Rebuked Ex-Army Lt. General Pays For Online Reputation Boost

Thursday, 30 Jan 2014 05:56 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A retired Army officer reprimanded for bullying his staff and belittling subordinates is getting his tarnished reputation burnished online.

Army Times reported Wednesday that retired Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, the former chief of the Missile Defense Agency, apparently hired OptimizeUp, which specializes in "reputation management" by getting Google rankings to display certain content higher in its search results.

In O’Reilly’s case, Army Times found a glut of positive information posted in blogs, releases and YouTube videos is now interspersed in Google search results of O'Reilly along with a withering May 2012 Department of Defense inspector general’s report recommending corrective action. The report blasted O’Reilly’s leadership style – described by one subordinate as "management by blowtorch and pliers.”

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta allowed O’Reilly to retire and keep his rank, but issued a reprimand, the newspaper reported.

"It does look like a classic case of reputation management,"Andy Beal, an author and online profile expert, told Army Times.

"A quick perusal for the search results for his name indicate there has been a deliberate attempt to take control of what shows up in Google. You have multiple social media accounts, all talking about him in the third person, all talking about him in a positive light. If there is something negative trying to be suppressed, this is how you would do that."

The Army Times noted OptimizeUp’s press release is the second search result for O’Reilly on Google, two above the first news report about the DOD inspector general’s probe.

On Yahoo!, the first page of search results has just one reference to the scandal.

Army Times also reports there are accounts on Google+, slideshare.net and storify.com, as well sites like allvoices.com, quora.com, behance.net, issuu.com, webs.com, magcloud.com, about.me, prezi.com, cvshare.net, profiled.com, magnt.com and Zerply.com — all with hypertext links to one another.

Beal told the newspaper he would estimate the cost of the online reputation rewrite as  $10,000 to $15,000.

O’Reilly declined to comment to Army Times.

Business Insider reported Thursday that reputation management is becoming a lucrative and growing industry, noting a 2010 Microsoft survey found 70 percent of companies have rejected job seekers because of their online reputation.

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