A couple of years ago, I had some brief conversations with JT Foxx and decided not to ghostwrite a book for him because of his attitude and approach to doing business. He’ll tell you it’s because I wouldn’t lower my professional fees to the level he could afford. Both are true.
But that’s not the point. Recently I was talking with someone else about the current players in the “get rich” and motivational industries, and JT Foxx’s name was mentioned. He and a couple of his senior managers have been sued by several former employees for sexual harassment.
Because I knew some of the people involved, I did a search on “JT Foxx lawsuit” – and what I saw was a truly clever reputation management strategy. There was one news release from the plaintiffs’ law firm outlining the details of the lawsuit. Here’s the clever part: There were multiple Foxx-sponsored pages announcing the Foxx organization’s efforts to teach small businesses how to avoid being extorted by frivolous lawsuits.
On those pages, he never mentions the specific lawsuit that charges JT Foxx personally with attempting to initiate a sexual relationship with a high school student (the suit was filed by the girl’s father) who had signed up for a $35,000 coaching program. Nor does he mention allegations of sexual, racial and religious harassment from multiple former employees.
This is an absolutely brilliant reputation management strategy: Flood the internet with websites and blogs that are optimized for the keyword phrases that people are likely to be searching on when looking for something negative, yet make the information those pages contain positive.
I’m not commenting on the merits of the lawsuit. I’ve only talked with JT Foxx on the phone and exchanged emails with him; I’ve never met him in person. While I found his approach to negotiating insulting, it didn’t rise to the level of harassment. But whether you are a JT Foxx supporter, detractor or you’ve never heard of him and don’t care anything about him, there’s a lesson to be learned from what he’s done.
What do you think? Join the conversation below.
Update 11/5/13: Because of JT Foxx’s threats of litigation, I have removed portions of the comments posted to this blog. The full story of how I came to write this blog and its incredible fallout can be found in my ebook JT Foxx: Complaints, Lawsuit Threats and Lies, available on Amazon.
Update: Since this blog was originally posted, additional items are coming up on Google searches for “JT Foxx lawsuit,” including this one from Courthouse News Service. Still, Foxx’s own sites continue to dominate the search results.
Also, Foxx’s “SEO team” is leaving spam comments on this blog, linking back to various Foxx sites such as JT Foxx Coaching and JT Foxx Success. I will not allow those comments with their spammy back-links to go live.
Update April 21, 2013: I have posted a new article, “JT Foxx, Lawsuits, Reputation Management and Bloggers” addressing how to handle the issue of negative comments on blogs.
Update: Please limit your comments to SEO/ORM strategies.
Update: If you have posted a comment recently and it has not appeared, it is because I am holding all comments since JT Foxx threatened to sue me.
Update: At the suggestion of Foxx’s attorney, I have published the full content of his correspondence.
Update: One of the sexual harassment lawsuits against JT Foxx has been settled.