How to defend, protect and manage your reputation and your brand
Even the best brands have instances where a client is not pleased with the product or service. A good corporate communications policy should probably include time and energy invested in online reputation management before you have a problem.
Even the best brands have unfortunate instances where a client or customer is not pleased with the product or service. And, it doesn't matter what you say or do, you just might not be able to satisfy everybody all the time.
The power of the Internet creates a double-edged sword for public relations. Good news travels fast while bad news seems to travel even faster. Indeed, a happy client may tell two or three of her friends while a disgruntled client will broadcast their grievances to the world.
If you are a public figure or have a high public profile then you tend to attract even more scrutiny.
So, a good corporate communications policy should probably also include time and energy invested in online reputation management before you have a problem.
The ultimate goal is to "Own the first page of Google," for the search terms that relate to you, your company and your brand. This way, you control the messaging.
Having helped a dozen or so clients with their own reputation management, I have developed a list of steps that people might consider using:
For starters, determine the keywords or important search terms that you are trying to protect and defend. This could be your name, company, product or brand.
Next, I would create social media profiles in high-visibility and high-ranking websites like Biznik.com. Others would be Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Crunchbase, etc.
If you have false, misleading, malicious, slandeous, libelous or defamatory remarks online that you are trying to combat, try contacting the webmaster of that site and ask them (politely) to take it down. Don't threaten legal action - it only makes them dig in.
Take legal action - don't threaten, just do it. Seek a restraining order to cease and desist. This only works if you can prove libel, "a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person." Also, the restraining order must have legal jurisdiction. You can't, for example, force somebody in another country to actually take down content.
Create a series of photos and videos of yourself, product or brand. Name the files using the keywords of your brand. If you can figure it out, go into the File > Properties > Details of the photo and video and include the keywords of your brand within the file. Now, upload these media assets across your social media profiles.
Create a series of blogs on free blog platforms such as blogger, blogspot, wordpress and a plethora of others. Name the blogs after your brand, include brand information, upload those photos and videos, cross-link to your other online properties and add some unique information so that the content is not a duplicate of another web page or site.
If you have the opportunity to tag your blog posts, be sure to use those keywords identified above.
Do some old fashion public relations work where you submit press releases to the wire and/or gather a team of bloggers. See if you can inspire them to write about you or feature you in an upcoming story or blog post. Most importantly ask them to link to your Official website(s) and social media profiles. You can find journalists, writers and bloggers on sites like Biznik, Craigslist, SEOQ, Elance, oDesk, etc.
Keep track of the positive things written or blogged about you, your company and your brand and reinforce these articles and blog posts by Tweeting them, bookmarking them on sites like Delicious, sharing links to them on Facebook, etc.
I have found that I can knock out these 10 items over a period of 3 working days and the results will last months, if not years. It will be pretty hard for negative content to displace you, particularly if you continue to feed your blogs and social media profiles with content and seek legitimate inbound links, references and citations from independent authors, journalists and bloggers.
Good luck and please give me your feedback if I've missed anything or if you have tried any of these techniques and have observations to make.
Posted by Carl Larson, Seattle, Washington | Jul 28, 2010
Great article! Very sensible, practical action items. However, mainly geared towards regular organic SEO. Most of my small business clients are concerned about their reviews on the main IYPs that feed Google Places - IYPs like Yelp, Citysearch, Merchant Circle, Dex, etc. Any good suggestions for this? (Beyond, of course, advising the client to have happy clients go there to review them, which can be awfully slow)
In addition, any advice on a good tool to check a client's online rep? Am using UBL StepRep, Chatmeter & others but am unimpressed so far.
Thanks for putting this article up! And maybe you could see if Obama needs any SEO consulting? My prices are very reasonable :-)