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Reputation Management 101: For Businesses, Individuals, and Brands

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reputation-managementOver the last week we’ve talked about reputation management for your business and for yourself. We’ve discussed reputation management as a strategy to combat libelous accusations. We’ve talked about reputation management as a response to bad reviews. We’ve even talked about ORM as a strategy for protecting your brand.

What I’d like to discuss today is something different: how reputation management should be an integral part of both your proactive and reactive PR strategies.

Whether you’re a business or an individual, online reputation management (ORM) should be one of the top three priorities of your marketing team. Despite the huge cost of a bad review or a nasty press piece, many companies mistakenly think of reputation management as a responsive method of fighting PR disasters.

The truth is that reputation management is far more effective as a proactive method of fighting bad press than as a reaction to it. I’d like to share two concepts that I have hinted on in previous posts that could help you with your ORM efforts.

Reputation Management Through ‘Owning Your Search Results’

When people search for your company’s name, what do they see? If you’re smart, they should see a page of ten search engine results, all of which you control either directly or indirectly.

One of the most effective ways to fight bad reviews and snarky coverage is to ‘own’ your first page search results. I’ve already discussed using YouTube videos for ORM, but today let’s look at something far more powerful: using social media to craft your search engine results into something that benefits, not damages, your image.

Whenever a potential customer searches for your company, they should see several pages – both pages on your own server, and social media profiles – in their results. I like the following services, as they’re valuable for both ORM and direct marketing:

  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Does your company have all of the above social media profiles? If not, adding them to your list of marketing channels can serve a dual purpose: eliminating bad results from the search engine result pages and attracting new users to your business.

Whether your company’s bad press is in the form of blog posts or ‘scam report’ type websites, it’s unlikely to stick when you control your front page with social media. A single social media profile is often enough to push an undesirable result from the first page of Google’s search results into second or third-page obscurity.

Reputation Management as a Response to Internal Mistakes

All businesses make mistakes. From Apple’s infamous mapping issues to McDonald’s disastrous Twitter campaign, even the most well oiled machine can fail to live up to its expectations. What separates smart businesses from ORM failures is their ability to turn a potential PR disaster into an opportunity for improvement.

A long time ago, I read about a new sports supplement company that had mixed up its first orders and sent the wrong products to the wrong people. They faced a flood of negative feedback on fitness forums and personal blogs – definitely not the type of content that most businesses want to see clogging up their search results.

Instead of fighting against the negative coverage with a reactive ORM campaign, the supplement company took a hands-on approach: it apologized to the customers, told them exactly what had gone wrong, and sent out the correct orders, along with some fantastic free gifts, in order to win over their affections.

The end result: revised blog posts, a flood of positive reviews, and a group of loyal customers that were happy to buy from a company that owned up to its mistakes, reached out to its customers, and showed its human side.

One of the toughest parts of controlling your brand is dealing with unhappy people that think of you as an impenetrable corporate ‘black box,’ Let them know that you are human and that you’re aware of your mistakes, and you can turn a reputation management disaster into an opportunity to improve your brand.

Like Grace Hopper, the pioneering computer scientist, said: “it’s far better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission,’ While owning your search results should be your first line of ORM defense, the second should be a genuine effort to rebuild the customer or client relationships that previously came to an unfortunate end.

If you are interested in learning more about online reputation management for your personal brand or your business, contact BlissDrive at 949-229-3454. We work with a number of individuals and small businesses on comprehensive ORM campaigns.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wiertz/6776802972/