How to Manage Your Reputation in a Crisis

Most companies look for online reputation management services because they’ve been hit with negative reviews or comments on hate sites. But what should you do about a full-on crisis, where a major incident has happened related to your company and it’s now all over the press?

First, this is something your PR department and upper management should be prepared for, and a lot of large companies already have plans in place for such a contingency. However, smaller companies can be taken unawares if they’ve never experienced a crisis. They’ve been too busy focusing on growth and serving their customers to think about the unthinkable.

Then it happens. A report on tainted products comes out, or a major accident occurs, or there’s a shooting at one of their facilities, or an executive is under investigation for fraud. And before all the facts come out, the online world is abuzz with speculation, accusations, and fabricated stories. Needless to say, that can cast a cloud over one’s online reputation.

Of course, the worst thing you can do is deny everything and hope the problem will go away. You have to meet it head on and let your customers and the rest of the world know that you’re on top of things. Responding quickly and taking responsibility will go a long way towards deterring speculation, though it won’t stop people who just want to say bad things about you no matter what.

Working with the press and being honest will tend to show your company in a better light than refusing to comment. In any news story that comes up in a search, it’s better to have your side presented than to leave it to the reporter to make something up. People can be quite forgiving if you accept responsibility and tell them the truth. But attempting a cover up will only make it worse.

While the crisis is in full swing, you will probably want to publish press releases with every new development. Press releases usually rank well in Google searches, and they’ll provide a record of events as they unfold, offering readers a chance to see how you responded.

Eventually, one hopes, the problem will be handled, the crisis will blow over, and the press will move on to something else. But the stories and comments will stay online forever. As always, the ultimate goal for managing your online reputation is to make sure that searches related to your company show more positive results than negative ones.

And that’s where we get back to our regularly scheduled program of providing positive content about your company, getting it to rank higher in searches, and pushing the negative content off the first page of search results.

Online Reputation Management Services article in Forbes