Online Reputation Management: A Case Study

One thing that will likely live forever, somewhere on Google’s servers, is what you write online. More importantly, though, is what other people write about you. Case in point: photographer Steven E. Frischling.

Steve writes the popular blog Flying With Fish, markets himself as a corporate and editorial photographer at FishPhotoWorldwide and as a wedding photographer at FishPhoto.

He’s smart — very smart — to separate those two business lines. Crazy as it sounds, corporate/commercial clients won’t generally hire a photographer who lists “weddings” as something they do. Wrong, I know, but it’s a fact of life. Steve has recognized this.

He markets himself for weddings internationally using Craigslist in London, Paris, Tokyo, Boston, Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Miami. Each of those links shows you how he’s promoted himself there. By his own account, he’s racked up over 850,000 miles since 2005 alone. Clearly, he’s been busy.

Customer Complaints

So, why is Steve a case study in online reputation management?

Since April of this year, several brides have penned unpleasant listings about him on; read them here. Are they accurate? Who knows.

The Better Business Bureau Web site has four unresolved complaints against him here. Are those accurate? Again, no one knows.

With the immediacy of the Internet, people can write, post, complain, and otherwise be critical of you, and it’s spread everywhere — accurate or not.

The Good with the Bad

Now for the positive. Frischling appeared on Good Morning America (here) discussing thefts at airports, and spends a great deal of time contributing at a forum I read as well — FlyerTalk — which is the place where hardened travelers discuss all the nuances of travel and how to make it easier. Steve’s published almost 1,000 posts there.

You can check out his contributions at this link; he’s fairly prolific. He’s also active over at, as seen here.

So he’s got positives, yes, but there are negatives that are still out there. Just as Steve needs to be attentive to them, so too should you be attentive to any that are critical of you.

All of this goes to show that what you write — helpful, critical, or otherwise — is stored in countless server dungeons around the world, and people can find it. Moreover, and more importantly, spending time locating and then correcting incorrect information is critical to maintaining a positive online reputation.

4 Responses to “Online Reputation Management: A Case Study”

  1. "...Spending time locating and then correcting incorrect information is critical to maintaining a positive online reputation."

    John, with all due respect, I disagree. I can't imagine having a client who takes the time to complain about me online. If I didn't do a good job and I didn't address their concerns at the outset, well then, I deserve it!

    Endangering your reputation from incorrect or correct information begins with your relationship with your clients. While I sympathize with Steve, I can't relate. At all.

    God forbid I ever have to recruit people to help tamp down the uproars of unhappy clients.

    Actually, that's MY job. And I should NEVER have to spend time locating and correcting bad information. To do so means I'm actually doing something wrong in my business.

    It seems to me that Stephen bit off more than he can chew and hence his somewhat poor reputation with his clients. No matter how "smart" he happens to be.

  2. John,

    I have been pursing the few detractors to my business and my images, as I have detailed in your posts on your blog.

    As of today, one of the detractors I was suing, who commented on your blog, failed to answer her the court regarding my suit against them, defaulting.

    So while I have 'won' in court, getting her to back off is another challenge I need to start at this time.

    -Steven Frischling

  3. There may be cases where businesses are unfairly maligned, but there are also lazy, incompetent people who are happy to take money for jobs they never finish. The clients who suffer have a right and duty to voice their complaints against people like Mr. Frischling.

    If he spent a fraction of the time on his business as he does spouting off on forums and websites, he would not have the reputation he does.

    I do not believe a rating of F by the BBB is false, considering he can't be bothered to respond to the BBB's inquiries either. Does that sound normal to you?

  4. I have been following the SF issue, first with your blog post, then through the sportsshooter site and ending with both the "Lying with Fish" blog and the SF counter blog "Expose the Bullies". Your comment that the stuff you write is stored for people to find is right on - every new item that comes up was pulled from some old server, and it is both amazing and frightening at the same time. While it is extremely fascinating I really do hope that what his opponents write about is true because otherwise it would be a horror that has been unleashed.

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