Mikah Sellers is a marketing executive with 10+ years experience at the intersection of marketing and technology. He currently serves as the Vice President of Marketing for Levick Strategic Communications, a leading public relations firm headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Prior to joining LEVICK he held a variety of marketing, leadership and consulting roles at ePartners and Doceus, where he worked on high-profile projects for Fortune 1000 and nonprofit clients including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Maggie Moos International, Schlotzskys, the Chamber of Commerce, and Magazine Publishers of America, to name a few. Mikah also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches in the Master of Professional Studies in the Technology Management program.
Mikah earned an M.B.A. and an M.A. in Communication Arts with a focus in advertising and public relations both with distinction at the New York Institute of Technology. Sellers also earned an M.S. in Internet Marketing at Full Sail University. He has also completed graduate coursework at Gonzaga University in organizational leadership, conflict resolution and human relations.
CiviliNation: You’re the Vice President of Marketing at LEVICK, a public relations firm located in Washington D.C. and New York City. Based on your experience, has technology increased the number and severity of reputational attacks against companies and organizations?
Mikah Sellers: Technology has made it far easier to attack someone with relative anonymity, and to inflict massive damage in a very short period of time. In the past, if you were the victim of an act of libel or slander it was pretty easy to track down the source and ultimately clear your name. Today a tweet goes global in seconds, blog posts are reposted, shared, liked, favorited in minutes. Content spreads virally so fast that it is virtually impossible to completely contain it even if you’re an expert in digital and social media.
CiviliNation: What is your response to people who claim that online reputational and privacy attacks against adults are rare and not something that most people need to worry about?
Mikah Sellers: They are living in a fantasy land. The relative anonymity that the Internet provides makes it easy for someone that is jealous, angry, or infatuated to create havoc in your life in a matter of moments. Repairing that damage could take years and cost a small fortune.
CiviliNation: Do you believe that social networking and other websites have any social or ethical responsibilities to help stem privacy violations and online attacks?
CiviliNation: Why do you think there is a frequent lack of understanding by law enforcement and the legal system about the depth and breadth of the problem of online attacks and cyber bullying against adults?
Mikah Sellers: The simple fact of the matter is that the law has not yet caught up with societal or technological changes. There is a real urgent need for the highest courts to review our laws and reflect on these new forms of media.
CiviliNation: What role do you believe the law should play in helping reduce online attacks and privacy violations?
Mikah Sellers: If there was less ambiguity around the laws governing online behavior and stricter enforcement of existing (or future) laws people would think twice about their actions. I also feel that our current system of laws does not account for cross-border issues; many reputational attacks have an international component to them in terms of prosecution. Once it is determined that something took place offshore prosecution becomes increasingly more complex if not impossible.
CiviliNation: What three recommendations would you give companies and people to help protect themselves online?
Mikah Sellers: First and foremost, set up some form of monitoring even if it’s just Google Alerts. If you’re attacked online respond after careful thought and consideration – never in the heat of the moment when you’re angry – always enlist a sounding board to make sure your response is measured. Put strategy before tactics – carefully plot out your strategy and supporting tactics and recruit third-party allies in advance. Be prepared before you launch any counter-offensive. Don’t fall into the trap of acting like your attacker. Calm, cool and collected wins the day.