Defamation involves the protection of your personal brand or your corporate brand.
Protecting your Personal and Corparate Brand
The personal brand is reputation. The corporate brand is goodwill and reputation.
Individuals and companies other than those in the public eye can find themselves libeled in a growing arena of Internet chat rooms, bulletin boards and other interactive web spaces.
Companies need to guard against product or service damage.
If you believe you have been ‘defamed’ please
call 01604 622101 or email your story to:
We can help you with: -
- Defamation (libel and slander)
- On-line Defamation
- Freedom of information assistance
- Data protection assistance
- Privacy and breach of confidence advice
- Reputation management
The age of Social Media
Now, more than ever businesses face a battle to protect their brand integrity with Facebook, Twitter and other online channels offering instant 'live' communication to virtually everyone on the planet. So, how do you protect the brand you have spent so long cultivating?
SLANDER ON THE WEB - a few tips for managing your reputation
I know, none of us like to think of things going wrong, but it has to be faced up to: whether or not there is a problem with any of the products or services you provide, people’s expectations and perceptions can lead them to disappointment and criticism.
If you are using the electronic media to publicise your products and services, (and who isn’t?) adverse comment can quickly arise and spread. It needs to be managed and contained swiftly. Negative comment on the web, for instance Facebook or Twitter, can spread quickly and it only has a short shelf life. That is why you need to get your plans in place and act quickly and decisively. If you dither and then react the chances are you will prolong attention on the subject rather than shorten it and squash it.
To prepare for this you need to anticipate – forewarned is forearmed!
Clients instruct us to take legal steps, but we often end up advising them how to actively manage the situation and trying to implement counter measures which really should have been in place before – for instance ensuring employees have appropriate restrictions in their employment contracts. So managing your reputation is not recourse to the Lawyers when things go wrong, but planning for it now. Here are some ideas to get you started.
ACTIVE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
Rather than just promoting your products and services you should be actively promoting your reputation. This could include factors such as the way you conduct business with your customers and preserve relationships with them - i.e. fair pricing, response to queries and problems.
- Do you publicise your commitment to the preservation of the environment, reducing pollution and lowering your carbon footprint?
- Do you invest in the local community, such as active participation in community issues?
- Are there any other corporate social responsibility issues you follow?
Take time to think what it is you do and how you do it that can be advertised alongside your business sales and marketing activity.
HAVING PLANS FOR DAMAGE CONTROL
You should have plans in place to control and contain any negative publications, which will include:
- Contacting the complainant, finding out what has gone wrong, how you could put it right and why they went public with their dissatisfaction.
- Contacting those who may have read or heard about the publication and giving them assurance. Publishing your own corrections and statement giving your side of the story.
Making sure the tap is turned off.
It is this last aspect, which is where we can add to your own action. Turning off the tap may be measures taken for Defamation,
Breach of Confidence, Infringement of Privacy or occasionally, for Infringement of Copyright/Trademark.
A defamatory statement is ‘…one that tends to lower the Claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally…’
You are not normally required to prove that you suffered damage to your reputation or even that you had a good reputation in the first place; although a bad reputation may affect the amount of damages you are able to claim.
To be able to resist a claim the complainant must be able to prove the truth of the statement or rely on one of the other defamation defences – fair comment or privilege.
Our activity will be to receive your instructions, investigate your circumstances and how they compare with the relevant law, advise you on your position in law whilst: -
a. Writing to the complainant (now your Defendant) informing how they have infringed your legal rights and what steps they must take to remedy that, including retractions and apologies,
payment of damages and payment of our legal costs;
b. Letter, fax and email notice to any ISP provider informing them of your position in law, putting them on notice that the posting is defamatory and insisting that they take it down or suspend access while they further investigate.
An employee or previous employee posting defamatory material may also be liable to an action for breach of confidence (and/or breach of confidentiality). Most complainants will back down in the face of legal pressure and ISP’s have a ‘notice and take down procedure’ which they will operate if we establish genuine substance to your notice.
Familiarising us with your business model and including us in your plans will dramatically reduce the cost of instructing us. We recommend that once all your plans are in place, you ask us to go through them with you and steer you. Included in a small monthly fee is: -
a. An initial meeting and consultation of any length
b. Maintenance of an active Reputation Management file open at our office at all times ready for immediate action
c. An annual review of your systems and plans.
This is a huge topic to cover and the elements raised here are only a starting point but we hope they will give you food for thought. Please contact John Cato on