5 Ways to Prevent a Reputational Disaster

Lots of brands are finding out the hard way that there are plenty of conversations taking place about them online. For good or bad.

Many brands choose to ignore this. But hope is not a strategy.

Since consumers rely heavily on the Web as an authoritative source of information, managing a brand’s online reputation has become a top priority for companies. Here are 5 tips that could help you avoid a major disaster and reduce the risk of a flogging in the blogosphere.

Tip 1: Monitor the New Conversational Terrain

You have to be listening. As Woody Allen said, “half of the battle is just showing up.” Create a custom feed based on keyword searches using tools like Technorati, Feedster, IceRocket and news.googlecom.

Tip 2: Measure

Agencies like Nielsen BuzzMetrics and TNS Cymfony (trackback to a podcast on how to measure the blogosphere) have more advanced tools for monitoring social networks, blogs and communities. They also can measure the volume of buzz, track the sources and gauge the emotion of the content, be it positive, negative or just sarcastic.

Tip 3: Engage

If you don’t join the conversation, you have no control. We’ll say it again: hope is not a strategy. Tools like BuzzLogic can give you a picture of a blogger, as well as the influencers that surround any given blog. Also sites like BlogInluence.net and SocialMeter.com can provide a snapshot of any blogger’s street cred.

Tip 4: Buy Keywords?

Yes. If you do end up with a firestorm surrounding your company or brand, why not buy keywords and get your story told? Jim Nail from Cymfony says “for a company to protect its brand, they should be buying keywords.” Consider Wal-Mart as the classic example. “Wal-Mart Sucks” yields negative results for the first 10 listings. So why not own those keywords as paid links to sites that put Wal-Mart in perspective, covering, among other things, the company’s substantial economic benefits to society?

Tip 5: Use PR to Strengthen Your Digital Footprint

Another obvious tactic would be to issue a series of press statements to address whatever the concerns are, and optimize them for the Web. Consider using a press release distribution company such as PRWeb, which sends releases to journalists’ email boxes and makes them Web ready. This will help increase the rankings in news engines such as Google News, as well as in the general search results. When a press release ranks high in a search engine, it’s just one more spot a negative listing won’t appear!

BONUS – why not take my Reputation Management for New Media survey which will give you a sense of how ready your organization is for a reputation disaster? If you leave me your email I will send the results back to you in about a month.

5 comments to 5 Ways to Prevent a Reputational Disaster

  • Pat McClellan

    Hey Paul, nice post. The challenge a lot of big brands face when entering the blogosphere is finding their authentic voice — which is vital to establishing any kind of credibility on blogs. When that voice is left to the PR/Corporate communication team, too often the result can be sterile. Corps need to look back that their brand attributes chart in that ppt that the brand agency did for them (years ago?) That probably had something in it about the “voice of the brand”. Now you have to match that with a real person who can speak for you online.

    I think Wal-mart has done a reasonable effort at this with http://www.checkoutblog.com.

  • Paul Dunay

    Great point Pat on the sometimes sterile nature of blogs

    All those attributes that the brand agency worked on really need to shine if you expect to move the needle

  • jbeaul

    Thank you for recommending PRWeb as part of a reputation management strategy. It is something we have been recommending ourselves as a low cost, minimal effort element to a successful strategy.

    Regards,

    Joe Beaulaurier
    PRWeb

  • Dan Neely

    Great post here Paul. The new launch of Trackur.com helps in this space when it comes to measurement. while it does not allow you to aggregate the information and understand true sentiment and engagement it is a quick hit tool.

    Dan

  • Paul Dunay

    Dan

    Its funny you mention Trackur – I created a deal with Trackur to help me get responses for the survey and publicize them on the results we circulate from the survey

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