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Privacy Matters

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NAME:Allan Dunlavy
It’s time to think about the positive opportunities that can emerge from the ever-evolving domains of online privacy, reputation and digital resilience rather than the negative outcomes, says Schillings Partner Allan Dunlavy.

Businesses and executives, listen up. There’s a new asset portfolio to have on your radar: your digital asset portfolio. “This could include your corporate website and individual websites that senior leaders may have, LinkedIn profiles, Wikipedia pages, compliance profiles, social media, everything that’s online,” explains Allan Dunlavy, Partner at law firm Schillings. “Each item is an asset and it’s all interconnected between brand, employees, senior leadership and what’s happening in the world.”

And, just as you build, manage and invest in a financial asset portfolio to achieve goals, your digital asset portfolio should be harnessed in the same way. “If a company and its leadership spend time building digital resilience, then it really enhances both the company and the individual; whether that’s around recruitment or retention, branding, ESG goals or, of course, financial metrics,” Allan explains.

Be Prepared

As a specialist in online privacy, reputation and digital resilience, Allan’s advice is to be noted. Especially in this era where anyone can post anything online, with few ramifications for any damage it may cause in the blink of an eye. “It’s really about leaning into your values, taking advantage of opportunities, and ensuring that truth and factual accuracy prevails and enhances all parts of the business,” he says. Then, if a crisis does appear, you’ll have a resilient profile already in place. “It’s not something you can build in the middle of an emergency,” he cautions.

For Allan, your company’s – or your own, just as importantly – online portfolio is the shop window or business card for the 21st century. “We google businesses and people before we go into meetings now, which allows us to look into each other in a way that we couldn’t in the past,” he says.

It’s really about leaning into your values, taking advantage of opportunities, and ensuring that truth and factual accuracy prevails and enhances all parts of the business.

It’s also no longer enough to simply refrain from an online presence, either. “Today people expect you to have a profile, and if they don’t find one it can raise as many red flags as negative publicity does,” he says. “And, if something does happen, it ends up being the only information out there.” After all, he adds, the reality is that there’s probably going to be news about you online that you didn’t write, which makes a well-tended, well-maintained profile the best way to be in control of your narrative.

For an array of big-name public and private companies, global corporates, not-for-profits, high-profile individuals and governments, Schillings is the only name they trust to advise and guide them through issues relating to reputation, privacy and security in our ever-changing digital landscape.

Game-changer Growth

The UK-based legal business founded by Keith Schilling in 1984 has grown into what Allan describes as a “game-changing multidisciplinary firm”. The transformation has accelerated over the last 10–15 years in particular. “We’ve gone from being a top-rank defamation, reputation and privacy legal firm to now having an in-house intelligence and investigations practice, a digital communications division and a critical risk, security and advisory team as well,” he says.

Allan, who knew he wanted to be a lawyer from a very young age, realised early on in his career that reputation, privacy and security were fundamental assets for everyone – not just celebrities or high-net-worth individuals – to live a fulfilling life. He spent his early years in the profession as a media lawyer dealing with the print press, before joining Schillings in 2009. He became a partner in 2017.

Don’t wait for the crisis. Get your house in order now.

He believes we’re at a point where a firm’s corporate clients and senior leadership team are recognising not only that reputation management and privacy concerns affect both the company and its C-suite leaders, but that, crucially, the two are interconnected. “The company’s reputation really reflects on all its people, so to recruit and retain staff you have to build a corporate image that people want to be associated with,” he says.

And while the topic can appear a daunting one, Allan sees only the advantages. “Don’t think about digital resilience in negative terms,” he says. “It’s more about accessing and increasing positive opportunities.” But he’s quick to encourage concrete actions. “Don’t wait for the crisis. Get your house in order now. The corporate and personal profiles need to align and complement each other,” he says.

His last tip? Think beyond the first page of Google. “There are loads of other digital assets out there beyond that first page of search listings,” he says. “It’s crucial that clients think past that to maximise the opportunities that building digital resilience can present.”

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