No matter how carefully you conduct your business and personal affairs, it is impossible to avoid disappointing someone from time to time. Expectations do not materialize as hoped for; rejection is aggressively countered.
There are more folks who know what’s going on inside your company than you realize. Many know things they are not supposed to know. Confidentialities are often improperly shared.
The principal sources of the adverse postings on various Internet facilities are disgruntled ex-employees, former customers, competitors, and the spurned lovers of almost anyone in your company who is engaging in potentially pernicious pillow talk.
They will appear on MySpace.com, Wikileaks.org, and elsewhere in industry blogs and company blogs.
Your first encounter with this experience will most likely be from some simply calling it to your attention (forwarding you the posting about your company) or from a call by someone from the press wishing to obtain a statement of your position on the matter. Your first reaction will be rage. Your second reaction will be the worst — you will call your lawyers and instruct them to put a stop to the adverse postings. They have probably never had any experience dealing with such events and, wanting to do all they can to make you feel better, they may follow your directive. Pity!
Your response to the first inquiry must be that you are not aware of the postings and therefore cannot possibly comment. Ask how you may find them so that you may know firsthand what is being said. Go there. Copy the postings and all follow-on comments.
If what is posted is indeed highly pernicious, engage a crisis specialist. The crisis specialist will ask you to gather all the information you have that relates to the subject matter of the postings, and to list everyone you believe may have been in a position to have been a source of a leak.
Do not become accusatory. You won’t know all the facts that you ought to take into consideration for a day or two — maybe longer.
The likelihood is that the postings will turn out to be less dangerous than you first thought, and you would do well not to engage in any response to them or to initiate any legal action. That will not always be the case, but it will most likely be the case. If you react in the heat of anger, you will give the adverse postings longer life and greater respect than they would have garnered if they had simply been ignored. The decision over what to do should be a competently advised decision.
You will, however, have to deal in some manner with the person(s) within your company who may have been involved. How you go about that will depend upon many factors. Among these are potentially the quality level at which you have been protecting confidential information. If that is the case, you must proceed with great care to avoid making matters worse. If the leak is indeed pillow talk, how you go about that is also a delicate process that has to be competently advised. Righteous indignation is absolutely the wrong way to approach this situation. High-minded morality gets more people in trouble than it helps.