific. When I was there I met this old man who I could tell was an American. I found out that when he was young he was a reporter in Chicago but a tragic family event led him to pack up his things and move to Costa Rica which is where he had been for the past forty years. The local children would bring their broken bicycles to him and he would sit down and fix them. That is basically what he would do during the day. He would fix these kids bycicles and sit on the beach. If the internet died I think I would move my family to that town in Costa Rica and go hang out with him.