Reputation Management: How to Protect Your Brands

Brand Reputation Management - What it Is

The Importance of Brand Reputation Management (Post on Optimum7)

No matter how exceptional your company, products or services, if your online presence is weak your online reputation is at risk. There is no shortage of individuals who love to use controversy to generate traffic they can monetize or to make themselves feel more powerful – at your expense.

The fewer search engine listings (serps) you have now, the easier it is for bad publicity to affect your sales and reputation. Someone with very little real influence can dominate the serps for your company name – if you don’t have any coverage already there – leaving you to scramble for new content to reduce their influence.

Even the best people and companies will have detractors. The best defense is a strong offense! Make sure your company has multiple listings in the search engines for your company name, products, brands, makes and models, key personnel and your most important keyword phrases.

Existing listings insulate your from attacks by power-happy individuals with little influence and dilute the negative impact influential writers can have.

How important is your reputation? Read Why You Should Google Your Name Right Now for more reasons why this matters and what you can do about it.

You may find this Online Reputation Infographic created by Digimind which I first saw on Brand Strategist Wayne Sutton’s blog:

Digimind Online Reputation InfographicEvery brand – and that includes bloggers and consultants who accept clients – should have a reputation management plan. Here are some posts to get you started:

What if you still end up with a PR Nightmare on your hands? When a Reputation Management Crisis hits, don’t panic. First be sure to evaluate the actual influence the negative information has on its own.

CRITICAL: If THEY have little influence don’t hand them any of yours!

Many people who like to stir up controversy do not actually have many readers or followers. When that is true, DO NOT respond to them publicly, retweet what they have to say, or write about the issue. Do attempt to reply where they raised the issue – and do not be surprised if your replies never get approved or acknowledged.

Do monitor the situation so that is if becomes more widely public you can immediately respond, preferably on sites where you can control what happens to what you publish such as your blog. Be calm, clear and present your side of the story – there is ALWAYS more than one side.

Be polite and apologize if there is indeed a misunderstanding or any mistakes on your end. Do your best to resolve the situation. If the other side is not interested in a resolution, state your position including your attempts at resolution and stop participating in further discussions.

Carefully read anything new that pops up and lean towards NOT replying unless there is a very good reason to add additional details.  The less energy you add the sooner the problem will fade away. Focus on creating positive content. If the person who created the issue is very powerful you may even want to keep a lower profile than usual, but do what you can to get new search engine listings above them in the search engines.

If you have a strong positive reputation and many fans in the online community let them defend you. Bloggers can be beneficial friends to quality businesses, coming to their defense IF they deserve it.

Developing relationships between bloggers and businesses in specific niches and locations benefits them and the public too. Once you have those relationships (or know a blogger who does), you can quickly raise visibility for new projects, products or increase content roll-out to handle any PR challenges that arise.

Wise bloggers are very selective about linking to or writing about businesses and products. Businesses should be equally selective about choosing bloggers who have influence and are professional in their actions and what they write. New ways for measuring blog influence are being developed as are ways to identify Social Media Influence.

Research shows that Blog Influence On Consumer Purchases Surpasses Social Networks and that influence will grow as bloggers learn to geo-target specific niches. My prediction for 2011 is that blog outreach between businesses and bloggers will grow exponentially.

The fast path for businesses to connect with bloggers is to create relationships with bloggers like me. Because we spend so much time on Social Networks and collaborating with other bloggers we already know which bloggers write in which locations and niches and what types of businesses they would consider collaborating with versus which would never be a good fit.

Businesses are invited to contact me for referrals, additional information or answers.

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Gail Gardner

Small Businsss Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of GrowMap.com, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.