Kevin Joy: With the proliferation of the Internet there are many more opportunities for a company's reputation to be damaged including identity theft, the sale of counterfeit products, and false endorsement claims. At BD-BrandProtect we have developed the technology and expertise to help our clients gain visibility over how their brand is represented online, and help them mitigate negative influences while leveraging new insights and opportunities for their brands.
The basis of what we do is to help customers protect the three “R's”: rights (intellectual property and ownership dilution), revenue (search engine optimization, online traffic and channel effectiveness), and reputation (erosion due to impact of customer experience beyond the corporate website).
PRWeek: Monitoring the Internet is a large undertaking. Any tips?
Joy: Monitoring the Internet is more than just conducting a Google search and putting in spam filters. To do the job properly, a company would have to monitor millions of Web pages, e-mails, blogs, and other online content 24/7. The data from these activities must then be filtered for relevance and prioritized, after which mitigation procedures must be initiated.
The best tip we can give is to outsource to an expert. Brand owners should also seek the threat expertise of a company that understands the potential impact of infractions and their level of severity. It's also crucial to have extensive relationships with ISPs (Internet service providers) and domain registrars as well as jurisdictional authorities in other countries, and the ability to work in multiple languages.
PRWeek: BrandProtect also gets involved in mitigating online threats to corporate reputation. Can you talk about how you get involved? What steps you take?
Joy: There are many lurking threats to both corporate brands and reputations beyond those described previously, including corporate reputation attacks and “blogstorms”; disgruntled employees commentary on social media sites; and domain names and trademarks being hijacked. Attacks are also much more sophisticated and perpetrators are finding more places to hide. Many deliberately register domains and launch attacks in “less friendly” jurisdictions, where authorities and ISPs are more challenging to work with.
Some activities require a takedown of a fraudulent Web site (or multiple sites). In the case of a single attack, BrandProtect can track down the source and notify the ISP to take it down. Where multiple sites/countries are involved, BrandProtect will work with local authorities to track the perpetrators and coordinate multiple takedowns.
When a brand infraction is detected – such as the misuse of a logo or photo – BrandProtect will notify the customer so they can take the appropriate action. In many cases, the infractions are harmless, such as the use of a logo on a charity site.
Mitigation can range from a friendly warning to cease and desist communications to legal intervention – in many cases with international legislative and law enforcement agencies. For companies that don't have adequate legal resources in-house, BrandProtect can engage in any or all phases of the mitigation process on their behalf.