22 Jul Jeffrey Epsteinâs sinister PR strategy was a âclassic t…
Jeffrey Epstein wielded upper-crust cachet and an online PR storm to rehabilitate his image after registering as a sex offender more than a decade ago, according to a recent profile by The New York Times. But the latter tactic would be far less effective if he were to employ it today, reputation-management experts told MarketWatch.
The wealthy financier, who pleaded not guilty this month to sex-trafficking charges, reportedly âsurrounded himself with prestige and counted on others to look past what he had doneâ after serving 13 months in a Florida county jail. Epstein, 66, had cut a controversial plea deal in 2008 after having been accused of sexually abusing underage girls.
âJeffrey Epstein appears to be a natural at social engineering amongst high society.â
He went on to launch a handful of websites highlighting his contributions to society â among them JeffreyEpsteinEducation.com and JeffreyEpsteinScience.com â as well as flood the internet with positive Epstein press releases and faux news stories. He also played up his benefactor connections to Harvard University, which he never attended, according to the Times.
âJeffrey Epstein appears to be a natural at social engineering amongst high society. Thus, he was able to steadily re-ingratiate himself with the rich and famous, many of whom appear to be willing to simply look the other way about each otherâs transgressions,â Jonathan Bernstein, a crisis-management consultant, told MarketWatch.
âSecond, his online blitz of allegedly positive information was a classic tactic of spamming the internet for SEO benefits,â he added. âThat was easier to do 10 years ago than it is now, because Google
has tightened its algorithms.â Â
Burying negative results
Indeed, a common strategy is to push negative stories beneath the first page of search results. Michael Frantz, the director of Jail Time Consulting and a former white-collar offender who served federal prison time, says his firm offers a reputation-restoration service that creates content, including social-media pages and positive exact-match domains (domain names that match specific keywords) for clients. A website for the service says its goal is âto bury as many of the negative articles as possible so no one sees them.â
One consultancy also offers a criminal-records removal service that promises to âremove everything about anyoneâ from 33 criminal background-check websites.
âWeâre creating all this backlinking, blogs, sites and then articles over and over â¦ we can do videos,â Frantz told MarketWatch. Cost for the basic service starts with a $1,500 down payment and he charges a monthly fee for six months, he said, typically totaling $10,200. The price tag can increase, depending on the nature of the clientâs case, he said.
The consultancy also offers a criminal-records removal service that promises to âremove everything about anyoneâ from 33 criminal background-check websites, including Intelius, BeenVerified and LexisNexis Peoplewise. That work involves filing documentation containing the personâs personal details with each individual company to have the information removed, Frantz said, and costs a client $865.
While Bernstein recommends that disgraced public figures lie low and quietly repent at first, he says those who have sufficiently rehabbed their image may be able to venture into search-engine optimization (SEO) work. He advises such clients to first take control of every online profile they can â i.e., LinkedIn, Facebook