There is no shortage of politicians with reputation management problems. It seems that every time we turn on the news, another politician is in trouble for something they’ve done in their personal or professional life. From Anthony Weiner to Herman Cain, we all understand that when you run for office your personal life becomes public.
But there are other threats out there as well. For example, take the case of Rick Santorum.
Santorum has made many derogatory statements about the LBGT community, so Dan Savage—a prominent blogger and gay rights advocate, created a campaign to push blog.spreadingsantorum.com to the top of the search results for searches with the keyword “santorum” or “rick santorum.” The blog features an extremely crude definition for the word “santorum” that was at the top of the SERPs until just recently when it was finally defeated by the official Rick Santorum campaign website. It has now moved down further below various social profiles for the former presidential candidate.
As a politician, how can you guard against these attacks on your character and name—attacks that could have a real impact on your success and campaign? Although it is hard to patch up a public lapse in morality, there are a number of safeguards you can put into place to protect your online reputation.
1) Hire a Reputation Management Firm
When you are running for office, your reputation is just about the most important thing you need to take care of. So this is no time to start your amateur venture into online reputation management or assign an intern to do the job. You need the experience and knowledge that a reputation management firm can bring to your campaign. They’ll know exactly what to do to move bad information out of the SERPs for your name and maintain a positive reputation for you as you run for office.
2) Maintain Social Accounts
Although you should hire a reputation management firm to do the heavy lifting of your reputation management blitz, there are a number of other guidelines and practices you can put into place to head off future mistakes before they become nightmares. The first of which is to create and use multiple social profiles.
Creating a great social presence online is standard practice for modern political campaigns, but you need to make sure that you create multiple accounts and that they all get some love. In the case of Santorum, they were used to push a rather unflattering search result down. For you, they can help prevent an unfavorable result from reaching the top of the SERPs.
3) Share Your Social Account Credentials
Part of the reason politicians like Anthony Weiner get in trouble is that they feel like their social accounts are a personal space—something they can control privately. But this feeling of control and secrecy can lead to problems. To prevent misuse of your personal social profiles, give the credentials to trusted staff members who are trained in social media. Let them do the heavy social media work and post updates as if they were you. Giving others access to the accounts makes it harder for you to hide unfavorable content online, ultimately keeping your online reputation more secure.
4) Review Messaging Before it’s Sent
As a politician, it’s probably standard practice to make sure a press release is passed before multiple eyes before it is given to reporters—why not your Tweets? This does not mean that a whole team of copywriters needs to go over every 140 character update, but you should run your social media messaging by a trusted member of your staff before it is sent. Too many politicians have gotten in trouble for sending off an ill-thought-out Facebook status. Don’t be that guy. Make sure you’re not the only one who is doing the updating to your accounts.
5) Run a Clean Campaign
Lastly, simply run a clean campaign. If you can put safeguards in place that will protect you from sending potentially harmful messages through your social media profiles and you can keep your professional and personal life clean, you’ll reduce your risk for a reputation management catastrophe and have a better shot at running a winning campaign.