Steve Schmadeke described in the Chicago Tribune how Margolis created a book about a comic superhero called “Excuseman.” He even donned a cape to look like Excuseman, as he claimed to get “those who mess up to ‘fess up’.” His publicity plan included online videos featuring his character, and he seemed to be building something that people would remember. However, he ended up losing everything when he was indicted for stealing over one million dollars from his clients.
At least his situation isn’t totally useless, because his downfall provides business owners with these three publicity takeaways:
1 – Promote a respectable hobby. Margolis’ character was quite silly, and it made him look much worse when he was charged with 36 felony counts. Schmadeke says Margolis wants to be a screenwriter, and even if he does succeed at that new profession, people will see negative stories connected with his name. Business owners should get involved in projects that enhance their professional reputation rather than detract from it.
2 – Harmful actions will catch up with you. What Margolis did was illegal, and an online search for his name results in very few positive stories. However, you don’t have to be indicted to get bad publicity online. For instance, if your clients are dissatisfied, they can post bad reviews on the Internet. Then an online search for your name will bring those reviews to the top of the search results.
3 – Be proactive. To prevent potentially bad reviews from prominently showing up, set up social media accounts and consider a monitoring tool (Social Mention is free). Make sure your website is updated, and post consistently to your blog. You can also claim your business on Google maps. In addition to posting your own articles or helpful links on your personal LinkedIn account, create business LinkedIn and Facebook pages as well. It is also beneficial to position yourself as an expert by contributing to trade publications (which are usually posted online) or participating in seminars and workshops (your name will probably show up online for those, too).
Overall, business owners should think before they act, and be aware of how they are affecting people around them because anything about you can be posted online.