Ratings Wield Unfair Power: How Black Business Owners Can Protect Brand Image From Negative Online Reviews

Lori Shepherd
Written by Lori Shepherd

Lori Shepherd, founder of 25SecondsPR, has worked for 15-plus years as a public relations/communications strategist in the Silicon Valley area. As a guest columnist, she’ll be sharing on Moguldom.com her perspective on inclusion in the tech sphere, her insights about emerging tech innovators making a difference, and veteran innovators who already have. Why 25 Seconds? “25 seconds tops is the time a public relations professional has to pique an influencer’s attention with a compelling pitch,” Lori says. Email Lori at lori@25secondspr.com.

It happened to me. My 25SecondsPR office received a voice message last year from a person seeking directions to a building where I share office space in downtown Oakland, California.

He was calling for directions to attend a job interview at 25SecondsPR — a job interview I never scheduled nor a job that existed. Within minutes of this person leaving the voice message, he also left a Google+ notification business rating for my business. It was a 1-Star rating. I was livid.

After a little investigation, I discovered that the person who left the rating intended to leave it for another company. Not mine.

Despite the mistake and pleas to Google to remove it, the low rating is still quite visible to date.

Welcome to the odd business practice of online reviews, where deserved or not, ratings wield unfair power.

Whether you run a conventional brick-and-mortar enterprise or operate entirely in virtual space, negative online reviews are a reality and an inevitability you will have to deal with at some point. And, not just occasionally, but often and repeatedly.

It’s simply a fact of life: there are dozens of sites on the Internet, either locally- or nationally-based, where your customers can share their thoughts about your business’s performance (or lack thereof).

Potential customers know this and may very well go searching for these reviews before they decide to patronize your website or establishment. They are especially likely to search for this

Sign up for the Moguldom newsletter — the most compelling business news you need to know about reversing inequality in tech, delivered straight to your inbox.

View Comments