An interesting piece of spam popped into my inbox over the weekend. It was particularly ineffective because there was no link to click through to (stupid is as stupid does), but still the subject caught my eye because it was something I've not heard anyone talk about but was surely a natural technological solution to what has become, for many, a headache in the interweb space - namely the Social Media catalysed phenomena that is amplified negative brand reach.
The email was as follows:
"I’ll bet those negative remarks are coming from angry ex-employees, crazy customers or maybe even your competition. But they’re still hurting your sales and reputation, aren’t they? My company can “erase” those negative reviews and replace them with positive ones. And it’s all totally legal and legitimate, even if our approach is a little high-tech. Let me tell you about our “Reputation Protection” program with no charge, no obligation. Just click here."
Now I have no idea whether "Derek Johnson" has any such capability. I also know that when damage is done (perceived or actual) you'll obviously be sharing this with your networks who will, at first or even second level of seperation, give your tale a high credibility rating. But I also know that the internet and technology gives us an ability to partake in networks that are so far beyond our human capability to maintain effectively that anything fed to us by anyone other than our most trusted of contacts will surely increasingly be taken either with a handful of salt or else lapped up like a "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" story spewed out from a tabloid.
So why wouldn't there be some smart technical teams out there somewhere working out ways to run computer based strategies to out "like" what you don't - and vice-versa?
It, of course, doesn't mean that you can start reverting to flogging your staff and "doing a Ratner" as far as your customers are concerned - but I would wager that if someone can get this humanised (and more effectively than some humans can manage themselves - e.g. Sarah Palin) it won't be long before this starts creeping into larger companies black ops PR toolkit. Hell - perhaps it's already there for all we know! :-|