Dis-guarded social media accounts provide good content for the paparazzi

Date: 27 Jan 2016

Bumblebee Design

Keith Schilling, chair and senior partner at Schillings, says that his firm is being increasingly tasked to deal with old social network accounts that can suddenly spark curiosity and expose even the most social media savvy.


What should UHNWIs be aware of when frequenting nightclubs? What are the dangers for their reputation?

It’s important to carry out some basic due diligence before setting out; ensuring that you can relax and enjoy your night on the town. First, ask yourself where details of your night out might become known, who might record images of it and whether there’s anything you’re planning to do that is best avoided. Second, think about how photos taken of you entering, leaving or inside the nightclub will be of interest to others. For example, will the pictures themselves be of interest or could they be used to illustrate another story about you or your brand? Be under no illusion, images on social media have a nasty habit of popping up at the most inconvenient of times, so a planned social media strategy is essential.

Tell us about some interesting cases you’ve been dealing with?

For successful individuals, intense media and public interest is part and parcel of life. But that doesn’t mean that privacy in today’s digital age is dead. That is why last year we were brought in to help a prominent couple safeguard their wedding day from media intrusion.

We started by scoping out the wedding venue with the clients’ security team and putting in place confidentiality agreements with the venue and suppliers. We then set our cyber team to work to ensure that the website hosting information for guests was secured so that details of the wedding were kept quiet. Forty-eight hours before the wedding, our legal team began issuing legal complaints to publications who had sent reporters to the venue warning them to respect the couple’s privacy. On the day, again in liaison with the security team, we were able to identify reporters and then immediately contact their publications warning them not to publish any photos. Working in tandem, our intelligence team monitored social media so that we could instruct the few over-enthusiastic guests who had posted photos of the wedding on social media to remove them before the media got hold of them. As a result of our actions, not only were our clients able to enjoy their special day, but not a single photo of the wedding was made public.

What’s the difference between crisis reputation management and a long-term strategy in this area?

Crisis reputation is about limiting the reputational fallout. A long-term strategy is about building resilience into your privacy and reputation. As prevention is better than cure, we would advocate taking a pre-emptive approach when it comes to safeguarding your privacy and reputation.

As successful individuals find their personal information increasingly at risk, either from hackers or social media platforms themselves, those not engaging would be forgiven for feeling a sense of confidence in their own privacy. However, when it comes to protecting sensitive personal data, it would be wrong to consider yourself less vulnerable simply because you don’t tweet or don’t have the latest apps on your smartphone. By way of example, at Schillings, we are being increasingly tasked to deal with old social network accounts that can suddenly spark curiosity.

Very often it’s the references family, friends or business connections make on social media about your activities, that become the source of a good story. So as well as ensuring their privacy settings are regularly controlled, it’s also important that successful individuals educate those close to them on how to act safely online so as not to inadvertently bring their reputation into disrepute.

What’s the best policy or gold standard for reputation and brand management?

Successful individuals must take the pre-emptive steps to identify threats to their privacy and reputation in order to minimise exposure. The trick here is to get interested before someone else does because when it comes to privacy, nothing is out of scope.