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  • Online reputation management: Protecting an important commodity

    “But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him
    And makes me poor indeed.”

    So says Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello and, while he may be a villainous, lying, manipulative bad guy, he is right. Fail to protect your reputation and your new business levels will suffer.

    A good reputation has always been a precious business commodity but since the web changed the way the world does business, it has become even more vital and even harder to maintain.

    In the past, a company could survive a scandal simply through radio silence. The press was transitory, daily newspapers thrown away and forgotten within a few days. This has all been changed by the arrival of the World Wide Web.

    How so?

    Scandal, negative comment and bad publicity will all now possible last forever, accessible to anyone searching using the right words.

    If your scandal is particularly terrible and ends up being linked to and referenced by authoritative sources, you could see the story ranking in the first page of search results for your firm’s name, right alongside your own website, such as these results for Esso. It is easy to imagine the effects of that on a smaller company.

    But who?

    You do not have to be a mega corporation performing atrocious deeds of misery-making mayhem in order to be concerned about your online reputation.

    Negative comment can come from any number of places; bloggers with an issue with your sector, disgruntled former employees, bitter competitors or unhappy customers, to name just a few.

    It is important not to consider yourself too small or too ethical to need to worry about your reputation.

    So?

    So, in response to this, many companies have begun to consider online reputation management. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your web-based reputation is as clear of problems as possible.

    Consider reaction before taking action

    I know this is pretty obvious but this is a fairly important aspect of your online reputation. Prevention is always better than a cure. Consider how your actions will be interpreted by the web community and the blogosphere.

    Even if you are too small a company to come to the attention of the national press, the blogosphere may well pick up on corporate decisions you would rather keep quiet.

    The obvious answer is to remember your ethical position at all times and never do anything you would not happily put out a press release for but if this is not possible, read on!

    Prepare a response before acting

    If you need to take an action you think will not be well received in all quarters, prepare your response before you act.

    Putting forward the reasons behind a decision, or your side of the story as soon as possible is vital if you are to avoid being left at the mercy of less favourable commentators.

    Take the blogger by the horns

    If the press pick up on a negative story, they will more often than not invite you to make your defence or provide comment.

    However, bloggers are unlikely to proactively invite you to react. If a popular blogger comments negatively a corporate decision or action, it is sometimes worth getting in touch and asking if you can put forward your defence.

    If you ask politely, many people will happily provide a link on their blog to your defence, or perhaps publish your defence.

    Ensure you are optimised for search engines

    Make sure your online profile is as high as possible. If you do not rank on the first page of the results for at least your own name, searchers may not take your company as seriously as it deserves.

    Ranking well for relevant terms strengthens your seeming importance in the eyes of the searcher. Your brand needs to look authoritative and appearing at the bottom of page two for an important phrase simply does not!

    Become an authority

    Online reputation management should not just be protecting from and reacting to negative publicity. There are ways to develop your company’s position and strengthen its reputation.

    By blogging, networking and communicating with the press wherever appropriate, you can show yourself to the world as the expert you are.

    It is usually best for the company director or one specific person to develop this reputation.

    This allows the expert to be a positive marketing force, showing the company in an excellent light.

    It also puts the expert in a good position should a negative story ever break. They will have all the connections they need to get their side of the story out into the public eye as soon as possible.

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    5 Responses to “Online reputation management: Protecting an important commodity”

    1. Reuben says:

      I think this article brings up an issue that is indeed troublesome for quite a few individuals and businesses. Another possible remedy is to create more positive search results by opening profiles on free websites such as LookupPage, LinkedIn, Naymz, etc. These sites all excel at achieving high ranking on search results, which can help demote harmful ones from the first page.

    2. Ein Sack voll Links | Chaim says:

      [...] Online Reputations Management [...]

    3. Columb says:

      One bad comment can completley ruin years of hard work and for this reason I have decided not to link to my profile on free index and several other sites that let our clients write reviews on our services. Even our contact us form on our website gets abuse, not from clients but from people (maybe competitors lol) with nothing better to do . Ive had several replies with just a couple of swear words and nothing else.

      Always be very carefull when allowing the public to comment on your product/services.

    4. David says:

      Yes, some few harsh words can ruin your reputation among the customers. For example, if you wearing a white T-Shirt or Shirt and there is a black smudge at the front of your shirt then no one see that how shining your shirt is but the black smudge and it will not impress him for sure. Likewise negative comments or response can prevail over your company’s good reputation. But there are some tools which are helping us in ORM and i have tried one of these and its worth checking. The AirCheese. Its really good and helps me a lot.

    5. Damian Doman says:

      This is one of the most important things in online marketing, taking care of one’s reputation is crucial.
      Negative feedback always catches more attention than the positive feedback, even if the relation is 5% to 95%.
      However, if the marketing campaign is well-lead, a scandal may be useful. It has to be well-considered and if the company’s representative is a public person with a good reputation and can be the first to say the company’s side of the story, it’s even better for gaining popularity.

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