PR Tactics That Affect Online Reputation Management

February 14, 2009

reputationmanagementtracksIt seems almost every day the public, therefore the media, is obsessed with new revelations of celebrities, sports figures, investment bankers, politicians, or companies (“brands”) seemingly self-destructing before our eyes.

Some, as in the case of Bernard Madoff, are well deserved. Others, be they Alex Rodriguez or Michael Phelps, leave open many channels for posturing, spin, and personal opinion. And, of course, these last couple of weeks, the political landscape is covered with fallen bodies, mixed messages, and “mistakes”.

How many times have we actually heard the word “mistake” uttered on air or in the media in the last thirty days? Countless! We see and learn what we already know. That no one is perfect or infallible, we can and will make mistakes, and depending on the circumstances and personalities, or victimization, if any, we can survive and continue to prosper even in the face of “mistakes” that, at first, seem insurmountable in the maintenance of our reputations, both online and offline.

In the world of online reputation management, if you have been targeted, rightly or wrongly, there are some very real PR tactics you should deploy to enter the conversation to insure your online reputation is not only protected, but to convey the message(s) you want heard that will rise above the “noise” and chatter that may be designed to put you in a negative light. There always seems to be a purposeful agenda, here are some steps you can take to tell your story the way you want it publicly consumed.

Firstly, understand that your approach to online reputation management in a digital world must be “holistic“. It’s about optimizing the sum of all the parts. Some of the parts, you ask? Sure…how about:

  • Press releases
  • Letters to the editor(s)
  • Online newsrooms
  • Blogs
  • Media kits
  • Webinars
  • Newsletters
  • Real world interviews
  • Podcasts / Internet radio

Make it easy for consumers and journalists alike to find your message on the channels and in the format they prefer. Strategically speaking, we rely today on search and social media. It starts online as the Internet is no longer just an add-on for issues affecting reputation or your product. Globally, more than 1 Billion people are online, with over 185 Million here in the U.S. Americans now view the Internet as their most important and trusted source for news and information, consuming more online content than radio, print, and television combined. Opinion leaders are influenced by the Internet more than any other medium.

So, what matters when people search? For improving positive visibility, use query-specific landing pages that are properly coded with meta data and content for the search engines that are targeted to specific keywords inputted by the searchers. The content needs to be opportunistically “linked” to your web wire press releases. It’s not uncommon for us to create new domain names, use both copywriting and web skills to upload new content to these domains, and create a web of links positioning these pages in the top results of Google and other search engines, and, where necessary, pushing down any negative pages from appearing in the top position SERPs. Depending on factors such as page rank and site authority, will have a determination on the time involved for the search engines to display the positive results, and visibility, in, let’s say, the first 10 to 20 positions.

What else matters online? 75% are accessing multi-media, primarily video, online. Web 2.0 sites, social networks, and certain blogs will influence key opinion leaders and the public. It’s not that bloggers have power, generally they do not, they have influence. And here again, as it relates to Web 2.0, one has to tread carefully.

Facebook, for example, is a wonderful property, but it can also be a minefield booby-trapped by enemies seeking to further implode your reputation or, worse yet, steal identities in an effort to perpetrate scams to steal identities or victimize families and friends. In some cases, customer service for certain Web 2.0 sites is non-existent. For this reason, and others, if you are in need of online reputation management, it is always best to engage professionals to help navigate this landscape.

Your own press releases and blogs can also become “influencers” because those pages will “feed” mainstream media sites and other bloggers as a result of crosslinking and embedded keyword hyperlinking tactics. Technorati, Digg, Stumbleupon, etc., will re-aggregate your content for even more web visibility. These tactics work very well in getting your story out there or reframing one that is in need of positive spin. Throw in some video — there are over 2.5 billion video searches monthly, with YouTube clearly dominating this space — and you have the ability to now reach 75% of online users.

From here, maintaining your online reputation becomes a question of continued relevant and visible content creation and reputation monitoring. We will cover monitoring in another entry in the future. In the meantime, contact us with any questions, or post your comments below.