To clean up its online reputation, the University of California, Davis paid $175,000 for an attempt to minimize negative search engine results about a November 2011 pepper spray incident between UC Davis police and student protesters.
An investigation by The Sacramento Bee shows the public university hired two online reputation management firms to minimize negative search engine results that flooded the Internet.
The program was funded by the UC Davis’ communications department in efforts to highlight positive search results about the university and its Chancellor Linda Katehi. Speaking in defense of the strategy, UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis told The Bee, “We have worked to ensure that the reputation of the university, which the chancellor leads, is fairly portrayed.... We wanted to promote and advance the important teaching, research and public service done by our students, faculty and staff, which is the core mission of our university.”
Communications experts say the actions by UC Davis were executed terribly.
Ira Kalb, Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing, USC's Marshall School of Business; President, Kalb & Associates, a consulting firm
Doug Elmets, President of Elmets Communications - public affairs consultants in Sacramento