The BBB & Reputation Responsibility

Erik Bernstein crisis management, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, online reputation management, public relations, reputation management, social media Leave a Comment

The health of your reputation relies on you

The notorious Los Angeles chapter of the Better Business Bureau has been shut down by its national parent organization. The move, which many L.A. business owners could have told you is long overdue, came as a result of the chapter’s, “pay for ratings” practices being exposed in an ABC News report.

Here are more details, from an LA Times article by Ricardo Lopez:

In 2010, a group of Los Angeles business owners that had been critical of the BBB conducted a sting operation by paying dues for fake companies, including one named after the Palestinian organization, Hamas, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist group.

The fake businesses were all accredited and given ratings, according to the ABC News report. Hamas received an A-minus rating.

In fact, a shadow of doubt has been cast across many major review/rating websites, Yelp being perhaps the most well-known currently facing scrutiny in the court of public opinion.

How can you protect and promote your organization’s reputation, without relying on potentially-shady websites?

Create your own web presence

Ultimately, handling your reputation is your own responsibility. Establish an active website and blog where customers are encouraged to share their experiences, and then make them very much visible to visitors. Use social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to share content from, and drive traffic to, your sites, and of course it’s a good idea to share positive reviews there as well.

What about negative reviews?

The knee-jerk reaction of many is to delete negative reviews, especially from a space they control. Don’t do it! At some point people will notice, and when they do all of those positive reviews immediately lose their credibility. Instead, use them as an opportunity to display your commitment to providing the best service possible. Publicly respond and say exactly what you’re going to do to fix the issue, then encourage the (hopefully formerly-) upset poster to write an updated review.

It’s all crisis management

Crisis management is about far more than putting out the blazing fires that pop up from time to time. In daily operations it’s all about applying that consistent effort and care to meet the expectations of stakeholders while safeguarding and feeding that most valuable asset – your reputation.

The BCM Blogging Team

[Editorial Postscript from Jonathan Bernstein:  I have represented a number of clients who were the victims of similar behavior by Better Business Bureau chapters around the country.  Too many people are not aware that the BBB is NOT a governmental entity and not held to any standards other than its own – which have been poorly policed in the past.  I am hoping that the revocation of the L.A.-area BBB’s permit to operate as such foreshadows more action against other unethical chapters.]

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