How DM Communications became a hub for high-profile companies and individuals suffering from hostile media coverage and how a snake caught in a cot is related.
DM Communications is a brand that is well-known in the public relations and crisis management fields. The Israeli-based company, led by David Malits, works with many companies in the areas of technology, finance, blockchain and more.
Beyond the various services provided by the Agency, it is clear that a more hidden practice attracts many clients from around the world. The agency combines techniques from different fields, sometimes controversial, to clean the reputation of companies and high-profile individuals in search engines, social media, and well-known publications.
“Our love for crises management has always been here. I guess it sounds bad, but something is exciting about it, and when you succeed in producing the predefined goals, it’s well appreciated,” says the entrepreneur behind the agency, David Malits. “Our entry into the Online Reputation Management (ORM) field happened when we received a request from a client who was already in a deep media crisis to try and find a way to deal with some negative articles related to him after they were published.
We decided to combine our SEO capabilities with our PR skills, it wasn’t too sophisticated when we started, but it worked. We created positive media exposure for the client in leading media and promoted these articles with an SEO campaign. We used our connections to affect the content of the pieces that were already published to soften them. Today, we work in a much more complexed methodology, but this is undoubtedly the basis for an ORM campaign.”
Are you able to delete articles?
“This is not accurate because each case is different. Sometimes it is possible to eliminate content, but those are not common cases. In most of the situations we see, will be able to turn the impact of the article, as negative as it may be to not relevant. When pushing down an article, which is now on the fifth or sixth page of the search engine, It losses its effect completely.”
What measures do you take?
“We combine many practices and much experience. Methods taken for the PR worlds enable us to produce articles in leading media outlets that index well in the search engines. Also, PR methods give us the knowledge needed when negotiating with a journalist. This ability is valuable because if we succeed in persuading media outlets to remove the surname from the name of the person being offended or to reduce the number of times the brand name appears in the article, the indexation will become weaker, and it will be easier for us to push down the piece. Moreover, we work with legal consultants and international experts in the field of defamation. The smart way to operate is to maintain the threshold of war, without being dragged into one. The approach is to walk with the media on a tightrope, one that will lead the editor to think twice before confronting us. In that way, we can soften the content but not throw the client to the media’s legal department.”
Why not sue for defamation?
“Sometimes it’s the right thing to do, but most of the cases we’re involved in are on the gray border. We see many situations in which the customer feels that the media have trampled him, and on the other hand his case will not necessarily stand up to the court.
In such circumstances, we try to avoid a move that will take us to the legal department of the media. We will know to hint to the reporters and editors responsible that they risk by taking part in the publications, but without turning the process into a legal one. Once you have transferred to the legal department, the process becomes lengthy, expensive and, worse, irrevocable. If the legal department backs up the writing at the end of the examination process, then the client-led lawsuit has acted against him and has created a stamp of approval for the reporter, who now feels safer rather than feeling exposed to defamatory claims.
We work closely with lawyers from the field, and therefore know how to walk between the drops, and to claim arguments that have a legal basis, but less forcefully, in a way that will open the other side to the discourse.”
What do you have to say about the fact that people say you have used hackers in some cases?
Some have argued that you are using your abilities in the opposite direction – that is, acting against entities that harm your clients’ interests using your methods. What do you have to say about that?
“There is a reason why those who claimed this did not identify themselves. It’s easy to tell stories behind an anonymous identity. We act in ways that can be allegedly used in any direction – positive and negative alike.”
What is the most far-fetched thing you did to clear a person’s name?
“It’s hard for me to answer this question naturally, so I’ll tell you about an amusing incident instead. I’ve always loved snakes and I’ve got one in my office.
I wanted to create an article that would attract attention, many entries, and carry the name of the person we handled for it to be indexed instead of some negative mentions. We took our snake out of the office and released him in the bed of my three-year-old son, when he was not there, of course. We made some photos of it and distributed an item to the media about a snake caught in a cot. In the role of the father of the baby in whose bed the creeping snake was captured, we put a person bearing the name of the client we treated. It was not long before the article was published and won many views and entries and thus found its way to Google’s first page.”
How long does it take you to turn over a person’s or organization’s reputation end to end?
“In simple cases, the process can take a few weeks to a few months. In the more difficult situations the treatment may take longer and sometimes more than a year.
Among our clients, two against whom a cynical and violent campaign was conducted, they suffered an unusual smattering of articles on all the front pages of Google, over various talkbacks published online, and more.
If this were not enough, there were those who took care to promote the negative results so that they would climb up to the top of the first Google page. The case was a difficult one, but we succeeded. When the client has patience, we will achieve the preset goals.
This process is somewhat amorphous, so it is important to note that there is no magic here. ORM is an ongoing work. Persistence and understanding produce results.”
Is the outcome you provide permanent?
“It’s an excellent question and one that we encounter quite a bit. Search engines are dynamic, as the world of communication is. Everything constantly changes. A negative article that was suppressed to the third page on Google will not necessarily hold there for long. The result must be maintained by an SEO campaign while producing powerful digital assets that will climb up to the first page and be challenging to push. There is no need for an eternal ORM campaign, but when you reached the desired outcome with an ORM campaign, you should then maintain it with a regular SEO campaign.”
What is your advice to those who suffer from slander?
“The first advice will be to act in advance. Most of the companies, organizations, and individuals harmed by harmful communications operate in industries exposed to criticism. The smartest thing is to build the first few pages in the search engines in a way that reflects the brand values positively and will be difficult to penetrate for unwanted articles and mentions.
Another tip will be to contact a Crisis Management and ORM firm before the media publish a negative article. In many cases that we saw, the attacked body knew that a harmful item is going to be released about it but wrote to us only after the article was already on the website.
Contacting us or any crisis management and ORM agency before responding to the newspaper will significantly improve the situation and minimize damage. We know how to reduce the chances for the article to publish, or to soften it. Sometimes we choose not to give a response just so that the company name will appear less and to shorten the length of the text in the article. These things have great significance.
A third tip is for those who suffer from negative publicity, select vendors you trust. It is a process that may take several months and the amorphous demands of faith.”