Tips For Online Reputation Repair

March 17, 2009

headinhandOnline reputations are becoming increasingly important and difficult to manage. As a result companies that were doing traditional branding are now compelled to change their approach and embrace new online tactics.

Companies that are serious about the perception of their brand should be prepared to include a reputation management campaign in their marketing plan.

Individuals who are concerned with their online reputation should be more conscious of what type of information they post online. On a small scale individuals can be proactive in promoting their own positive content.

For both companies and individuals, a professional reputation management company should be used to take control if the situation gets out of hand. Skilled reputation management companies are experienced in quick reputation repair which will limit the amount and extent of negative information exposure.

We specialize in online and search engine reputation management, offering a wide variety of custom solutions to repair, defend, and monitor corporate and personal reputations. With combined knowledge in search engine optimization, HTML, public relations, PPC, adwords, social media, copywriting, and software tools, our approach to branding delivers successful results for clients who are in need of best-in-class online reputation management.

Our main main goal is to drive negative results out of the search engines. The visibility of the negative information is then drastically decreased. We take a multi-step approach to online reputation management. For example, one step is to monitor online conversation and determine the sources of negative or unwanted information. The next step would involve promoting positive or neutral information while decreasing the visibility of negative information. Each client is unique and due the sensitivity of many of the situations our clients come to us with, we typically handle each project differently by deploying a customized solution.

Dealing with and repairing a bad online reputation isn’t easy. However, starting with some of the suggestions below, you can get a jump start on repairing your reputation. These suggestions are geared toward replacing negative information with positive information on search engine results.

Some Tips for Reputation Repair

Create Social Networking Profiles – Social networks like Naymz, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Squidoo, and Digg are a great place to start. Typically these work best for less common names. If your name is common, like “John Smith”, you will need to get more creative in how these profiles are used.

Write and Syndicate Articles – Most sites would love to have quality unique content available to them. Solicit the websites of a topic you are knowledgeable in and offer them unique and relevant articles in exchange for a bio on their website, to appear with the article. You can also ask them to link the article to a personal or corporate website.

Own Your .com, .net, and .org Domain Name – Buy any variation of domain names with your name in them. For example, JohnSmith.com, JohnSmithBlog.com, etc. Write a few pages about yourself for the website and soon this site could appear for searches related to your name. For companies, be sure to own all website variations for your company name and product names. You do not need to post pages on each domain name, but owning them ensures that no one else can purchase them with the purpose of slandering you or your company. By the way, this would include YourCompanyDomainNamesucks.com.

Contribute to Consumer Generated Websites – Contribute to forums, consumer review websites, and other places on which you have the opportunity to post content and create occurrences of your name online. Be sure to use your real name when registering and contributing to these websites. Blog comments on Blog websites are another avenue for your name to appear online.

Press Releases – Press releases are an easy way to publish a page of content about yourself or your company online. There are press release syndication websites that allow you to publish your press release at no cost. Try to make press releases interesting and useful for the best results.

Public Speaking – Speaking at industry events or local events can give you the positive reputation boost that you are looking for. You will most likely be featured on the event website, and you can also post the event on your own website and Blog or publish a press release to announce the event. These presentations should be recorded, digitized, and then be available for podcast distribution as well.

When negative information appears online it affects the way you or your company are perceived in the public eye. In fact, in a recent study (Creative Group), it was found that 7 out of 10 searchers do not make a purchase if the search they perform contains negative listings. This shows how much of an effect negative search engine listings can have on a person or company. Your reputation is a key factor in personal and business relationships. Both companies and individuals should be aware of the type of results that are appearing in search engines and how it is affecting their business or personal life.

An important point to note is that not all negative information is limited to standard search engines. Blog search engines, video sites like YouTube, social news such as Digg can be affected as well.

As you can see just from reading these simple techniques — there are many more — there is a definite need for professional, experienced help in online reputation management. There are many reasons a person or company should chose to enlist the help of a skilled online reputation management company. Some of the techniques used to combat negative information require technical or strategic expertise while other situations may be sensitive and should be handled with extreme care and knowledge to insure a long-term solution acceptable to the search engines. No “black-hat”, no footprints.

In addition, monitoring and defending an online reputation is time consuming. For an individual or a small company it can be a part time job while, for a large company, it can be a full time job that may require a dedicated team.

Twitter ReputationDR

Twitter ReputationDR

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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.

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How To Use Twitter For Online Reputation Management

December 1, 2008

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Clean Up Your Online Persona

If you have a personal website or social profile, check it for embarrassing information.  You should think twice about blogging on topics that may not reflect favorably on you. People are regularly “Googling” others. Beat them to the punch and Google yourself. 

You should know what the Internet reveals about your past. More importantly, people and employers are increasingly gaining access to social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace to see what they can learn about you as well.  There are many ways people (and employers) can gain access into all the social Web 2.0 sites. For example, employers are tasking staffers to do candidate research. We have blogged about this before. So, be sure to remove incriminating photos and any statements on your profile(s) which could be embarrassing. More importantly, set your privacy settings as high as you can.

hasselhoff-drunk1MOST OF ALL, know yourself.  Make a list of your strengths, goals, values, accomplishments and abilities to use as a general reference for all who find any of your links. Make a list of the top five things you want a people to know about you.  This will help provide your answers for the majority of the things people want to know about you, such as what makes you of value, what makes you unique?

Let’s talk about Twitter for online reputation and brand building…

twitter If you don’t have an account there as yet, go ahead and sign up. It’s easy, upload a photo and short Bio, and join the “conversation”. All “tweets“, as they are known, are limited to only 140 characters, so this is a great way of using social media to position and brand yourself online. An additional benefit is that Twitter pages rank well in the search engines when your name is searched. Our recommendation is to USE YOUR REAL NAME, not a fantasy profile.

Many of you already know that Twitter is one of the fastest growing web 2.0 websites. There are literally thousands of new members joining Twitter every day. It’s an ideal enviroment to network with like minded people.

The short and immediate tweets allow you to interact with others, to build relationships and to establish yourself as a credible expert.. with a personality! What if there was a way of firing up your followers with energy and enthusiasm? Up until now, the traditional way of staying in touch with your target audience was through email. The vast majority of people on your list are likely to object if you were to send out more than two or three emails a day. In fact some would object to getting more than two or three emails a week.

However, Twitter allows you to publish updates all day long and, if your followers don’t wish to see your updates they can simply “unfollow” you. And, whereas you will get some replies from your list subscribers, those replies are one-to-one. Your replies on Twitter will be seen by many which engenders even more conversation and participation. The greatest benefits offered by Twitter is that it allows you to engage your audience, build your credibility, and to establish yourself as an authority in your niche market.

While some direct sales can be made on Twitter, it is much more effective to sell yourself, to build your reputation and to get involved in relevant conversations. And that is where the real value lies…The real value in using Twitter is that it’s an excellent source of targeted traffic. Rather than use the hard, direct sell, you should approach Twitter with a long term goal in mind.

Include links to valuable resources, relevant articles. Keep your audience up to date with the latest news in your niche. Announce new blog posts, product launches. Set up polls and surveys to get feedback. Use Twitter creatively!

The Powerful Targeting Of Your Twitter Audience…

In an increasingly competitive marketplace is it vitally important that you are able to maximize your influence. Twitter offers you the environment to do just that. You can quickly and easily connect with people who share the same interests that you do, people who will be interested in sharing information on a common topic. People who want to engage in a conversation with you. Nothing else can compare with the Immediacy of Twitter…

Furthermore, with the current economic climate, it’s even more important that we build strong relationships with our target audience. The real competitive advantage comes from being the first person to break the news, to be able to respond to the needs and demands of our market with lightning speed. With a strong presence on Twitter, you will be perfectly positioned to keep your followers up to date with the latest news in your sector.

You will be ideally placed to recommend new products.

You can..

  • Drive Traffic To Your Blog.
  • Build A Targeted List.
  • Enhance Your Customer Service Credibility.
  • Bolster Your Reputation As An Authority.
  • Recommend Other People’s Products & Services.
  • Promote Your Own Products.
  • Collect Competitor Intelligence.
  • Spot New Trends.
  • Build Long Term relationships.
  • Recruit New Affiliates and JV Partners
  • Find Specialist Suppliers.

In summary, with Twitter you will gain much more credibility in your market niche and build your online reputation as a real authority.

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