For the uninitiated, the Streisand Effect is a phrase coined by Techdirt blogger Mike Masnick. It refers to a situation that arose when Barbara Streisand sued a photographer who was shooting the California coastline. He happened to shoot her home, and she felt this was an invasion of her privacy. However, once news of the lawsuit hit, the photo of her home got much more attention.
I’ve talked about the hotel in England that regularly trashes it’s guests on TripAdvisor.com, and there is the story of the towing company in Michigan that is suing a college student for $750,000. These two businesses, in an effort to protect their reputations, actually brought more negative attention on themselves. Rather than address customer concerns, they brought attention to the complaints. In the internet age, businesses must never forget that even a small matter can blow up in very short order.
The moral of the story? Don’t sue or try to intimidate in any way people who say negative things about your business. Even if you win, you’ll lose. Releasing a reasoned and matter-of-fact response, while offering to help rectify the situation, will help you diffuse the criticism. Plus, you’ll gain the reputation of a business that takes care of it’s customers. That’s a win for everyone!