Recently I saw a Facebook post criticising Dils Funeral Services. A resident near the North Shore Memorial Park posted video of the Dils crematorium facility belching clouds of black smoke into the air, asking the question, “How are Dils allowed to do this?”

The post naturally attracted outrage from several residents, but Stephen Dil was quick to online respond with, “On behalf of the company I want to apologize (sic) for the smoke. We had a fault with our cremator this afternoon, which meant it didn’t operate correctly. The smoke lasted about 5 – 10 minutes. We have notified the Authorities (sic) and everything is back to normal. Again, we are really sorry this has happened.”

Residents responded graciously and thanked Stephen Dil for his rapid response. One even posted, “Thank you so much Stephen Dil for all your family does in the community (love hearts).”

Accidents happen. People know that. Stephen Dil’s response was swift and appropriate and a online copybook handling of a situation that could have escalated.

Sometimes businesses attract negative media or social media criticism whether fairly or unfairly, but, if the company does not already have a digital footprint rich in content, it’s the negative stuff that rises to the surface.

For example, if a business is not creating positive content on their blog, or guest blogs, in the mainstream media, across social media channels like Facebook and YouTube or on LinkedIn, they are effectively surrendering control of their digital footprint.

They not only leave a vacuum waiting to be filled by somebody else, but the chances of it being negative content are disproportionately high. People are not motivated to talk about your online business unless you’ve done something wrong – nobody talks about the good stuff, just the bad stuff, and if your digital footprint is a blank canvas then it’s likely that the negative stuff will dominate your online profile.

Flying below the radar is not safe business practise in 2019.

Whether your business has a relatively blank canvas in terms of your digital footprint, or you already have negative stuff dominating the online search results for your name, business or brand, here’s three tips on how to beat the problem.

1. Publish or be damned

Establish a strong presence with current, relevant content across all possible channels.

Content creates a rich presence for your business and gives you control of your digital footprint because you control the content of the message. The more content you create and the longer it lives online, the better. The reason is that any new, negative content posted by third parties will struggle to get heard above what already exists.

Even reviews. There is a ratio of good to bad reviews. Have enough good reviews and people will overlook the negative reviews.

2. Aim for high authority websites

Google gives every website an authority rating. The higher the website’s domain authority rating, the higher the website will appear in the search engine rankings. Media websites have a higher domain authority than your average business website. For example, the New Zealand Herald’s domain authority is 91, is 92, compared to Fonterra which is on 57 (still high by New Zealand standards) and your average small business website which will most likely be under 20.

Logic says if you publish content, mentioning keywords about your name, brand or company, on high authority websites you will feature more prominently in rankings compared to your competitors. The same can be said, however, about negative publicity. If a news media outlet publishes negative content about you, then that negative article is going to be very prominent indeed.

The best way to prepare against this is to publish frequently on websites with high domain authority.

3. Put education ahead of promotion

Content that adds value with quality education not only achieves greater engagement, it is more likely to be published by high domain authority websites; it’s also more likely to be shared.

Content that is purely promotion will get less traction because people don’t like to be sold to. They are also more interested in their problems, needs and questions than they are about you. Education lets you address those problems, needs and questions in a friendly, helpful way that can only benefit you in the long run.

Don’t leave a vacuum to fill. Don’t leave your online reputation in the hands of others. Publish now, publish frequently.


Colin Kennedy – Director of Strategy and Content

M: +64 27 245 6060