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When Business Intelligence and Spycraft Meet

I have to admit that my work does sounds intriguing, especially when you live in a city rife with spies and spycraft.

I tell most people I am a business man who does business. When that isn't enough, I tell people I am in PR. I am lucky enough to have my own "virtual" company, can keep my own hours, have almost thirty employees spread around the world. When I share this, which isn't very often, it confounds people -- which is why I mostly keep it to myself.

Sometime, after a few drinks or during dinner parties that are falling into dullness (or, if I am just feeling playful) I take my simple PR work further and discuss some aspects of my work that can ring of inrigue: online intelligence and operations. Simply put, this means that clients hire me to create, groom, improve, or repair their online persona.

Usually, most companies use online monitoring to track the course of their online brand perception, that's all. My company has a rapid response operations component that is brilliant at engaging negative discussion online and either diluting it so completely that it effectively disappears or by doing a little bit of Judo and turning the negative attack into a net-positive. This all comes down to aggressive hearts and minds outreach and persuasion and needs to happen shamelessly, powerfully, professionally, and expertly.

Needless to say, the sort of clients who are not only interested in this sort of work but who can also pay our fees are the sort of clients who get a lot of attention anyway. Funnily enough, I always attract the attention of people who one might fancy being spies assigned to me on a reconnaissance detail. You know, just to make sure I am who and what I say I am, which is to say just a humble PR consultant who focuses exclusively on influencing, guiding, and respoding to online conversation.

Half a year ago I took a client who is an oligarch and a businessman -- or, rather, he was. This work was intriguing even to me as my job was to remove his brushes with International courts and his scrapes with the leaders of his former Soviet Union.

This was no easy game because while I am very good at what I do with online brand reputation management and repair (I am a cleaner), I knew that my work was being countermanded both by a communications team in Russia and by a wide assortment of articles and post in the Russian press that made it a constant challenge to both gain ground and hold it in the search engines.

At the end of the day, however, my client disappeared under suspicious circumstances. While there is no confirmation that there was foul play -- I mean, this could be a publicity stunt -- the contract has broken and the operation has been decommissioned.

You know what they say ... you're not in the big league until you have a client disappeared!

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