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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Who Controls Your Online Reputation? You or Google?

Virtually every company encounters a potentially damaging story or expose that exceeds its control at a local,regional or national level. Following the immediate impact, there are two keys to remember for damage control:

  • Monitor the negative press.
  • Take an active role in the flow of information regarding your company.


Navigating through the negative noise during those pivotal moments of poor press can make or break your image and reputation. Prior to a press conference or debate, political advisors often remind their candidates to "control the dialogue", and the same emphasis applies to damage control.

As the company's spin doctor, one of your earliest priorities to remedy the negative press should be to monitor your search engine results on a daily basis, via  Google News and blog search engines like Technorati.
It's crucial to determine if clients and consumers are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when they search for your company name. If your positive side isn't immediately apparent, you could be the Titanic, headed for a cataclysmic disaster. Conversely, if you manage emerging media outlets (blogs) to counterbalance the negative results, you are Tom Cruise (picture crazy guy on Oprah's couch)- able to leap bad press (and couches) in a single bound, and continue on with your career.

One of the easisest and most efficient methods to manage the bad press is to keep your enemy close. Don't hesitate to tackle the issue directly and initiate dialogue with your critics. Sometimes your critics can become your best customers, just ask Steve Jobs.
Easy steps to confront the opposing side include:

  • Contributing to the public dialogue by posting comments on their blog(s)
  • Email, Twitter Direct Message, and dare I say, call them with a telephone (the thing you put up against your ear and speak with)
  • Posting a response on your own corporate blog (as early as possible to put your version of the story out there, hopefully the truth)
  • Being transparent. Sign up for an account on Get Satisfaction and actively participate in the open source support movement and commit company resources to this noble effort.


If your efforts to educate your critics don't evoke the desired response, assert yourself by taking secondary steps such as:

  • Optimizing your own site to enhance your positive image. Yes, we're talking about seo here and we know a few experts if you need one.
  • Updating your blog frequently, varies depending on the amount of change in your industry.
  • Utilizing pay per-click
  • Utilizing social network sites to advance your standing in the top results. Create accounts at popular sites such as Youtube, facebook, Flickr, Myspace, Digg, Reddit, wikipedia, slideshare.net, getsatisfaction.com, create an Amazon profile, wiki.answers.com, what'snext, and Twitter.
  • If applicable (varies based on size of your business) Create profiles on job sites such as: Hotjobs, Indeed.com, Monster and Careerbuilder.

Proactively monitor your company's status on Google using Google Alerts or use a third party application like trackur and monitor several search engines at once in a single interface including Yahoo, Google, Technorati, Bloglines, IceRocket and MSN. As each negative post eats away at your company's reputation like a parasite, it's important to ensure that you've thoroughly checked each area that could be open to potential damage.

Use the following list as a guideline for tracking the negative chatter. Of course modify the list to suit your needs.


Regardless of its character or background, no company is immune to damage from blogs and sites that distribute distorted facts and slanderous propoganda. The following list includes examples of companies which have successfully or unsuccessfully controlled search results from phrases which combine their company name with negative keywords.

    Examples of truth and fiction within search results:
  • True: Oracle layoffs- three of the top 10 google results contain negative remarks from former employees.
  • False: Voxeo has been falsely accused of electronic voting sabatoge.
  • True: Pure Weight Loss and LA weight loss- Was revealed as just another diet.
  • I Dunno: Mrs. Puerto Rico
  • Expedia Scam: There are a few upset folks out there.

 

By Jason Dowdell at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

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