Search and social media companies should do more to protect privacy
Dominic Crossley, partner at Payne Hicks Beach Solicitors says that whether UHNWIs want to maintain a low profile or attract attention, they must be consistent with their public image or it can be difficult to enforce legal boundaries or take preventative action.
What should UHNWIs be aware of when frequenting nightclubs?
Even for UHNWIs, nightclubs should be for letting your hair down, and where music, not legal advice, should be ringing in your ears. But we all know examples of enormous reputational damage caused within or outside nightclubs. The most frequent concerns from clients are paparazzi photographers seeking to capture unguarded moments outside prominent clubs. Sometimes other guests within the club take images with their smartphones. My clients are generally well aware of these risks and conduct themselves accordingly.
Tell us about some interesting cases you’ve been dealing with.
I have been dealt with a wide range of circumstances, ranging from the extremely serious, where criminal offences are committed, to those where there has been a mildly unflattering image posted on social media. The fact that images are uploaded so quickly makes preventing widespread dissemination so challenging and I believe that there is still much to be done by search and social media companies to allow effective protection of privacy. In the real world, it is often uncomfortable to know you are being photographed and difficult to make it clear that you consent. If necessary, contact the nightclub security in advance who can be helpful in these situations.
What’s the difference between crisis reputation management and a long-term strategy in this area?
I predominantly deal with crisis situations or an unlawful act. Often, these are situations that cannot have been predicted and one sensible safeguard is to have the mobile number of a lawyer to hand if a situation flares up. But it is also sensible for high-profile UHNWIs who wish to maintain a low profile to take preventive measures and to know how to maintain an enforceable boundary between their private and public lives. Social media is often the area that needs attention so a Facebook or Instagram page, especially those of your family and close friends which should be reviewed to assess the extent of the information they display.
What’s the best policy or gold standard for reputation and brand management?
For a number of my clients, the gold standard is as near anonymity as possible and they will go to extreme lengths to keep their name out of all media, no matter how wealthy or successful. For them, their reputation amongst those they do business with, friends, and family is all that matters. Others enjoy being in the spotlight and will tolerate coverage that would make most of us cringe and can laugh off the criticism. The key is to recognise what works for you and try to maintain consistency. If you are not consistent, it can be more difficult to enforce boundaries and take preventative action. For most clients, their “brand” or reputation is won through talent and hard work and it is my job to ensure that it is not unfairly damaged or destroyed. And if it is, I help repair it and hold the wrongdoer responsible. A good reputation is such a valuable commodity for a successful person, it deserves proper protection