Not a Good Day in Nashville

Some people just don’t get public relations.

Some people just don’t get how business models are supposed to work.

Usually, when you order a service, you pay after the service is rendered. You might make a deposit but you usually don’t pay for everything. Unfortunately, in the world of professional head hunters, there is a breed that doesn’t follow that philosophy.

Katherine Coble ran across one of those companies while her husband was looking for work. She related the information on her blog. The company got miffed and demanded she take down the posts. That went back and forth and now the company suited for libel.

That’s when the shit it the fan.

For all his faults, one thing Instapundit Glenn Renyolds is not, it is nice to people who strong arm bloggers. And he picked up the story. And some other people picked up the story.

At that point a fairly unknown blog and a fairly unknown company just got really well known. Just not in a particularly good light. It is absolutely irrelevant whether Ms Coble takes down the blog entries now. Even the local televison station WKRN is covering the story. From BillHobbs.com,

WKRN’s Brittney Gilbert reports on the saga of JL Kirk Associates, a critical blogger, and a lawsuit threat that backfired big time. Also, “S-Town Mike” at Enclave has more on JL Kirk Associates’ new-found online fame.

And it’s not good fame: the story, and the controversy over JL Kirk Associates threatening to sue Coble for writing critically of the company on her blog has surfaced other bloggers with similar experiences and first-hand criticisms of the company. Even worse, people who before this week had never heard of JL Kirk Associates now only have a bad impression of the company. People like Billy Hollis at QandO, who wrote:

I don’t know squat about JL Kirk, or about their law firm King & Ballow. But I can say with some confidence that neither of them has a clue just how information is spread in the world today.

For many firms in the service industry, their reputation is the single most important asset they have. And how do most modern people assess reputation? By Internet searching, primarily Google. You can literally destroy your own company overnight by doing something really stupid, if the results of that stupidity will be one of the first things that show up on Google when a search of your company name is done. It looks like JL Kirk has just done this.

So. What was a marginally bad situation has turned into a public relations melt-down.

Despite the treat of internet character assassination, this does not look like that kind of situation. The company screwed up and will have to change it’s name (again). It will continue to do the same thing under a different cover.

This company won’t learn. But then again this kind of bad publicitiy isn’t only limited to headhunters.

But this will put a dent in the corporate profits for the year. No?

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