opinion

The Rehabilitation of Character

Stephen Yagielowicz

As the corporatization of adult continues, some forward-looking operators are seeking to craft, refine and redefine their image; moving beyond past, perhaps “shady” practices, in an effort to withstand the scrutiny of banks, boards and boardrooms.

In today’s interactive, online and socially networked world, your actions, images and words are shared and spread far and wide at the click of a button — which could at times result in long-lasting, unexpected and unwanted repercussions for your reputation.

Indeed, there are a wide variety of online reputation management firms operating on the Internet today, ready and able to help restore your credibility; with top service plans starting at $15,000 per year — a modest investment for someone seeking a new life.

“No one asks people for job references or background information anymore, they ask Google,” states a reputation mangagement firm. “And if your name turns up news reports, legal filings, embarrassing party photos, or other questionable material, you’re likely to get passed over.”

But there is hope, even if you’ve been naughty.

The company explains that search engines have taught people to find what they want in the first three search results more than 75 percent of the time — and more importantly, 84 percent of users don’t look beyond the first page of search results — so items bumped to the second page (or lower), are “for all intents and purposes, rendered invisible.”

While the technique will not prevent a determined searcher from digging up any dirt that might be out there, burying unfavorable mentions under more positive ones is maybe all that can be done to mitigate harmful items that the posting site is unwilling to delete…

Bothering with reputation management is important, because other people will bother to search for your past. In fact, Reputation.com cites a Harris Interactive poll that reveals nearly 80 percent of U.S. adults “believe it is very important to look up information about people ... online before [interacting] with them.”

The issue doesn’t just impact people, but companies, too — as the recent heavy run of television commercials for AngiesList.com, which offers ratings and reviews across more than 550 home repair and health care categories, underscores.

Other community forums and industry message boards provide similar functions, with discussions over a company or individual’s trustworthiness; such as the increasingly frequent “does this sponsor pay?” conversations seen on adult industry oriented venues.

When managing your reputation, major considerations include what that reputation is intended to be and how effectively that perception been communicated to your customers and others. This is where a corporate mission statement can prove invaluable, as it clearly outlines the scope and philosophy of a business and what it hopes its reputation will be.

For example, MetArt recently made a public announcement of its mission statement, outlining the company’s commitment to consumers, models and the industry as a whole. The corporate missive centers on the belief that quality, honesty, innovation and social involvement are fundamental core values. Customer satisfaction and privacy, along with a commitment to provide only the very best content, is also part of the MetArt plan, which supports women’s causes, equal rights and fair trade.

“The MetArt Philosophy is our way to expressing how seriously we are dedicated to quality content, top of the line customer care, and our family of staff who contribute so much to make MetArt the very best in erotic art,” MetArt VP of Marketing, Jill Taylor, stated in a release. “Our models and photographers are not just a ‘resource’ or ‘the talent’ — they are partners and family, the face of our company.”

The MetArt Philosophy is a good read, illustrating the type of character exhibited by today’s most successful adult entertainment companies.

It is an example many should follow.

The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is another group that has been excellent about promoting its mission of keeping children out of and away from adult entertainment — setting the stage for an easy understanding of its purpose.

This is the essential element of corporate reputation management: defining the reason for a company’s existence and ensuring that this perception holds sway; despite efforts by disgruntled customers, ex-employees and other haters — or your personal stupidity — getting in the way.

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