Alex Simon, a longtime public relations executive, is the CEO and Founder of Digital 86. Simon is also known as The Digital Fixer.
Often referred to by the media as “a master shaper of online 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. He later expanded his services to work with racecar drivers and, eventually, famous entertainers and high profile executives.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start 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 the founding of Digital 86
How do you make money?
Clients pay us to make them look good online. Whether it is by suppressing negative things about them or by simply promoting all the good they do, everyone who works with us wants to have a positive online presence.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
We were profitable from the very first month in business.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
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.
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 (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I practice what I preach, so constantly working on our firm’s online reputation is what works best for us. Potential clients look us up online and the results speak for themselves.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Declining investor money was a tough one. 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 do you think it is that makes you successful?
Being accessible to my clients at all times makes a huge difference. Online crisis can happen at any time – day or night – and it needs 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. That was gratifying.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
We are expanding globally and that allows us to serve more people in more places. That really excites me.
What business books have inspired you?
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.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
This one’s easy. Buying extra phone charge cords for all my staff. If we are to be available to our clients at all times, there’s no excuse for a cell phone running out of battery. Plus, it didn’t ‘break the bank’.
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, 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.