Someone online hates you - ethical approaches to online reputation management for lawyers

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  • Note that 80-85% of professional reviews are positive. But somebody, somewhere, isn’t going to like you
  • What do you do if you don’t like what someone writes about you online? You could sue, but you probably don’t have a case. And even if you do, it can backfire. ** Consider 47 USC 230 **
  • Photographer Kenneth Adelman was photographing beachfront property as past of the California Coastal Records Project. This photo was placed online, in a collection of 12,000 photos of the California coastline. In 2003, Streisand sued for $50M. This drove massive traffic to the site.
  • In 2009, Amanda Bonnen tweeted:“Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks its OK.” She had less than 20 followers on Twitter. Less impactful than talking with a couple of her friends. Horizon sued for $50,000, got tons of negative publicity, and lost.
  • Rakofsky vs. the Internet
  • Anti-SLAPP. WA, CA and 30 other states have anti-SLAPP laws. Special Motion to Strike; you’ll pay attorney’s fees and a $10,000 fine. Ken Aronson sued Moore and his production company for invasion of privacy and misappropriation of likeness; his voice and likeness appeared for 71 seconds in the film.
  • Often used in political campaignsAstroturfing definition: "falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of an orchestrated and disguised public relations exercise....designed to give the impression of spontaneous support for an idea/product/company/service" (source: CIPR Social Media Guidelines)
  • Purpose: Fix the situation; “Save” the clientTheme: Establish a polite, authentic relationshipThank the review for their patronage and feedbackRespond to their concernsWhat can make it worse:RudenessCondescensionInsincerityAttacking the reviewerWhat to do:Thank them for the visit and feedbackTalk to any changes you’ve implemented because of the reviewRemember that prospective clients will learn more about you from your response
  • Don’t be shy about asking clients for reviews. The ones who like your service are likelier to leave a review anyway.
  • Cards used by Swedish Hospital in Seattle
  • Solicit Reviews. Make it a part of the client exit process, or use the Avvo form. No issue under Washington RPC.Discuss Florida, issues in other states
  • You can’t control social media, but you can shape it. This works both to “push down” negative feedback AND sell your services.David Ogilvy: “Long copy sells more than short copy, particularly when you are asking the reader to spend a lot of money.”Victor Schwab: “A salesman does not say, “How do you do?” speak a few words about his product, then ask you to sign the order. No; he uses enough words to get your emotions and reasoning power flowing toward a sale.Yet many advertisements virtually say little more than “Hello—Our product is wonderful—Good-by.”Likewise, it is obvious (but often overlooked) that no reader can be influenced by good sales angles which don’t appear in the advertisement at all.”
  • This is a very common way a client referral will search: name + geo. Often adding “attorney” or “lawyer”This is what “long copy sells” means in the online world – having a deep well of information about you and your practice available EVERYWHERE online.


  • 1. Someone Online Hates You:Ethical Approaches to Online Reputation Management Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 2. Introduction Josh King General Counsel & Vice President, Business Development Avvo, Inc. Twitter: @joshuamking Email: Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 3. People trust other people Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 4. Everything is Reviewed Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 5. The Internet Hate Machine Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 6. How a User Review Can Make You Feel Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 7. Ways to Handle Negative Reviews• File a defamation lawsuit?• Write your own positive reviews?or . . .• Consider the feedback objectively• Write a response• Ask other clients to leave reviews• Build a wall of content Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 8. Bring a Defamation Lawsuit? Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 9. “See You in Court!” Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 10. The Streisand Effect Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 11. Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 12. Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 13. Anti-SLAPP Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 14. Write Your Own Reviews? Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 15. “Astroturfing” Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 16. Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 17. How to Turn a Negative into a Positive (or at least neutralize it) Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 18. Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 19. Negative Reviews = Market Research Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 20. Responding Directly to Negative Reviews Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 21. Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 22. ExamplesGood Comments Professional has 5 reviews Four are 5-Star One is 1-Star Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 23. ExamplesGood Comments Professional has 4 reviews Three are 5-Star One is 1-Star Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 24. ExamplesIneffective/Corrosive Comments Professional has 4.5 stars based on 94 reviews Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 25. Go Ahead and Ask for Reviews Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 26. Review Solicitation Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 27. Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 28. Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 29. Building a Wall of Content Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 30. Online Content “Real prospects — especially prospects responsible for spending large sums — are hungry for information. Research shows that advertisements with really long copy actually tend to get read more thoroughly then advertisements with shorter copy. You might be able to sell a candy bar with very short copy but you could never make a case for buying a Cessna Citation in a handful of words.” - David Ogilvy Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 31. Owning Your “Online Real Estate” Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013
  • 32. Questions? Stay up to date on Josh King developments in the law of General Counsel & social media – and get notification of upcoming Vice President, Business Development free Avvo CLE webinars – Avvo, Inc. with my new monthly email newsletter: Twitter: @joshuamking “Socially Awkward – Where Email: Social Media Meets the Practice of Law” Email “subscribe” to Avvo, Inc. Confidential - ©2013