GOTCHA! POST A NEGATIVE REVIEW AND GET SUED!

 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

A developing legal and ethical issue in emerging media is whether a business has the right to sue and win in court against a consumer who received what they believe was poor service or a bad product and posted a negative review.

Simply do a Google search with this or a similar phrase and many stories immediately pop up: “businesses sue over negative social media posts.”

“One consumer who was angry over what she thought was poor work on her home logged onto Yelp and posted negative reviews about the firm that did the work, including claims that some of her jewelry was missing.  The contractor filed a $750,000 Internet defamation lawsuit against the consumer saying the postings on Yelp and Angie’s list were false the court for a preliminary injunction to keep her from writing similar reviews.” (outsidethebeltway.com 2014)

“Lawyers say it is one of a growing number of defamation lawsuits over online reviews on sites such as yelp, Angie’s list and Trip-Advisor and over Internet postings in general. They say the freewheeling and acerbic world of web speech is colliding with the ever-growing importance of online reputations for businesses, doctors, restaurants, even teachers. No one keeps track of how many suits are filed over online reviews, and lawyers say the numbers are still small but are getting larger.” (outsidethebeltway.com 2014)

In another case, “Hotel Quebec sued a former guest for $95,000. The reason? The guest wrote a negative review on TripAdvisor exposing the bed bugs in his room and refused to remove the review.”

“Lawyers say such cases are a cautionary tale for a new era: those who feel targeted by defamation on the web are more likely to file suit, and judges and juries are more likely to take such claims seriously than in years past, raising the legal stakes over vitriolic reviews, nasty blog comments and Facebook feuds.” (outsidethebeltway.com 2014)

the following analysis is from (blankrome.com 2014)many dentists, wedding photographers, moving companies, locksmiths and online retailers have each tried to limit negative online customer reviews via nondisparagement clauses in their service agreements.”

Traditionally found in negotiated settlement or employee severance agreements, nondisparagement (or “no review”) clauses are now making their way into non-negotiated service contracts and the oft-ignored terms and conditions of online retailers. So the question becomes: are nondisparagement clauses the wave of the future, or simply the next battleground in the war for online consumer rights?

In its simplest form, a nondisparagement clause seeks to prevent a customer or receiver of goods or services from posting negative reviews about a service provider or vendor by outlining the financial repercussions for any violation.

The impetus behind companies inserting these clauses is the popularity of review sites like Yelp.com, ripoffreport.com, dine.com, tripadvisor.com and amazon.com—coupled with the increasing number of people turning to such sites in choosing which companies to do business with. Because a poor review can be financially devastating, businesses want to prevent clients from bad-mouthing them—even if the criticism is true.

Still, the first issue regarding any non-negotiable, nondisparagement clause is whether it is enforceable. According to University of California, Los Angeles constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh in a Wall Street Journal article titled, “you ruined my wedding—and you’re suing me?” the answer, not surprisingly, is: it depends.

As a general rule, items agreed to in a contract are enforceable. But the “gotcha factor” is critical, Volokh told the wall street journal. If a reasonable consumer would be very surprised by a clause in a vendor contract or a terms of service agreement, that provision may be deemed unenforceable. “you could see some of these [nondisparagement clauses] invalidated,” Volokh said. “this will be decided on a state-by-state level.”

Consumers should be careful when reading a non-negotiable service agreement, so as to be aware of any nondisparagement or similar clauses. This is especially true when dealing with an online retailer’s terms of service—which may be separate from the specific contractual provisions.

Businesses can also take steps to ensure their reputations are protected without impugning free speech. According to one commentator, a more defensible approach is to require a consumer to take their complaint to the company before posting anything online; in exchange, the consumer receives a coupon (or other item of value). This approach would not ban comments indefinitely.

But even setting aside the legal issues, public perception of companies using nondisparagement clauses may also be worth considering. Such clauses may send the message a company does not stand behind its work, or is overly concerned with bad press. While a few negative reviews may be the cost of doing business, the overall impact will be negated by more positive reviews.

As businesses continue to take concerted steps to protect their online reputations, and consumers continue to post online, this area of law is likely to develop. The introduction of pro-consumer legislation will only quicken the pace. But until then, the battle for online consumer rights carries on.(blankrome.com 2014)

 

Now will you believe me? For marketers—It’s all about the content!

I’ve said this many times before and I will say it again: If you are in any facet of marketing, It’s All About the Content! 

It’s about the stories you tell on Facebook, in your newsletters, on your websites, in your paid commercials, and in the videos you shoot.

NEW: Now from TechFlash comes this  development:

“Analysts are expecting Amazon.com Inc. to begin producing its own original television programs soon.”

Fortune reports that Amazon’s television programming unit is headed by a TV production veteran in Los Angeles who previously worked at the Comedy Centralnetwork. The story quotes analysts who believe that Amazon, which now is publishing its own books, would be smart to begin producing its own TV shows.

There has been previous speculation about Amazon’s possible move into TV production. Amazon formed Amazon Studios in 2010, soliciting screenplays from writers at the time.

Coca-Cola Campaign Gives Us Hope in People!

There’s a wonderful Coca-Cola campaign that gives us reasons to still believe in people and a better world! It’s the Rivalry Wallet campaign. 

The story goes like this: A wallet is put on the floor in Portugal’s Benfica Soccer club MegaStore, the wallet has a rival club’s ticket inside and it’s just days before a big match. What would you do?

Amazingly 95% of the people returned the wallet. They were given a ticket to the game and were honored on the big jumbo tron. 

Watch the video, you’ll enjoy it! And remember that sometimes the most effective marketing can happen through great storytelling.



If You Market: Content is King!

Here’s an important message for you: If you are in the public relations, marketing or advertising business at a company or organization, you need to be in the content-generation business.

People are tired of traditional ads. If they have TiVo or DVR’s, they are skipping through the ads. If you are buying print, broadcast or Internet ads ask yourself this: Is my ad truly remarkable? That is, will your ad truly get people to change their behavior? Sure if they are ordering something, but short of an online retail purchase, most ads are just that to consumers: An Advertisement.

If you really want to change behavior, change how you do things. YOU need to be in the content generation business. People read interesting stories. If you start an interesting and relevant story in an email newsletter or on Facebook and link the rest to your website, they will click through as long as it is interesting and relevant.

Shoot interesting pictures your stakeholders care about. Shoot interesting videos — especially “How To..” videos your stakeholders care about. Give your stakeholders interesting and relevant tips and information THEY care about.

It’s not about the tools, it’s about how you use them. And if you are interesting and relevant, they will come.

Yes You Can Buy America!

It’s True. In America you can buy a piece of almost anything these days as cities and schools look for new sources of revenue: the side of a bus, the walls of a high school gym, construction scaffolding, the bottom of a high school swimming pool, and yes…even signage at a parking lot.

As one person put it: You can’t fight city hall but you may be able to buy and ad on it!

Proponents say it’s good visibility. Opponents say it’s no place for junk food advertising.

Read the story here.

This Is What People Want Right Now!

When it comes to marketing and advertising, this is what people want right now. Build your themes around these, and they will resonate with your customers:

  • People want hope.
  • People want a sense of community and connection. Help them do that.
  • People will get behind a cause if they feel they can truly make a difference.
  • People want to make a difference for one thing, not generalities. (Example: They are more likely to donate for something specific vs. an organization).
  • They are open to bridging class divides (see the films that are popular right now).
  • They are open to escape.
  • They are open to parallels to the depression era and what was popular then.

It’s All About the Experience in Marketing!

Gord Hotchkiss has some smart things to say when it comes to what we pay attention to and why. We all know we are…as he says…”assaulted” by thousands of bits of information a day. So how do you break through so your message truly registers with your target? It’s important to understand how the human brain works and what we, as humans, crave. For advertising to be effective, it has to compel us to pay attention and divert us from doing whatever we were doing. That’s a tall order. What works? Emotion. Emotion is powerful. When you connect with emotion, whether it’s in 30-seconds, 60-seconds, or a story—it’s powerful. It engages people.

There’s new research by ARF (The Advertising Research Foundation) showing just how powerful emotional engagement is and the power of “experiential marketing.” I urge you to read this. Digest this. And understand how to implement the findings.