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Business aims to restore clients’ reputations on the Web

When you want to boot something out of your life, you 86 it. When you want to boot something about yourself off the Internet, you can now do the same thing.

Digital 86, on the Web at digital86.com, is the brainchild of Alex Simon of Summerlin. His company, established in spring 2014, replaces online media bad-mouthing with ones more favorable to his clients.

“We want people to be portrayed fairly because most of the people who go online to post reviews are upset,” he said. “People don’t go online to say, ‘What a wonderful service I received.’ They are angry that something went wrong. They don’t take the time to cool down. No, they get on Yelp and they say, ‘This business sucks.’ So most of the reviews are negative.”

Digital 86 takes those comments and buries them with new posts, featuring comments that are favorable and positive while still being factual.

“I’m like a defense attorney in the court of public opinion,” Simon explained. “These people deserve to be defended online and portrayed fairly. … All the focus is on the negative, like the local news. There are hardly any positive stories.”

Simon worked in public relations since 1999 with professional fighters. As the digital age matured, he found himself not so much promoting them as repairing their online reputations.

“These guys would get themselves into trouble, so it was more crisis management,” Simon said. “… They require their (online presence) be cleaned up, like if they said the wrong thing on Twitter.”

Digital 86 works on and monitors dozens of clients’ online presences on a daily basis, none of whom Simon can reveal, but he did say many are attorneys and doctors. He services the accounts along with 12 employees, many IT techs who work abroad in Eastern Europe, South America and India.

“We needed a certain skill set and a lot of the best technical people I found were abroad,” he said.

Gary Kaur, senior project manager, works on around 24 accounts daily. He said about 10 percent of his day requires knowledge of coding; the rest is creative work.

“There are different types of challenges from one client to another,” he said. “Generally, campaigns involving damaging listings on government or very popular news sites demand more effort and time as compared to other websites.”

One account involved a well-known celebrity who had many damaging listings on the first page of their Google search results due to some recent indiscretions.

“It was tough because the keyword, the celebrity’s name, was already popular, with huge amounts of content published on what we call high-authority websites,” Kaur said. “Since our job involves suppressing the negative links, we had to publish positive content that would be considered by Google more important than what was already showing.”

That project was ultimately successful and took nearly six months.

Digital 86 also keeps track of changes that Google makes to its algorithms so it’s on top of catchphrases and key words that can trigger sending a post to the head of the line. The software alerts Simon when such key words appear alongside his clients’ names.

“The first page of Google is your first impression,” Simon said. “We’re no longer meeting people, shaking their hand and saying, ‘Hello.’ We google their name before we meet them. And 90 percent of people don’t go past the first page, so your first page on Google is critical.’

Not all of the posts that Digital 86 initiates are to bury bad comments. Sometimes it’s a proactive approach to keep the clients’ online presence up to date, relevant and to further their branding.

Even the little guy should keep up with his online presence, Simon said.

“I recommend to people that they own their social media whether it’s Facebook or Google+, LinkedIn or Twitter, even if you don’t use it,” Simon said. “If you can write a blog under your name, do that. And think before you post anything online. If need be, run it past somebody else to see what they think.”

The service starts at $3,000 a month.

“We believe everybody should get a second chance,” Simon said. “Everybody makes mistakes, and if you made one, it shouldn’t ruin your life.”

To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email her at jhogan@viewnews.com or call her at 702-387-2949.

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