Since 2014, the number of publications about private investigations, security, intelligence and corporate due diligence services increased dramatically. I think we have doubled the number of daily articles on these issues during the last year. The same time I see steady decline in quality and value of publications shared by both market leaders and small local companies.

What is the reason of outstanding increase in promotion of these confidential services?
The answer is obvious – competition.

  • First, the world economy is not in its best condition. European, U.S. and Asian companies are cutting expenses, the number and total value of M&A deals are the lowest since 2008. The demand for corporate investigations, corporate security and debt collection (the last shows positive trend), cannot satisfy appetites of all players of the security/ intelligence/investigations market.
  • Second, and this is also a global trend – availability of previously confidential or hardly to accessible sources. Development of public records combined with intensive promotion of OSI capabilities attracted a lot of individuals with a civil background to this “new discovered” market. We should keep in mind that the crisis of 2008 left many advisers overboard and they had to search for alternatives. Experts with a background in marketing have deeper understanding of what should be done to attract new clients comparatively with a company, which is based on security/intelligence professionals only. These former marketing experts fight using the best instrument they have – aggressive PR of their services.
  • Third, this phenomenon has regional specific, inexpensive IT solutions partially supplement basic services of small and mid-sized companies: basic screening of contractors, formal compliance checks etc. are harder to promote and sell. Most articles on regular checks are about benefits of fresh investigations or new options of already existing/brand new IT solution.
  • With all the above it is clear why competition between providers of security/intelligence/investigations services has increased and why we see tons of articles promoting appropriate services.

    However, why competition lowers the quality of publications?

    The question is not as simple as it seems. Theoretically, completion between providers of professional services should have a positive influence both on price and on quality of services including the quality of client’s relations and PR.

    I think that the problem is partially on the side of the client.

    International corporations and top local companies are in common with resourceful and reputable providers of confidential and sensitive services. These clients are ready to communicate at the highest level of proficiency with almost every outsourcer or advisor and pay little attention to publications in open media – they have direct access to experts for “eye to eye” meetings and discussions. To the opposite, small and mid-size local companies often do not have even preliminary understanding of services they can purchase addressing private intelligence company or hiring private investigator.

    I think that the wish of numerous local private security and private investigations services providers to attract small and mid-size clients has created the need of educating articles and gave birth to numerous self-promoting and semi-professional publications.

    I have nothing against educating articles. My dad told me that teaching people we pass the hardest test of our own knowledge. What I stand against is so-called professional spam, which is often use simple patterns presented below.

    Pattern 1 – Obvious statements and self-promotion

    This type of publications covers up to 70% of all articles published on-line since mid-2014. I will provide you with a couple of funny parodies and I am sure you will recognize many publications you have probably seen these months:

    Why due diligence is important?
    – Every company has to make confident decisions in M&A projects.
    – Due diligence is prescribed by the law, you will have to spend your money anyway.
    – There’re many different types of due diligence: investigative, environmental, legal, financial, reputational even human due diligence. We don’t know what kind of due diligence you need, but you definitely need the type of due diligence we can offer.
    – Cheaters are everywhere especially abroad.

    5 simple steps towards compliance
    – Think about compliance
    – Respect the law, especially international laws you never heard about before
    – Compliance procedures are very important and in process of constant development. If you have full-time compliance manager and hired big-4 company several years ago to audit your business processes, there’s no guarantee that your company operates in compliance with numerous regulations indeed.
    – Ethics is important. Do you agree with me?
    – Admit that you need a professional to help you with your compliance program even if you donв«Єt understand a single word in this statement

    What’s behind corporate intelligence?
    Swimming in the black water of the deep web, intensively using all possibilities of the google search we can find your social media account and check your banking balance if only we can find your IP. We work strictly in compliance with the law and in close cooperation with state authorities. Why do you need us? Because the word “intelligence” sounds cool and we all know that I can’t tell you more in this short public article.

    Why I consider this type of publications as professional spam?

  • The author of self-promoting and trivial article shows disrespect to the potential client and to the professional market in general. It seems that he didn’t spend at least a day thinking about what he really has to share with the client/community
  • Clients start to believe that professional services are easy and cheap. These publications stimulates nothing but price competition, because they contain no real indicators of advantages/disadvantages of exact provider, expert, methodology or solution.
  • Even a cursory analysis shows that these articles bring nothing new to the client or to the professional community – “I write because I want to attract your attention to services of our company”
  • Professional spam spoils reputation of the security/intelligence market and in the near future it can have a negative influence on development and progress of private security, investigations and intelligence services.
  • Pattern 2 – Provocations

    The dirtiest and the easiest way to attract attention – well-known instrument of black-PR. Nothing stands behind provocations except the intention to make money or at least to promote personal or corporate brand.

    “We have unique IT system based on yet classified operating system (artificial intelligence) and this system will kick all our competitors, investigators and security managers off the market. It is cheap, effective and easy to use. Today we can’t show you the system but if you arrange a meeting we can present you the solution”

    “Nobody but former police officers can investigate white-collar crime. The man who didn’t serve in the police understands nothing in offshore operations and money laundering”
    Statements like this can attract negative attention of professional community and the author will become recognizable in a very short time.

    In this article I share with you the most terrifying and ugly sample of provocation in professional publications. It was published in Russian media several hours after November 2015 Paris attacks:

    “If only French police and special forces used my sources and methodology of social networks analysis they could predict and prevent the tragedy in Paris”.

    What is wrong with these publications?

  • Provocations mimicry valuable articles written for professional community and they often used as instruments of unfair competition. Some provocations are time-consuming because it is important to check if the information is genuine or not
  • Provocations are unethical by nature and can potentially harm reliable companies/experts or even ordinary people (as it is in the last sample)
  • Pattern 3 – Pseudo legal public disputes between professionals

    This pattern stands apart from previously presented types of professional spam в«Т targets of these articles are members of professional community.

    Usually publication of this type starts like almost every professional article: introduction of methodology, case studies etc., but the main idea of the publication is to claim all other or exact players of the market in inappropriate or illegal activity. These pseudo legal public disputes are quite popular among private detectives of Eastern Europe operating in so-called “grey sector of the law”. Often these disputes cover nothing else but self-promotion of claimants.

    In jurisdictions with weak regulations of private investigations, low level of income and high level of corruption there’s no reason to expect that in a day business practice will be changed by initiative of a single professional/company. Legalization of this market is a long termed strategy and there are leaders and outsiders in implementation of this strategy in every country. The law follows the tradition and always dreams of changing the way people behave. Business practice and the law have mutual influence and that is why in a real life changes take a lot of time.

    It is obvious that pseudo legal disputes will ever exist and we can do nothing to stop this type of black-PR, but anyway I think we should do what we can to limit this type of professional activity to the reasonable level.

    Summarizing this long publication, I’d like to attract attention of the professional community to the fact that competing in public we should pay additional attention to the quality of our publications. We are not the last generation of experts in private intelligence and security. It is our responsibility to save the image of these services for our successors and students. Short-termed gain is very important in hard times but it is not the reason to sell the reputation of the entire market for a song.

    Finally, a short note to the potential client who by chance come so far reading this article.
    If you think about hiring provider of security, intelligence or investigative services, professional spam is the last thing you should take into consideration.
    Whatever you think, this market is quite confidential and sensitive. There is a chance that the best and the most effective provider of the type of services that you really need doesnв«Єt promote himself in public and doesnв«Єt even have a web-site.