Reputation management: The importance of monitoring what the Internet says about your company
Most of us can recall a time when someone was talking about us behind our back. It certainly didn’t feel good to know that these conversations were happening or rumors were surfacing, and most of us felt helpless to shift the tide. Often, it took confronting those who seemed in conflict with us to clear the air, and even then, remnants of the initial sabotage lived on, regardless of whether it was true or not.
Today, as we live our lives in a digital era, those that wish to harm us (or a business or brand) will find few obstacles preventing them from accomplishing such a goal.
We ourselves may have experienced less than stellar customer service, had a poor dining experience or purchased defective products. Armed with our digital devices, many of us take to the Internet (Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Amazon, etc.) to share our negative feelings, while some go even further and fabricate bits and pieces to intensify their missives. The very personal nature and accessibility of social media tied to the weight placed on business web and social media presence, transparent communication and the overall necessity to respond leads to a need to manage reputations.
Reputation management incorporates efforts and campaigns to bury negative reviews, information or search results and promote content that positively accentuates a desired image.
Think of the various consumer review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor or even the review or testimonial pages of a business website. Each is an organic and dynamic environment filled to the brim with information about our businesses or ourselves. What business owners may not know is that consumer review sites do not allow businesses to remove negative or damaging reviews. Disgruntled employees, consumers or just your run-of-the-mill Internet trolls can wreak havoc in short order, which is why reputation management should become part of an overall communications program.
Reputation management can be condensed into three main tactics: repair, rebuild and recuperate:
Repair: Should you or your business require reputation remediation, the first step is to repair some of the damage. Given limitations of consumer review sites and the reach of the Internet, you should handle this in a concerted, thoughtful and aggressive manner.
Rebuild: Once initial fires are dampened, the next step is to rebuild reputation and further grow a brand or business reputation through various public relations vehicles (press, social media, blog, etc.).
Recuperate: Finally, to bury the negatives, brands and businesses need to optimize digital properties and reputation through SEO, regular response and constant monitoring.
If you are a business that believes its online reputation could use counsel, Axia Public Relations makes available an easily downloaded and free guide complete with tips on initiating a reputation management process on your own. But if your need seems well beyond a starting point, we encourage you to hire experienced PR pros to work with you to accelerate the process.
Wendy Bulawa Agudelo has more than 15 years of experience in technology, business, consumer and non-profit public relations. She regularly pens feature articles on parenting topics for Bay State Parent Magazine, serves on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force, is a culinary enthusiast and champion for the special needs community. Wendy has worked for Axia Public Relations since 2014.
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