How To Murder Your Professional Reputation Online

Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Hea...

Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Head. By Henry Fuseli, 1793–94. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MACDUFF: Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.
Most sacrilegious murther hath broke ope 
The Lord’s anointed temple and stole thence
The life o’ the building.

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, ACT II, Scene III

Spam comments are a scourge of the internet. Lately, I have received an average of 100 spam comments per day here, most, if not all, caught by the Aksimet spam filter.

All of these generic pharmaceutical products sound wonderful and I am sure they will give lasting relief, in different measure. The prOn spam, though, lacks any creativity or romance. Aside from the link-love frontal assaults, where’s the love?

But I digress.

I also regularly receive unsolicited email invites from marketing firms and self-described ‘freelance writers’ mewling and begging to write guest posts on my blawg. Strangely, none of these earnest requests are from lawyers, law students or anyone remotely interested in law.

Go figure.

Ken White at Popehat, a ‘ shining beacon on the hill’ for First Amendment issues affecting the Blawgosphere, regularly exposes the mediocrity and absurdity of spam comments. In his recent post, Why, I Do Believe I Have Been Subjected To A Note Of Sarcasm!, Ken diplomatically responds to a Canadian law firm that chose to delegate its advertising and marketing to an SEO marketing firm. In an email, Ken writes, in part:

“…

I recently received comment spam promoting your firm at my site. The comment said: [deleted out of misplaced sense of mercy so you won't Google it.] Yes, it was like that in the original.

Would you like to make any comment before I write about this, as I have written about other comment spammers? (See, e.g., http://www.popehat.com/2011/10/10/too-seldom-is-the-question-asked-who-are-be-defensing-our-criminals/)

In particular, I would like a comment on (1) whether anyone with [Canuk, Snowy & Censorious LLP] authorized this comment spam campaign, and (2) if not, the identity of the marketing firm that conducted it on your behalf.

Thanks,

Etc.

The law firm’s reply is typically Canadian in its politeness and contrition, if not subtlety. However, the fact that this was “the second complaint we have received” and that the firm “will proceed to terminate their services”, begs the question (Edit: yeah, yeah, not correct in the philosophical or grammatical sense) why they hired a crappy SEO marketing firm in the first place.

This brings me to another example of the Turkewitz-Bennett Law Marketing Axiom:

Outsource Your Marketing, Outsource Your Ethics and Reputation.

In a classic example of ghostblawging, I tweeted about a Toronto criminal defence law firm that decided to just mail it in:

You’ll notice Ken @Popehat’s reply that the law firm in question is the same one he wrote about in his post above; although in Ken’s case, they were linking to their GUN LAWYERS page.

 This law firm’s website is terrible and this particular flawg post about Attempted Murder is generic, poorly written, self-promotional dreck. Anyone with two fingers could Google “Attempted Murder” and “Canada” and find the same information. It would not be noteworthy, except for the fine-print at the bottom of the website (original brown background changed to black to improve legibility):

Now THAT is an “attempted murder” of one’s reputation, if there ever was one.

My Twitter compatriot and fellow blawger, George Wallace sums it up best:

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3 Responses to “How To Murder Your Professional Reputation Online”

  1. thomasjeffersonstarship Says:

    > begs the question why they hired a crappy SEO marketing firm in the first place.

    You’re using that phrase incorrectly.

    [link removed, but you made your point, smart ass]

  2. Steve Matthews Says:

    I wish more bloggers would call out firms who do this…

    I’ve emailed more than a few firms when I’ve received spam comments on my own blogs. Especially if I know the firm well, or have a friend that works there. But even then, the only response I’ve ever received is “We had no clue this was going on. We’ll go talk with X”.

    I’d like to blame my scummy competitors; but the problem isn’t always the SEO company. Don’t get me wrong, it often is… BUT lots of lawyers have zero ethics with this stuff. They read a few SEO articles, and then want to employ every tactic they read about. Not questioning anything. Just because you read something online, doesn’t make it good or ethical.

    The biggest problem I see is lawyer laziness. They want great search placement, but are completely unwilling to write or publish anything. And honestly, when that’s the case – zero investment, zero online participation – it’s a very slippery slope into spam.

    It’s too easy to shift the blame to the SEO companies here. The buck has to stop with Lawyers. It’s their business — they decide who to hire, and they write the cheques.

    And don’t dismiss the idea that lazy lawyers naturally hook-up with lazy SEO’s. It tends to work that way.

  3. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    It’s websites and blawgs like these that give both lawyers and legitimate law marketers a bad name.

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