Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is largely considered to be a mix of marketing (including SEO) and public relations.  Although there are numerous firms offering online reputation management services, you can do it on your own for free.  In the simplest terms, online reputation management is the process of following online references to a company, person or service while having a plan in place to deal with negative feedback.

There are three basic steps in online reputation management.  They do not necessarily go in the following order however:  Act, evaluate, and monitor.  Actions to take would be commenting, rebutting, drafting a formal response, or you could ignore the negative feedback if you do not deem it worthy of  a response.  Evaluate the individual feedback and the source, outlet, timing and come to a decision about the risks involved.  Monitor to maintain an ongoing system of researching and keeping track of the public perception.

It might seem that online reputation management is a needless hassle, however all professionals, especially those that do business online, can be subject to bad reputation.  All it takes is a single negative comment or blog mixed in with the right amount of traffic to drive your reputation into the ground.  If you are not yet doing online reputation management, it is time to start.

Whether or not you realize it or not you are adding to your reputation with every relationship you form. You can enhance your positive image by doing great work and being customer oriented.  Make yourself approachable to your customers.  Work well with the other people, teams and businesses in your industry.  Do not be afraid to form personal relationships.

Even when you do everything right though there may come a time when you face negative publicity.  The old saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” couldn’t be more wrong.  Negative feedback in most cases will affect your business negatively.  There are many and varied reasons for negative feed back.  Perhaps you have had a misunderstanding or an accidental wrong doing on your part, even different view points which can lead to misunderstandings.  In most cases you will want to react to negative feed back.  How you do so depends on the type of comment and who said it, where it was said and what possible effects it can have on your business.

Being human your initial reaction to negative feed back could likely be anger.  There is nothing you can do to your reputation that is worse than responding quickly out of anger.  Give yourself time to process the feedback and cool down so as not to make the situation worse.  It is advisable to ask a friend or colleague for their honest input on the situation also.  They may see logic when you fail to see it initially.

Once you are ready to face the negative feed back ask yourself if the comment is true.   Can you see how the person could possibly view your actions in that way?  Did you do something that was misunderstood?  Are you in the wrong?  By taking time to be honest with yourself about the situation you can avoid doing further damage to your reputation, and handle the feedback in a way that has a positive impact upon your business.