Reputation - Both Corporate and Personal

It has been an interesting week - a few blog posts out there attacking others, a nice article on online reputation that was syndicated from the Seattle Times, and a phone call via Facebook asking me about ... defending your reputation because of blogs.

Let's start at the attacks - famously on TechCrunch some guy named Ronald is using's software to lifecast his ... well, so-called life. That's fine. I've worn the hat, I've done the shtick with Justin's hat ... and while I would not do it fulltime, I can appreciate the performance art aspect of it, and think Justin's done a great job with the shtick.

Originally uploaded by b_d_solis.

Ronald, though, got into a little (forced) tiff at the movie theater. He wanted to wear his cap and lifecast from the movies ... and boy, wouldn't the MPAA love that. He tried to explain what lifecasting is - and, since I've seen Justin explain it, I do know that it's sometimes a trick to people. When Bryanna politely told Ronald no ... he called her a bitch.

Fine. I look at it as typical Detroit self-esteem issues (I know, I was born in that former city). It's his right to call her a bitch and be unhappy with her treatment of him and his art ... but what was the purpose of using Bryanna's full name? To Google Juice her so that the first thing that comes up is someone calling her a fucking bitch? Um, great.

And, well, it shows a lack of honesty and respect to the "practice" of lifecasting. Anyone that blogs knows that if you have a big enough audience, and use a not "internet famous" person's name ... you will own that name on Google. It just shows a lack of respect or humanity ... but what about Bryanna now? Her name is fully linked to that video, and unless she begins blogging or uses a system like ReputationDefender ... her name will forever be attached to that While Ronald is going to apologize to her (hey, it's another chance to do a video!), is that going to show up in Google as well? There is a certain bit of responsibility social media has ... and instances like this show a lack of understanding of the esprit de corps of social media. Game over because a simple lack of respect or humanity has not hurt someone else's online reputation.

Now, here's a flip side. You're a young, brash blogger and you're taking on the world! You're young, you're hip ... you're the cat's meow. And, all these social media PR people - quite a few that have earned their stripes because of projects that they have done, and clients they have worked on - well, they're old farts that can never understand social media like the young buck you are because you're that MySpace / Facebook generation.

No, serious. Read about it on David Parmet's blog - and love well, the attitude.

And, that's fine. I love a little bit of 'tude as much as the next person. But, when you are representing a wire service - oh, like Marketwire - does it really behoove you (or the company) to insult and alienate a large group of PR practitioners? You know, I am in the market for a wire service right now, and I have my choices of PR Newswire, Businesswire and PR Web ... but Marketwire is not on that list.

Yes, here's an example of one person's action resulting in potentially hurting the employer; we can write this off as the impetuousness of youth. We can also point to a fun PC Magazine example ... and write that off as a naked emperor incident. Either way, though, the action of employees hurts the corporate parent. Those are just two quickie examples, but the bloggers can (and likely will) steal Google Juice that should be going to the original source. What can corporations do to protect themselves? Well, simple social media and blogging policies should help ... but not necessarily do enough. Employees can co-opt a corporations identity and brand, and make it their own. And, while that might sound nice in a social media aspect, we should rather have our brands co-opted by our customers, not the employees.

But, at the end of the day - it is about your own reputation. What do you do if you are a high-level employee at a corporation, and when you leave, the message trolls come out and come attacking? Soon, those results are the top results for your name.

Or, on another, more basic level - it does not even have to be leaving a job or starting a new job - schools are so wired, and people are so networked through networks like Facebook and MySpace, Facebook is searchable via Google (unless you opted-out, which I did) that your reputation is formed both through your own content and what others think of you ... and knowing human nature, that's not necessarily a good thing.

Photo by Brian Solis

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  1. Jeremy,

    There are a few things to clarify that those in the blogosphere continue to misconstrue:

    1. I do not wear a headcam or cap -- The camera is attached to my shoulder

    2. I was not seeking permission to broadcast in the movie theatre -- I always turn off my gear prior to each movie ... I think this was made apparent in my blog entry, but for the sake of gossip, this was never mentioned

    3. I did not call Bryanna a "fucking bitch" directly to her face -- It was an afterthought, and hey, we all have those moments

    4. Being born in Detroit has nothing to do with this incident -- That's irrelevant. And self-esteem issues? You're stirring the pot.

    I initially took offense to her approach (which didn't seem all that friendly to me) and as mentioned before, I've never been approached by anyone until this moment. Thus, it was both surprising and startling -- It's only human that we're not best prepared to respond to a confrontation in a way which is deemed appropriate by our ever so righteous society

    5. With regard to reputation, I disagree that Bryanna will suffer anything. If anyone has anything to lose, it would be myself, simply because of the negative spin that was placed upon this.

    There was never any interest from TechCrunch and others for being a decent human being, but "slip up" in the eye's of society and you'll soon find yourself the target of a stone throwers everywhere.

  2. Ronald - I'll give you point 1 and 2. Fine, you don't wear a cap, it's on your shoulder. Fine, you were going to turn it off, and not lifecast the movie ... I watched the video.

    But, well, 3 - you don't say it to her face, but if you do search for her full name, your blog post comes up. That, in a nutshell, is where you fail. Yes, we have all said things in anger or in the heat of the moment. You blogged, though, much later and STILL used her full name. That's a hit job, pure and simple.

    4. Yah, born at Sinai. I look at what Michigan has become, and shake my head.

    5. See above, RE: Google search. Her next employee will search her name in Google, and you calling her a fucking bitch is the first results. End-of-story.

  3. Suffice it to say Jeremy, a prospective employer will pull that up, and I know this because we are teaching employers how to use the social media for this very thing.

    I guess the real question now is how does one patch this problem? Is this type of thing going to be actionable? Can we as individuals request that such things be stricken from search results? This is going to be an ongoing debate and something that will eventually be adjudicated in the courts I think.
    I always wonder how my public life will someday turn out to be a nightmare for me, but I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when it becomes a problem.

  4. Hey Jeremy...

    Call me crazy here, but aren't *you* doing Bryanna a disservice by *not* using her full name here?

    I would hope PopPR would have enough GoogleJuice left to at least pop the top-10 entries, and in the process salvage some of her online reputation.

    Was that a consideration in writing your post?

  5. It appears my blog entry was removed entirely from Google's index. Congrats to the person responsible for removing *my* content from Google.

  6. Ike - actually, I thought about it and it was a conscious decision to not use her full name. I did not think that she needed another blog pointing to the situation, as Ronald's and DIGG already did point to the situation.

  7. Really a pity, Jeremy. For a minute I had considered the possibility that, like many others who have since written me directly or on their own blogs, who understood the value of that post and simply engaged in either Devil's Advocacy or defended your friend (David) when he elected not to do so himself. To see that you truly missed the point is something of a disappointment. Ah well, I'll leave the irony of your last comment, prior to this post, for others to decide...

    "... Well, it appears you have to have the last word."

    You're welcome to again have the final word as I remove my subscription to this Blog.

    - Paul

  8. Paul, good riddance.

    After reading Paolina's exchange on IR Web Report, I know that you guys are not part of the community, but self interested flacks that don't get community.

    You're the perfect example for my "transparency is bullshit" post - you don't care about the online PR blogosophere, but only how to hype yourself and your companies.