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Is an Apology Really Best for Bill O'Reilly's Reputation?

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Another month, another news reporter scandal. This time, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News is in the crossfire due to allegations of truth stretching and unusual reporting. Now, people are wondering what he should do to answer questions, overcome challenges and keep his reputation intact.

When this happened to Brian Williams, I wrote up a little column containing tidbits of advice I thought he might follow to get back on track (you can read that piece right here). In that column, I suggested that an accurate apology full of sincerity should be Job 1 for Williams.

A recent Media Matters survey suggests that some 31 percent of people think O'Reilly should do the same, if he is (indeed) guilty of stretching the truth about his past.

But is that the right approach for this news anchor? I'm not so sure.

Why Not Apologize?

I think of an apology as a long-game strategy. A person who apologizes for a major gaffe is setting the scene for a recovery that might be months or even years away. The apology doesn't really repair the damage as much as signal to the world that the person who has made the gaffe is really sorry and will work harder in the future. Then, that person heads off into the sunset to do the hard work of regaining trust.

This is the William's model. While his apology fell flat at the time (partly because it didn't contain enough of a real sense of regret), he followed up that statement by taking a leave of absence (and a suspension), and he really hasn't been seen since. He could be planning to come back when that suspension is over with a whole new work ethos. His apology sets the stage for that comeback.

But O'Reilly might not need to go away and then come back. Researchers suggest that his ratings are higher now than they have ever been, particularly among people in his network's key demographic. That seems to suggest that people are already inclined to forgive him, whether he makes any kind of statement about the issue or not. They're not abandoning him in a real sense, so he may not need to pacify them with an apology.

Also, it's important to remember that O'Reilly's core fans like him to be a little bit feisty. They're accustomed to watching him speak off the cuff about current events, and they're used to watching him mix the personal and the professional. They might feel like they know him on a personal level, and they might root for his success because he seems like a friend.

To loyal viewers like this, an attack in Mother Jones isn't a threat to O'Reilly's credibility. It's an example of the sorts of issues O'Reilly has been hinting at for years. If he apologizes, that could anger some viewers who don't want liberal reports to gain traction. An apology would be a betrayal.

What to Do Instead?

When it comes to reputation management, knowing your audience is absolutely vital. And O'Reilly seems to know his audience quite well. However, he still has a reputation problem to get over. There's damage done, and work to do. Here are three things I think he could do right now to make his situation better.

1. Don't threaten people.

In the immediate aftermath of the Mother Jones report, O'Reilly made some rash statements about the reporter, and in one notorious instance, he made what sounded a little like a threat. That's never a smart idea.

When it comes to reputation problems, it's ideal to make the issue die down as fast as possible. A threat is news, and it keeps the story alive. O'Reilly should look for ways to keep his temper under control, speaking only about his feelings and his work, without stooping to threaten others.

2. Find a way to discuss the issue.

If no apology is needed, O'Reilly could simply discuss how the issue came about. He might sit down for an informal Q&A with his co-hosts and outline what he was thinking about when he discussed or wrote about foreign conflicts. He might outline his credentials and service to his country, and discuss how his need to be heard might have made him exaggerate a few things. He might just work to explain and minimize, rather than apologize, and that could put the issue to rest.

3. Give back to wounded parties.

Like Williams, O'Reilly's statements seem most offensive to people who have served in the military or who have seen action in an overseas conflict. By claiming he did things he did not, he seems to disrespect the contributions of people who did make huge sacrifices for home and country.

O'Reilly should find a way to give back to these communities directly, either by volunteering time or money. There's no need to do a big PR campaign that shouts his contributions from the mountaintops, but his presence or his money could spark an underground PR campaign that could really help. People who benefit might speak up about it, and organizations might do the same.

This kind of work could help to imply that O'Reilly really cares about the people he's harmed, and that could remove the taint of anger people have about this issue.

When to Start

The sooner that O'Reilly starts on this reputation campaign, the better. Even now, reporters are looking for more examples of things he said that aren't quite true, and the more he responds to those accusations with threats, the worse it might get. By putting this plan in place now, he could get the recovery that, up to now, he's only dreamed of.


Did I miss any steps? Please share them in the comments section. 

Reviewed by author: Ashley Adams

4 Ways Your Small Business Can Compete With the Big Guns—and Grow

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Small business owners can often feel like they are at a disadvantage when they have to go head-to-head with major corporations in order to find business. However, a small business owner can compete.

After all, most of those big corporations began as small businesses themselves.

1. Focus on relationships, not on transactions.

The lifetime value of your customer will matter far more than any individual transaction will. So your primary focus should always be on treating that customer well—so well, in fact, that he or she will want to come back to you again and again.

As a small business owner you are actually at an advantage here. You’re still small enough to know all of your customers by name, and to give the kind of personalized service that many people long for. People like doing business with people, and you’ve got the time and opportunity to show your human side.

2. Be memorable.

There is a lot of noise out there. Invest time and energy into distinguishing yourself. Create a striking, memorable brand. Make sure your offering stands out from the crowd. Don’t launch anything until you’ve got at least some idea of how you’re going to do that. 

3. Stay away from investors, and stay out of debt.

I’ll say this up front. There are plenty of people who are going to disagree with me here.
However, investors become your new bosses quickly. They want to grow your company all right—grow it fast, so they can sell it. Obtaining an investor is usually not the best way to turn your small business into a big business empire, at least, not if you’re trying to transform your hard work into a legacy.

Banks aren’t much better, and servicing debt has a habit of sucking away your profits.
Allow your sales to finance your business growth instead. Make sure you’re always putting something aside to use on behalf of your business growth so that you can continue to expand.

4. Be religious about developing and executing a marketing plan.

Business plans are like battle plans. They don’t survive your first contact with the enemy. Marketing plans, however, are sheer gold. 

Marketing should be the first task you tackle at the beginning of each day, since marketing is the fuel that will drive your business to greater heights of success. If you make it your priority then you won’t be a “small” business for very long!

Reviewed by author: Ashley Adams

How mugshot removal services works?

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Just how damning is a mugshot, anyway? Ask the so-called "hot felon" who was arrested in July of 2014. This man is attractive, and he looked a little threatening in his mugshot. Soon, the whole world had him labeled as a thug. Even though, as the New York Times pointed out, this man was a father and a worker and a devoted husband, all the world could see were his crimes and his guilt.

Unfortunately, that's common. And, stories like this should prompt you to get serious about mugshot removal, just as soon as you're arrested.

The Mugshot Website Business

There are literally hundreds of mugshot websites crowding the internet right now. Each of these sites might look a little different, but they all tend to work in the same way.

If you're arrested and photographed as part of that arrest, your mugshot will pop up in an online database, along with your name and a few other details about you and your supposed crime. Mugshot websites use crawlers to find that information and copy it.

That scraped information is then put on the mugshot website, and it's supported by all sorts of code that makes these sites irresistible to search engines like Google. These SEO techniques can push mugshot websites to the top of the results page when people search for your name, even if you're trying to generate other content that has more value.

Here's an example of how powerful SEO can be. In a Search Engine Land analysis, websites with a great deal of SEO coding managed to grab the top spot on searches for the term "Nordstrom coupons," even if those sites contained content that had nothing to do with that phrase. Even if the site had typographic or grammar errors, and even if the site wasn't liked by a lot of people, it held the top spot due to crafty coding. And that spot was held tight, no matter what other sites did.

Mugshot websites that use these techniques are just hard to outrank, and even Google hasn't been able to change things. In 2013, for example, the New York Times ran an analysis of the mugshot website industry, and Google claimed to respond by devaluing mugshots in search results. But just months later, all of those gains started to slide away. And now? Mugshots are back on top again. 

Photos are, in part, fueling that rise. Consider this example.



This man was arrested in Oregon, and his mugshot information is the third hit on my Google search result for his name. But check out the little cluster of photos. You'll see that at least one is a mugshot, and if I expand that and look at only images, a ton are mugshots.



That means Google is associating his name with mugshots. What could that be doing to his reputation?

State-By-State Responses
Some legislators have drafted specific legislation that protects people who have been arrested. Georgia has one of the strongest laws out there, as newspapers suggest that the laws in this state specifically prohibit the use of mugshots for a commercial enterprise. That means sites can't scrape Georgia mugshots and ask people for money in order to remove the photos. That's a great deal of protection for Georgia citizens.

But most states have softer laws. In Oregon, for example, the legislature requires mugshot websites to remove images of people who were somehow exonerated for their crimes. In other words, if you were arrested in Oregon and were later proven not guilty, or you went through another legal process to clear your name, the mugshot website must take your photo down.

It all sounds good, but there are a few problems here:
  1. Many people actually are guilty when they're arrested. Sure, your crime might be small. But if you did the deed and you got arrested, you wouldn't be protected.
  2. The law doesn't apply in all states.
  3. You must notify the website administrator to take advantage, and many mugshot websites don't have published contact information.
  4. If you do manage to make contact, the site administrators typically have 30 days to comply with the order, which is an eternity of embarrassment.

So while legislators have tried to work on this issue, it would be silly to lean on the laws to curb a mugshot website problems. Clearly, there's a lot at stake and the laws can't fix the issue in a hurry.

How Mugshot Removal Services Work

Mugshot removal companies take a two-prong approach. First off, they spend a significant amount of time on research. They know who owns the mugshot websites in question, and they know how to contact those website owners. That means they can get in touch with a web master in a hurry, and prompt a change quickly.

Often, that change involves another tricky SEO technique: A robots.txt command. In essence, this piece of code works a little like a cloak of invisibility.

Search engines like Google use crawlers to scoot over the web and take notes about what's new and what's gone. A robots.txt command blocks the crawlers from accessing a specific page. So when the crawlers come back, the page is simply hidden and missing.

Google doesn't disclose how often it crawls a site, but experts suggest that sites with a great deal of traffic (like mugshot websites do) get crawled frequently. That means a robots.txt command could cure a mugshot problem in days or even hours. It's just that fast. All that's required is for a mugshot removal provider to contact a mugshot site administrator, request a robots.txt amendment and presto! Problem solved.


At InternetReputation.com, we've been using techniques just like this for years. And as of January 2015, we've helped more than 17,000 clients overcome their mugshot issues. Would you like to be next? Just contact us, and we'll tell you more. 

Reviewed by author: Ashley Adams

 

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