Monday, 18 January 2010

BD Recruitment: How Not to Manage Your Online Reputation

I recently wrote an article for the PRCA website (Public Relations Consultants Association) that talks about the rapidly increasing requirement for PR consultants to actively manage online reputations. It’s an area that any PR agency worth its salt is taking very seriously, but isn’t limited to those of us working in public relations. With the advent of the real-time web, Google reporting tweets in SERPS and Sidewiki, every company, large or small, has to start treating online brand monitoring as a critical function.

This isn’t simply opinion, however, it’s fact. And if you need convincing of this, in the last few days I’ve stumbled across a fantastic example of a company that is, apparently, completely ignorant of the power of digital media and the hammering it is receiving in this channel.

The business in question is a recruitment agency called BD Recruitment, based in Manchester. About this time last year, the company annoyed a prospective client so much that, after complaining privately and getting nowhere, he chose to write this post on his blog. In it, he slates BD Recruitment’s spam-led approach and goes on to recommend a competitive company. What’s interesting, however, is not the post itself, or the fact that it gained 30-odd comments from people largely agreeing with him and calling BD Recruitment, among other things, “a bunch of jokers” and “bean-eating morons”. What’s interesting is that if you run a Google search for the term BD Recruitment, the blog post comes up 3rd in the SERPS, directly below the company’s own website. Furthermore, with his knowledge of SEO, the blogger has entitled his post (and thus, what Google displays): “BD Recruitment Ltd of Manchester I Will Never Use Your Services”.

It’s now nearly a year since the blog post was written, and yet the post is still placing higher than everything other than the company’s own website in the search rankings. Indeed, a separate blogger has now added his own post, entitled “BD Recruitment Send Email CCing Every SEO in the North West”, which now appears at position 4. And incredibly, just last week in an update on the original post, the blogger says that BD Recruitment is still spamming companies. The blogger tweeted this, which is where I and many others would have come to see the post.

If there’s one thing that this mini-case study demonstrates, it’s that reputations can and will be won and lost online as we move into the new decade. BD Recruitment seems to have no idea what damage is being done to its brand on the web, and has made no attempt to contact the blogger, apologise, discuss the issues and ask for the post to be removed. (UPDATE 26/1/10: see comments below.) Or maybe it simply doesn’t care.

What are your thoughts?

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  1. Paul
    A great example of a post using a real life 'example' to illustrate a very important point.
    Additionally, I think this is where monitoring strategies / tools / approaches are important.
    Not only do you need to be aware of things like this surfacing (which many tools do) you have to act quickly which is often the thing that doesn't occur.
    Awareness, assessment and action make up some decent founding principals in my opinion.

  2. Hi Adam
    You're absolutely right in that monitoring will become more and more important. What gets me about this specific case is that even a simple, free tool such as Google Alerts would have picked this up. But as you point out, you must then act on the knowledge this gives you. I find it hard to believe that BD Recruitment is not aware of this. And if they are, to have done nothing in an entire year is astounding.
    Paul (Digital Media Director @ Cirkle)

  3. It's unfortunate to see such behavior online, but this is a perfect example of why companies need to get involved in social media, figure out what it is, how to use it, and how to calculate their ROI because their clients are expecting it - and their headhunting candidates.
    Thanks for the case study.


  4. Just mentioned this to my business partner. They've been spamming him as well despite assuring him he's been taken off their mailing list. Their reputation is being hammered on seo linked in groups now. A target market is getting very specific information about them. Bad, bad move. Theyve had a long time to put this right and havent done a thing from what I can see.

  5. Totally, Michelle. Every company that's flirting around the idea of social media should see this. It's an example of how not engaging with social media can be damaging in itself.
    Paul (Digital Media Director @ Cirkle)

  6. Are you sure about this:

    "has made no attempt to contact the blogger"

    I think you need to ask Simon Wharton this question.

    Really exciting article though.

  7. UPDATE: Simon Wharton, the blogger in question, has confirmed to us that BD Recruitment did contact him some time after the original post appeared, but that it was apparent that the spamming practices did not change. He has now received two emails from the company MD apologising and promising to review the company's processes.
    (thanks to Robert for pointing this out)
    Paul (Digital Media Director @ Cirkle)

  8. An interesting post. Thanks.

    As a 'softer' recruitment business that doesn't bug its clients every day, we hear frightful stories about how some agencies behave. One HR Director client has a voicemail box specifically for agencies. Reception simply transfers all agency calls (30+ a day) to this voicemail box and then they simply delete all messages every few days without listening to them.

    I thought it was a little harsh until she told me some of the techniques agencies use to get through to her direct extension. The best included posing as a flower delivery man who needed to pass on a message from her loved one, a doctor from the local hospital who said some urgent news and an insurance company calling about a car crach she was allegedly involved in!

  9. Considering they are trying to fill vacancies in SEO, you would think they would do something to counter this. But having first hand experiance with them, Im so glad they didnt as I wouldnt of learned sooner what I have been suspecting for weeks...

    ....theyre a waste of time and Ive applied for 15 jobs and havent got 1 interview! Ive been fobbed off etc whenever I called, so Im thankful for their ignorance in this case.