The web has made creating, sharing and finding information a doddle, but is arguably a double-edged sword. The open nature of the internet means it’s easy for negative or unflattering data to quickly eclipse factual or positive items. In the quest for relevancy, search engines are unrelenting in their pursuit of information, so it makes sense to put your best side first. This type of
Reputation management and you
Reputation management can be easily defined as finding out what’s being said about you online, reacting to this and then attempting to create a positive impression.
In years gone by, companies – especially those at the smaller end of the scale – could enjoy security through obscurity. Only the biggest and most influential of firms had to worry about their reputation being decimated by the press and maintaining an amicable picture of the brand.
However, the internet has changed all this and the rise of online reviews, comments sections and social media means bad news now travels near-instantaneously. Projecting and maintaining a favourable image has become exponentially harder, but fortunately, there’s a number of steps you can take to ease this process.
Listen and learn
The first step in reputation management is finding out the status of your online reputation (assuming you have one). New companies have a blank slate as far as this is concerned and can take control of their reputation from day one.
Tools like search and social media are invaluable for ascertaining what the perception of your brand is and considering steps to amend this to your advantage. It’s also worth taking a look at your competitors or other companies that fare well in this sphere and co-opting their ideas into your own reputation management campaign.
Like a highly-strung partner, your reputation will require regular (if not near-constant) maintenance.
By properly preparing your web presence, you can help to bolster the position of positive information in search rankings, forcing unfavourable reviews and press right down the page. This is no easy task, however, and if there’s persistently bad information being distributed about your company – the best you can hope for is balance.
Getting on top of things
Behaving in an ethical and transparent way is the only sure-fire way to address reputation management issues – but even then, bad news can still make its way to the surface. Once you identify a problem, you’ll need to react in a timely and efficient manner.
Creating a false impression in this day and age is nigh-impossible, so you’ll need to confront any bad news head-on. Make sure to tackle negative comments and disparaging reviews in a way that will endear you to other customers (although beware of persistent trolls).
Likewise, if you’ve been affected by a negative story in the press – take the initiative and promote your take on the issue to the media. Press releases and responses can really be a boon in this regard.
The Bottom Line
Reputation management is a never-ending battle, but by behaving in the right way and grappling with negative press – it’s one you can certainly keep on top of. Similarly, the wealth of low-cost tools now at your disposal means taking an integrated view in regard to your online presence is easier than ever before.
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