Yesterday was a challenging day at Page 1 Solutions. We were faced with being drawn into an international controversy due to our relationship with a former client.
Today, I would like to set the record straight by putting all of the facts out on the table. So here goes:
Early yesterday morning I received a group email from Andrew Bare one of our content writers. The email was entitled: "Dentist hunts and kills beloved Zimbabwean lion" and included a link to the article in the Telegraph. Our writers frequently share interesting articles about dentistry, cosmetic surgery, ophthalmology and law with each other and with our Internet Marketing Specialists and Social Media Team to ensure that we are all up to speed on the latest information in the areas that might be of value to our clients. This article was shared because it was a developing story that already was having a significant impact on social media. I read the article and found Dr. Palmer's action in killing Cecil the Lion to be reprehensible. Neither I, Andrew nor any other member of the Writing Team realized at the time that Dr. Palmer was a former client of our company.
An hour or two later, we started receiving calls and social media posts attacking Page 1 Solutions. Then the angry social media posts and negative reviews started to appear. Initially, this took our staff by surprise because nobody was familiar with the doctor's name. Although River Bluff Dental had been a client of ours, we always referred to the client by the name of the practice and not by Dr. Palmer's name. Brad, our Senior IT Specialist, took three angry calls from people who were upset that we were marketing Dr. Palmer's website. This was confusing since our contractual relationship with River Bluff Dental was terminated in 2013 and we had not even hosted his website since then.
I am very proud of how the entire Page 1 Solutions Team handled the situation.
- Brad addressed the callers and made clear that Dr. Palmer was not a client. As he dug in further, he figured out that River Bluff Dental had never transferred its domain name to the new marketing company when our relationship with River Bluff Dental ended back in 2013. So, it was possible that the fact that the domain was registered in our account was causing the association. Brad made the registrar information private in an attempt to disassociate Page 1 from RiverBluffDental.com.
- Some other team members figured out that even though the RiverBluffDental.com website had been taken down, Google's cached version showed Page 1 Solutions as the company that had designed and optimized the website. This was confusing because when River Bluff Dental left Page 1, another website built by 352 Media was put online. A copy of this other website can be found on archive.org and I am posting a screenshot here. We can only speculate that at some point, River Bluff Dental discontinued its relationship with 352 Media and put our old website back online. We assume this is why Google had a cached version of the old website we created for River Bluff Dental back in 2009 and 2010.
- The social media posts, comments and reviews were coming in waves. Andrew Wasyluk, one of our Social Media Specialists was dealing with these posts as they came in and reported the matter to our Management Team. Andrew also connected with our representatives on Facebook to let them know what was happening. At one point, nine negative reviews and many negative comments were posted on our Facebook page within an hour.
- Our Director of Account Services, Shannon Montoya, put together some information for Andrew and other Team members to use in addressing the situation. The key points in that response were the fact that we haven't represented River Bluff Dental since 2013 and that we don't in any way condone Dr. Palmer's actions. In addition, Shannon pointed out that "we take great pride in our commitment to community service and the support of all humanitarian organizations and causes. Just today, we were recognized by a local organization for our contributions to help children in need obtain school supplies."
- Andrew Wasyluk, Lisa Weatherbie, and Jenell Henning dealt with the continued negative posts throughout the afternoon and evening. Here are some examples of the types of things that were posted:
Late in the afternoon, Brian Haitz, one of our Internet Marketing Consultants, suggested that we contact the local media outlets and let them know what had happened. Because of the notoriety of the Cecil the Lion story, we received an almost immediate response from KDVR, the Fox affiliate in Denver. They sent out a reporter and a videographer and interviewed me on the topic. Bill Fukui, as he always does, stayed late to be with me during the interview. They didn't include most of the interview, but they did broadcast this story on the 9:00 news last night.
Now, a little personal commentary. I am not a hunter, but I have no problem with hunting in general. It is an accepted part of American life. On the other hand, I believe that Dr. Palmer's actions in this case were beyond the pale and unacceptable. Nobody at Page 1 condones the killing of Cecil the Lion. Page 1 has always been focused on giving back - supporting the environment and helping charitable organizations in our community. On this page, you can see some of the organizations that we support. We have been supporting organizations like The Action Center, Second Wind Fund and Arbor Day Foundation for years. We have "Adopted a Highway" and supported Volunteer Outdoor Colorado and Habitat for Humanity among others. And, our subsidiary, Altrumedia, donates 10% of its profits to charitable organizations including Center for Constitutional Rights, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Wild Animal Sanctuary. We have been doing this for years and have no intention of stopping now.
I want to reiterate how proud I am of the entire Page 1 Team. Each member of the Team dealt with this challenging situation with a clear head and focused on how to fix the problem. This reinforces the confidence that I have in our staff. I know that when a client is faced with a crisis, we will deal with that just as we did with this.