Killer Coke: Online Search PR Failures

Ian Lurie

For those who don’t know, Coca-Cola has been accused of hiring paramilitary death squads to keep labor unions out of their Columbia bottling plants.

The accusers have launched ‘’ and ‘’. If you search for [killer coke] on Google, or ‘coca cola columbia’, or just about anything else, one of these two sites are in the top 3.

Coca-Cola is nowhere to be seen, though, except for their standard ‘Official Coca-Cola Store’ ads.

What should Coca-Cola do? Here’s my list:

First, build a small issue site explaining your side of the story, what you’re doing to investigate, and what the press is saying about both sides of the story. Use a unique but branded domain.

Next, find the keywords folks use to find your site, the killercoke sites, and all related news.

Purchase pay-per-click ads for those keywords. Point those ads at the site you just built.

Send out at least one press release per week with a news update. Be sure that the release hits the online wires, such as Google News; be sure that they have a link to the issue site, too. Add those releases to the issue site.

Don’t discuss this issue on your main corporate site. Send folks to the issue site, instead.

Do link to the site from your main corporate site.

Do a Google sitemap, and a Yahoo sitemap.

Between the paid search buy and organic optimization Coke can get out their side of the story, too…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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