February 18, 2013
“Protect Your Practice Carefully Against Negative Online Reviews”
Fox Rothschild LLP Website
A recent court decision to throw out a doctor’s well-publicized defamation case raises the question: What’s the best way to deal with negative online comments about your practice?
Neurologist Dr. David McKee pursued the defamation suit against the author of some negative online reviews for more than two years before the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed a lower court opinion and threw his suit out. According to court papers the defendant objected to McKee’s behavior while treating his father and criticized him on various websites.
Studies of online review sites in general show these reviews to be influential on consumer behavior.
Attorneys recommend to take several steps short of legal action in order to protect yourself against negative reviews such as the those experienced by Dr. McKee.
Some attorneys suggest reaching out to the critic however attorney William Maruca advises that trying to answer a critic with your side of the story can be dangerous – particularly if you do it in the forum where the criticism appears.
“The danger is escalating a bad situation into one that could attract more attention,” says Maruca. “One unhappy review in a long list of favorable reviews is more likely to be overlooked or discounted than if there is a lengthy flame war on your review page.”
In addition attorneys suggest using low-impact legal tactics such as a cease-and-desist order from an attorney. It also may be valuable to try using positive news to combat the bad. If you promulgate your positives with an eye toward search engine optimization you may find that the good outweighs the bad.