Managing your online rep

The new reality is that if you have a run-in with a less than scrupulous supplier or client, your company could be marred by a barrage of negative ratings and comments on the Internet.

The reputation management industry is now very significant and, in many instances, the work they do can assist in damage recovery after a simple mistake. 

I heard of a company that bought an aircraft in the U.S. It was a perfectly normal transaction from a commercial and aviation perspective.

A few years after the purchase, a journalist discovered that the airplane had been used for drug runs across the border (or something equally damaging).

The aircraft registration was tied to the new owners and before you know, it they had an online reputation problem. It was a costly problem that took years to truly mitigate.

The bad thing about damage online is it cannot be hidden. Unless your name is Teflon Trump and nothing sticks, then you had better be prepared to spend some money for a consultant to assist in improving your online reputation. 

For years, we have struggled with true and honest evaluations of products or services. Various businesses set themselves up to give unbiased opinions.

In the U.K., we had the WHICH Consumer Guide that was the “go to” source for honest reviews of products. On the Internet, CNET was a good resource initially.

Then came the Internet. Review sites proposed they would show real world reviews of products and services by actual consumers.

It was great for the first while until less scrupulous individuals who participate in “black hat SEO” tactics realized they could build a list of positive reviews by paying people or exchanging services in a similar manner.

Hence, it is difficult to know who to trust. 

The advancement of the public reviews was the development of algorithms that were created by propeller heads who, in fact, were working for their employers.

So sites like Yelp would dish out garbage reviews until you advertised with them and, bingo, the algorithm changes and you get a higher rating.

In all, it naturally proves complicated to manage your reputation online if people are free to write whatever they want about your service or company. 

Perhaps the best thing is to find a friend who recently purchased a product or service and ask them what they thought. The balance of information may be swayed by greed or vengeance.


The allure of horsepower

As a young boy in England, I remember joining my father at motor-bike scrambles, speedway events, trials riding competitions, stock cars and even Formula 1.

At almost all the events, the noise levels were thrilling, the smell of race gas became an adrenaline buzz and it didn’t take much to get a young kid as high as a kite on the thought of the racing or competition that was about to unfold. 

Perhaps times have changed a little with the introduction of electric car racing, which I would find about as exciting as watching a Cricket test match. Actually, I am not sure it would be as exciting as cricket. 

Listening to silent cars driving around a circuit with nothing but the smell and noise of diesel generators working away in the service area is not my idea of a fun day out. 

So it is no surprise that the dream lives on here in Geneva at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show.

I am here with Dutch manufacturer PAL-V, which is delivering the world’s first flying car next year. We have our second production model on display, which is the limited edition version of the PAL-V Liberty. 

However, in the aftermath of talking all day to crowds of people touring the halls demonstrates that the love of the internal combustion engine and the power it produces together with the sound is still abundant. 

Advances in technology are obvious and perhaps, eventually we will be looking at a line up of drearily silent e-Cars at the show but not yet.

People are scrambling to outdo the completion with the addition of more raw horsepower. The price of gasoline probably does not phase the affluent purchaser because the sticker price on most of the vehicles is north of $1 million. 

Most people are only here to look, but business is done in substantial numbers and certainly our company, PAL-V has been writing up orders for clients from around the world. 

Geneva is a crazy place this time of year and the atmosphere while perhaps described as “electric” is definitely driven by an historic passion for the internal combustion engine

Vets dissed by government

Veteran Affairs is the bottom of the heap

What is it about the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio that it seems to end up at bottom of the ministerial heap?

The recent news of the former Attorney General’s testimony to a parliamentary committee was framed in the context of her being “demoted” to the position of minister of Veterans’ Affairs after pushing back against the PMO, PM and Privy Council’s office.

Should it not be one of the portfolios that we are most proud of? Despite the fact it appears to be underfunded on most occasions and a problematic delivery service for many, we  should make it a priority.

In a month, we will remember Vimy Ridge, a pivotal battle in the First World War, and, some would argue, a pivotal time for Canada. The veterans from that campaign are no longer here to communicate the horrors of the battle, but we remember them on Vimy Ridge Day. 

We are, however, pre-disposed to forget the importance of the contribution of not just those veterans, but veterans from the present day.

These are people who made a commitment to protect our country and our freedom, people who put their lives in harm’s way so that we may be able to sleep at night. 

So in the context of politics, why the heck is it considered a demotion to get the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio?

Enough of this BS. Stop talking about it in the media that way,. The government needs to make it a priority and let's start giving some respect to the people who truly served this country.

The biggest privilege a politician should have is to be the minister of Veterans’ Affairs.

Banff is on a lake?

With all the environmental pressures in today’s corporate world, it is difficult to develop tourism assets such as a ski hill, for instance.

Dubai has created a way to extend its waterfront by pushing fill in to the ocean and creating new islands or peninsulas. They are so good at it they can even create pretty shaped islands. 

It was with some scepticism that I read last week’s article in several news outlets stating that Kelowna and indeed Osoyoos were ranked among the top lakefront resorts in Canada.

They were alongside some pretty lofty competition, such as Niagara on the Lake and Banff. 

Wait a minute,. Banff?

I guess Banff tourism officials may have visited Dubai and decided it was not a bad idea to create some custom islands in the Bow River, or perhaps, even consider creating a dam on the Bow River.

Perhaps the Bow Valley has changed since I had lived there 17 years ago. Indeed, it must have.


I started to consider how it was even possible in a national park to create lakefront property let alone turn a mountain town into an award-winning Canadian lakefront resort town.

Then, it dawned on me that two viable options existed:

  • Dredge the Vermilion Lakes, which might in turn restore some natural habitat for an almost extinct rare toad or such like. After all, Vermilion Lakes as I recall were close enough to Banff to qualify it as a lakefront resort town. 
  • Remove the dam at Lake Minnetonka, in turn restoring the valley to its former natural glory, flood the Bow River and benefit from some form of newly created lake in the Banff townsite. 

I have done my research and both options were not pursued. 

Instead,I went to Trip Advisor directly and looked at the award in detail. 

As it turns out, there is a small geographic error in the selection. Banff is a lakefront community award winner, yet conveniently keeps its lake in Lake Louise. 

If you have not been there, Lake Louise is, in fact, a separate town (and perhaps justifiably the winner) separated by a mere 57 kilometres.

According to the judging criteria, this may mean that Merritt, our cousins to the west, could be nominated as Canada’s true lakefront resort community by virtue of the fact that it is not really very far away from Nicola Lake, just a short car drive really.

Kind of silly to leave it in the awards article wasn’t it. I suppose the criteria was a little loose, but it is also extremely misleading for the world’s largest travel advisory site to include it as a lakefront resort town.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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