SF-based Gas and Electric company PG&E gets ahead of their critics with defensive domain registrations

It’s becoming a more common practice and one that costs almost nothing – defensively registering domains that could be used to damage your brand online. Critics of companies or public figures frequently register domains like <company-name>crook.com, or <company-name>scam.com. Now, companies are getting ahead of this trend and registering the domains first.

Such is the case with California-based Gas and Electric company PG&E who has said it’s pretty likely they started a devastating fire in California last year. Now, bankrupt and under attack from many different angles, PG&E has started to defensively register domains to help protect their brand.

They include pgecrooks.com, pgefailure.com and pgeguilty.com. According to registration records provided by the website DomainTools, all three of those were created on Jan. 29 — the same day PG&E Corp. and subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. filed for bankruptcy protection because of their mounting wildfire liabilities.(Source – San Francisco Chronicle)

Along with domains containing the company name, PG&E also is trying to get ahead of other negative publicity like “chopgate” a term used to refer to concerns around tree removal around power lines. Trying to really get ahead of this one, PG&E registered around 30 domains with the word “chopgate” in it.

Of course, registering domains like this isn’t going to stop people from attacking a company, nor will it prevent all websites dedicated to covering it, but it does certainly prevent a pretty wide swath of domains, that would only be used to hurt a brand, off the market.

The big question I have is – given that a .NET, .ORG, .CO, .ME or really any other domain extension can rank just as well as .COM, are brands really protecting themselves that much when they just register .COMs like this? Should they be casting a wider net and registering domains in other extensions or is .COM all that matters in this case?

What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton