Interview With Wes Upchurch, Founder of SearchResults.repair
Today, we’re talking to Wes Upchurch of SearchResults.repair. SearchResults is an online reputation repair company that helps those previously convicted of criminal offenses restore their reputation online, so that they can gain meaningful employment and make a positive impact in their communities. Wesley’s company works to establish its clients as experts in their fields, while removing any trace of criminal history. He combines public relations, search engine optimization, and content marketing to re-brand convicts as professionals, giving them a second chance at life.
HI WES, THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH US. WE WANTED TO ASK, WHAT MADE YOU SPECIFICALLY DECIDE TO DO REPUTATION REPAIR FOR FORMER CRIMINALS?
Well, first I’d like to start off by saying that just because someone has a criminal record, it doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Actually, most of our clients are executives and professionals. Maybe they made a mistake in the past or filled out some paperwork incorrectly exposing them to criminal liability, but that shouldn’t take away from all the good that they’ve done for society. Many of our clients have founded companies, employed people, and care for families. Our legal system has a lot of issues. But those ongoing consequences can have detrimental effects for years to come. So even after someone has paid the price for their transgressions, they often face discrimination and ongoing judgment for their actions. This is what I decided to change.
SearchResults.repair was founded on the idea that that one should not forever be defined by their past choices. What they are doing now matters more. If a person is qualified to do a job and motivated to succeed in their role, they shouldn’t be denied simply because of a past mistake. Yet, a criminal conviction often means that records of their arrest are published online. The kinds of services that seek to prevent a person from becoming employed on the basis of a past criminal offense often work against minorities who experience criminal convictions at a much higher rate than whites. It’s my belief that we shouldn’t use criminal records as a way of denying opportunities. Not only is it often just veiled discrimination, but it also serves the opposite effect that it intends. Instead of preventing crime in the workplace, it often forces ex-offenders to turn to illegal employment.
For me, this was important. I want every person to have equal opportunity to find gainful employment. Because of my own past, I was often denied opportunities. I knew there were others in the same situation. Because I had the skills to do something about it, I did. It’s not that I decided to go into this business. People would come to me asking me to clean up their personal brand, just as I would do for businesses. So it just sort of happened. There was a need to be met, and no one else is meeting it.
HOW DOES ONE REPAIR THEIR REPUTATION AFTER A CRIMINAL CONVICTION?
By reputation, we mean what other people are able to readily discover through a simple Google Search. Unless they share the name of a famous celebrity, after a conviction many people will find that searching for their name brings up results that detail their criminal records and activity, often without providing any context or background. This is because news sites publish stories about arrests, almost always verbatim from government press releases. They rarely retract any of it, even when the vast majority of criminal charges are dismissed or unproven at trial. We work to remove those stories, correct factional inaccuracies, and hide them by creating new content that outranks it.
A person can often reduce the impact of negative information appearing in the search results by creating a positive record of what they are doing now through social media, by publishing articles in their industry, and creating content. But because it can take hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to produce enough authoritative content to compete with existing articles in the search results, they’ll often turn to us. We leverage our existing relationships with competing media outlets, websites, and content producers to create content that ranks hire. The end result is that when someone searches for one of our clients they’ll find a record of professional accomplishment and personal information instead of criminal information.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO SAYS THE PUBLIC HAS A RIGHT TO THIS INFORMATION?
That’s bullshit. Just as nobody has a right to know where you were on August 25th of 2012, they don’t have a right to know where my client was. The fact that he was incarcerated then has zero relevance to whether or not he is capable of doing a specific job today.
People who have served their time and paid their debt to society should not continue to have their past used against them. The ongoing publication of criminal records actually leads to higher recidivism rates by making it harder for people with prior criminal history to gain lawful employment. If one can’t find lawful work, he’ll have no choice but to return to unlawful means of providing for himself.
Without my service, the current system effectively takes a five-year sentence and turns it into a lifelong one. The people we work with are committed to living as positive members of society. Otherwise, why bother investing in a better reputation? Someone who desires to return to a life of crime probably isn’t worried about their criminal record.
WHAT SERVICES DO YOU ACTUALLY OFFER TO YOUR CLIENTS THAT WORK TO REPAIR ONLINE REPUTATION?
Our service are comprehensive, in that it includes nearly every aspect of reputation management that one should expect from a reputation repair firm. This means we do all of the content creation, distribution, and removals that one needs to clean up their online search results. The exact services rendered for each client depends on their individual needs and requirements. In some cases, we’ve written entire books for clients, to give us something to point to that establishes them as experts in their field. We do whatever it takes to create a new image, including conducting interviews for our clients, booking them for appearances to shows. There’s really no limit to how far we will go to brand our clients as professionals. For a typical reputation repair campaign, we handle social media count registration and branding, online video creation, and write professional biographies that appear on sites across the web. We’ll also do guest blogging, issue press releases, write articles, and delete criminal records from dozens of websites. We build personal or portfolio websites and do so much more. Everything we work on gets put into a comprehensive report and is provided to our clients so that even when we are done, they can continue to build their authority. We’re basically a one-stop-shop.
HAVE YOU EVER TURNED DOWN A CLIENT?
Yes, there are some people we’d just prefer not to work with. Our ideal client is someone who has a criminal past but is dedicated to turning their life around. I’ve worked with those convicted of a whole variety of offenses, including white-collar crime and drug offenses, but if they indicate interest in continuing a life of crime, there isn’t much I can do for them. They’ll eventually get caught again and then negative news stories will resurface. So, we aren’t going to waste our efforts on a client that doesn’t have a genuine desire to live an honorable life. And there are some people that I refuse to help, like those convicted of sexual offenses against a child. I’ve got my own child as do most of my employees. The idea of hiding information like that just doesn’t sit well with me, so I won’t. Those people don’t belong online, they belong in the wood chipper.
I COULDN’T AGREE MORE. SO, WHERE CAN SOMEONE GO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR COMPANY AND IT’S SERVICES?
They should check out, SearchResults.repair. There one can learn more about our services and company. They’ll also find advice and tips for improving their reputation on their own. Even for those who haven’t been convicted of a crime, this is useful information. The same techniques can be used for online business and personal branding. And of course, we are on all your favorite social networks. So, don’t be afraid to add, follow, and like us. We’re happy to answer help and answer any other questions one may have.