What to Do When You’re the Target of an Anti-Employer Website

June 29, 2010 by  Filed under: Management 

Just about everything is available on the Internet these days–including web sites that criticize companies, promote litigation against employers, or support union organization attempts. So what should you do when an anti-employer web site is targeting your company?

First, don’t panic. There is a natural tendency to overreact to the situation and believe such a web site will be more problematic than it actually is. Stop and assess the situation calmly.

Take a thorough tour of the site. Study the information presented; consider how it’s presented; check to see what other sites are linked to this site; and try to identify the individual or organization behind the site. For example, the site may be sponsored by a union that is trying to organize your workers. It may be the work of a consumer or environmental group that doesn’t like something your company is doing. Or it may be the product of a disgruntled employee (either former or current) trying to incite further discontent.

Once you’ve completely examined the site, you can make a determination of what its impact might be and how–or even if–you want to respond. You may decide that the web site is not going to affect your company either from an employee or customer perspective. And when you come to that conclusion, you might very well decide that there are better uses of your time than reacting to the website.

If you do decide some action is necessary, here are points to keep in mind:

– You don’t need to respond via the same medium. For example, if the web site is targeting your employees with anti-company messages, you can communicate with them in any number of ways, such as personal meetings (either one-on-one or groups) and correspondence (letters, newsletters, bulletin board announcements). Similarly, you can probably also reach your customer and supplier bases much more quickly and more efficiently using other communication tools.

– Be cautious about contacting the website operator. Anything you send to the website may well end up posted on that site, so don’t provide additional fuel for their position.

– Remember the First Amendment. The content of most anti-company websites is protected as free speech, unless it includes defamation, false advertising, or trademark or copyright infringement. If you think you may have a legitimate legal claim, consult an attorney before taking any action on your own.

You may be tempted to try to get the web site shut down, but that’s usually not the best idea. It indicates that you have something to hide. You’re better off dealing with the issues the site raises.

On the positive side, such sites give you a tremendous amount of information on what your adversaries are doing, what they consider to be key issues, and the arguments they are advancing. So whether or not you decide to take action, it’s a good idea to monitor such sites regularly.

Jacquelyn Lynn is the editor of Flashpoints newsletter. Flashpoints is a comprehensive information resource for business owners and managers who want to take their operation to the Flashpoint. Visit http://www.theflashpoints.com to sign up for a free subscription to Flashpoints newsletter plus an extra free gift: The Mindset of High Achievers by JK Harris and Jacquelyn Lynn.

In addition, Jacquelyn Lynn is the author of more than 20 books, including Entrepreneur’s Almanac ; Online Shopper’s Survival Guide ; Make Big Profits on eBay (with Charlene Davis); In Search of the Five-Cent Nickel (with Don Abbott); and 11 titles in Entrepreneur Media’s StartUp Guide series. Visit http://www.jacquelynlynn.com for more details.

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