Often referred to by the media as “a master shaper of reputations”, he has made a career out of promoting and protecting high profile athletes, celebrities and executives.
Simon got his career started in 1999 as a publicist for professional boxers. From the NFL to the NBA, from Formula 1 to UFC, from Forbes 500 executives to self-development gurus, he has worked with high profile individuals in most industries.
How did you get started in this business?
I started doing public relations for professional fighters. Some of these guys often found themselves in trouble, so a lot of my work became crisis management. As the company evolved, we started doing more internet-based work. That led to me founding Digital 86.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work?
I never doubted there was a market for my services. One constant with people is that they will always find a way to get into trouble. That’s why we have so many lawyers in the world. As most of people’s lives (and troubles) end up online, I knew this would be a good industry to be in. And now, many years later, it has proven to be true.
How did you get your first customer?
I asked people close to me if they’d be interested in improving their online image. Of course, they all said “yes”. I did some free work, provided results and from there it became all word-of-mouth.
What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I practice what I preach, so constantly working on my own firm’s online reputation is what works best for us. Potential clients look us up online and the results speak for themselves. But referrals are where most of our business comes from.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Declining investor is always tough. I am not opposed to having investors, but everything has to happen at the right time. It just wasn’t the right time and we can easily operate without raising funds, so I chose to hold off on it.
What is it that makes you successful?
Being accessible to my clients at all times is huge. Online crises can happen at any time – day or night – and they need to be dealt with quickly. Our clients know they can always find us, and that gives them peace of mind.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
We had a client who was wrongfully accused of a crime and his online presence was still suffering from the reports of his arrest. We were able to completely ‘clean’ the search results for his name, focusing on who he really was and all the good he had done in the world. Situations like that are always gratifying.
What does the future hold for your business?
We are expanding globally and that allows us to serve more people in more places. That really excites me.
What business book do you think would be useful to our readers?
48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is on top of the list. To me, the book is a no-holds-barred guide to how the world really works, not necessarily how we wish it would work.
How can our readers start improving their online reputation?
The easiest way is to secure the url to your name (i.e.: johnsmith.com) and create a website or blog. Next, be active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. These sites rank really high and you are able to control their content. With these simple – and inexpensive – steps you already control half of the first page of Google search for your name.