Online Reputation Management, Are you doing it?

This issue is becoming increasingly important to both large and small businesses. Certainly to governments and increasingly even to non-profit organizations. It can increase exposure when it hits the media, both positively and negatively. It can enhance or hurt your brand. A number of companies offer monitoring solutions though few help beyond monitoring with advice. It’s not just finding out the commentary, it’s knowing what to do with it. Here, we scratch the surface of this issue.

I’ve encountered reputation issues both positive and negative. I’ve also found both positive and negative commentaries across ALL industries and sectors. Even a plumbing supply company that suffered. Some companies have very positive coverage and end up with brand evangelists. So what can you do? How do you address this issue?

It’s important to note that most issues surrounding online reputation management fall out of social media sites on the Web (blogs, video blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace etc.) and rarely come from traditional media. PR agencies are well geared to deal with traditional media, but few understand how to work with social media, since the pshychology of people participating in social media applications takes a strange twist from the “real world.” My experience has shown that your marketing and communications people should be monitoring the Web and have a plan for response. Similar to how a company will have a Crisis Management plan in place for negative media coverage.

Dealing with negative information on the Web however, is a little more different. It is also more permanent in nature. A careful line has to be drawn with how much you push to manage the message. You can no longer control the message, but you can manage it. You should have a plan in place to have a response team or find an agency that has not just real-world PR experience, but Web communications experience and vice versa.

You can monitor yourself through tag cloud engines and by checking regular bloggers you know cover you, but a more effective route is to engage a company that has a software application to do broader and deeper searches. Make sure this company also has the ability to help you manage situations, otherwise you’ve only solved half the problem.

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