Rural Estates Newsletter Spring 2021 - Flipbook - Page 18
7 – What to do when the media storm hits
The adage ‘it takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes
to ruin it’ is only half true for many of the country’s rural estates.
Reputations may have been built over centuries and in the internet age
your good name can be lost in a keystroke.
The bad review
Not so many years ago, a bad review of a rural visitor attraction might have gone as far
as the neighbours next door and stopped there. The sandwiches weren’t up to much,
there was nowhere to park, the monkeys broke our windscreen wiper. Perhaps a grumpy
frustration about the state of the loos was scribbled on a scrap of paper and dropped
into the suggestion box on the way out. Today, everyone is a critic, and everyone is a
publisher. A good review on Tripadvisor or Trustpilot has the potential to send thousands
more visitors your way. A bad one might encourage people to drive on past. And while
country estates have to suffer the indignities of genuine bad reviews like everyone else
(because, sometimes, your sandwiches will be awful and the queues will be dreadful)
what do you do if people are maligning your business maliciously?
While country estates have to suffer the indignities of
genuine bad reviews like everyone else, what do you
do if people are maligning your business maliciously?
A business which operates for profit can be defamed in much the same way an individual
can. And the laws of libel apply as much to the Tripadvisor reviewer as they do to the
editor of The Times. There is, of course, no recourse with genuinely bad reviews – you
just have to up your game. But there is also no place for reviews which have been
manipulated by your rivals, or by a disgruntled visitor who floods Trustpilot with a
hundred 1-star reviews complaining about the cold coffee. Each of the major review
websites have policies which forbid the manipulation of rankings by the disgruntled or
malicious. Less frequent are reviews which are genuinely libellous and falsely impugn the
reputation of a company or an individual so badly that you may feel your only resort is in
law. A recent case saw a law firm take a Trustpilot reviewer to the High Court for an online
review which had called them “scam solicitors”. The reviewer was fined £25,000 for his
libel and yet, in the end, there was no clear winner. After the ruling, the firm of solicitors
found themselves on the receiving end of so many negative reviews that Trustpilot had to
suspend their business page. As so often in law, you must pick your battles.
Rural Estates Newsletter