13:16 08.02.2024

Fighting black PR: real story from Maestro Hotel Management

5 min read

Maestro Hotel Management, a management company specializing in the management of premium hotel complexes, has recently faced a challenge familiar to many businesses - black PR. 

Black PR is a well-known tool aimed at eliminating a competitor by dishonest means, by deteriorating their reputation. Black PR is often used to drive a competitor out of the market or prevent them from entering a market of interest. This story is about how a company faced black PR and what steps it took to protect its reputation and restore justice by defeating the slanderers.

The beginning of the PR campaign against Maestro Hotel Management
Within two weeks, competitors published two negative articles in six paid publications, using outright fabrication and false accusations to damage Maestro Hotel Management's reputation. The competitor chose a loud and scandalous title to attract attention - "The Beachfront Scam". The articles focused on the company's strategic goals and were distributed in the regions where Maestro operates. All of this had one goal: to cause reputational damage and block the company's path to a new market.

The company did not hesitate to respond. Maestro sent a complaint to the media outlets demanding that they remove the false information. 

"Unfortunately, there are resources that do not adhere to information hygiene and are not interested in the accuracy of facts. They do not require any confirmation from the customer and do not verify the data themselves, although it is quite easy to refute slander with the help of open registers of legal entities. Prices for placement range from 500 to 1000 euros. There are even separate prices for scandalous articles. Accordingly, anyone and everyone can post paid-for material about anyone - it is enough to have the necessary amount of money. And nothing can be done about this state of affairs," Eduard Rezhynsky, CEO of Maestro Hotel Management, told the editorial board.

For its part, Maestro resorted to legal methods by filing lawyer's requests to remove the unreliable materials. 

Deployment of the campaign
Competitors did not limit themselves to media publications and expanded their black PR campaign to other information platforms.
1. Telegram publics are popular.
The choice of a tool for rapid dissemination of information is undoubtedly excellent - Telegram channels have an incredibly wide audience. As expected, the posts did not allow commenting so that the company could not defend itself.
Again, the competitors chose resources from the regions that are within the scope of Maestro Hotel Management's interests. Appeals to the channel administrations brought different results: from a quick agreement to remove the defamatory content to extortion for removal.
2. Business communities and groups in the company's core areas of interest - hotel management and investment.
At this stage of the conflict, anonymous profiles were added to various groups that unite industry professionals. They shared links to negative articles, accompanying them with rhetorical questions such as: "Do you think this could affect the market?". Such actions were intended to draw attention to the defamatory content, thereby casting doubt on the company's reputation.
The company's representatives refuted the slander where they could, but where they were absent from the discussion, competitors managed to create a negative image of Maestro in the eyes of the community.
3. The next stage of aggressive actions on the part of competitors was the initiation of targeted cyberattacks using botnets on the company's official website and social media profiles. 
However, due to the high level of information security at Maestro Hotel Management, these attempts were quickly neutralized. This incident did not have any critical consequences for the company's operations, but it proved to be an important experience in the field of cyber defense. 
4. As the conflict escalated further, competitors' actions crossed the line of professional ethics and resulted in threats against partners.
Anonymous sources began to warn of possible negative consequences for those who decide to cooperate with Maestro Hotel Management. Such actions could have jeopardized the stability and trust in partnerships, but due to the company's unquestionable reputation and transparency in doing business, the destabilization attempts failed.
5. The situation took a new turn when the aggression spread to the company's staff, who began receiving threats.
For the team, such attacks were completely unexpected and caused outrage due to their groundlessness and cynicism. In response, Maestro Hotel Management held a series of outreach meetings for employees, which aimed not only to relieve unnecessary tension but also to strengthen the internal spirit and team cohesion. These actions helped maintain a positive morale among employees and confirmed the high level of corporate culture at Maestro Hotel Management.

Results of the fight against black PR
The fight against black PR has confirmed that honesty and transparency remain the best strategy. Maestro Hotel Management used two key approaches to counteract the competitors' campaign.

1. The first methodology is based on a preventive approach, which includes systematic work to maintain a positive reputation and develop trusting relationships with partners and customers. Thanks to this approach, the Maestro brand has gained a high level of trust in the market.

2. The second methodology is to ignore negative attacks and focus on implementing your own PR strategy, which aims to further develop and promote the brand, regardless of competitors' attempts to undermine its reputation. According to the company, competitors' spending on black PR amounted to several thousand dollars.

Thanks to Maestro Hotel Management's proactive stance and the use of legitimate legal tools to counter black PR, the company managed to neutralize all attempts at discrediting the brand - all false publications were removed. Maestro decided to refrain from retaliatory measures, choosing a strategy of adhering to the principles of fair competition, believing that excellence in doing business is the best strategy.

Maestro's experience can be useful not only for industry representatives, but also for the wider business community, emphasizing the importance of reputation management as a never-ending process in a competitive market.