Reputation Insurance and the Myth of the Quick Fix Reputation Management Campaign

Reputational risk is a problem that many companies are just beginning to understand. Today’s web is both an easy place to create a reputation and to lose one. In some cases, all it takes is one single blogger to give your company a bad review, and you could face lose thousands (or millions) of dollars in potential business. That’s why large companies are starting to hire reputation management firms like ours to help them build a positive reputation online.

In fact, it’s become such a big business as of late, that AIG recently started selling “reputation insurance” so they can cash in on the growing trend. This special commercial insurance Miami will help companies pay the cost of reputation management when a crisis flares up. The problem is that this type of insurance perpetuates the myth that reputation management is only needed in a crisis and can be discarded once everything has blown over. The truth is that a real reputation management policy is an ongoing strategy that prevents crises from ever surfacing.

Why Should Reputation Management Be an Ongoing Strategy?

Many companies want to believe that reputation management is something that can be applied like a band-aid when things get rough. But that is a myth. In fact, here are 3 ways that an ongoing reputation management strategy is more beneficial than an insurance policy.

1. Crises never surface

Many companies wait until a crisis pops up before even thinking about reputation management. But you can avoid the negative press and publicity, as well as the loss of revenue, by creating a strong reputation management strategy now. Creating a strategy before a crisis starts helps prevent future crises from ever happening. Why deal with the aftermath of a reputation attack when you could avoid them altogether?

2. It’s more expensive to deal with an emergency

When you have a reputation crisis, it means damage has already been done to your company, and now you are simply trying to prevent more damage from being done. In such circumstances, reputation management professionals are brought in to “fix” the problem as quickly as possible. This type of emergency management is expensive. Think of it this way: taking the extra 5 seconds to put your seatbelt on before driving, helps protect you against grave bodily harm if you are ever in an accident. Wearing a seatbelt can save your life and prevent serious injury, and it only take a few seconds. Whereas, if you don’t wear a seatbelt, and your are involved in an accident, you could face death or a lifetime of disability, mounting doctor’s bills, and chronic pain—all of which could have been prevented if you’d taken 5 seconds to fasten your seatbelt. In this case, an ongoing reputation management strategy is your seatbelt. It’s painless and easy to implement now. But waiting until a crisis hits makes it much more expensive and can leave lasting harm to your company.

3. It’s comprehensive

Crisis management is very one-sided. After a reputation crisis, reputation management strategies focus only on solving the single crisis at hand but leave all other sides open for attack. If you start a reputation management strategy now, you’ll have time to shore up all avenues and venues for reputational attacks, and you won’t be putting fires out one by one. You’ll have already placed a protective rampart around your business.

Avoid the myth propagated by reputation insurance and start an online reputation management strategy now that will help you prevent future attacks and minimize their fallout.

Six Online Reputation Management Tips for Job Seekers

With so many people out of work and legions of candidates vying for the few jobs that are available, employers are looking for more ways to differentiate between potential hires. That means that more and more employers are beginning to look at the social media profiles of job candidates in order to determine who would best benefit their organization. If you’re in the job market and are actively applying for employment, it pays to take a look at your social profiles and make sure that they’ll help you get a job—instead of hurt you. And here are 6 tips to help you get started:

1. Google Yourself

If you haven’t done it before, it can be an eye opening experience. You may discover that you have such a small online presence that potential employers won’t be able to find you. On the other hand, you may discover that the top result for your name is a blog post by a friend of yours describing your drunken night in Las Vegas. Is that what you want potential employers to see?

2. Be found

The best possible result is if you find that your personal website, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile appear on the first page and are recognizably yours. This shows potential employers that you have some clout and are active in online communities—just hope that your profiles show that you are active in the right kind of online communities.

3. Clean it up

Take a look at your Facebook, Twitter, personal blog, and more. What is the first thing people will see? A picture of you riding a mechanical bull on St. Patrick’s day or a nice, neutral picture of yourself smiling at the camera? Look at your status updates and information. Eliminate anything that might make you look lazy, sarcastic, or as if you might be an embarrassment to a potential employer. Especially delete any disparaging remarks about past employment or any job you may have applied for. Criminal searches are the most up-to-date, accurate and best criminal records searches you can order, and https://rapidscreening.com.au/ team of records professionals conduct in-person searches at courthouses in all US jurisdictions and territories.

4. Check your connections

Who are you connected to? If you recently worked on a local political campaign for a candidate who was indicted on corruption charges, maybe it’s best to unfriend them. Don’t be guilty by association.

5. Don’t overshare

Social networks are a great place to let loose and tell people what you are up to, but a string of updates about the contents of your lunch or your gastrointestinal problems could be a turn off. Employers want people who have important things to say or who are involved in their community in important ways. Stop posting a meaningless status every 10 minutes, and start posting one or two a day that actually say something.

6. Share interesting stuff

When you share online, make sure you’re sharing content that a potential employer might find interesting. For example, if you’re in marketing, tweet about interesting articles you’ve read about marketing. If you’re a chef, share interesting recipes you’ve found around the web.  Create an online presence that makes you someone your potential employer would want to hire.

My friend who has recently been seeking legal jobs in Columbus tried these tips and confirmed it works just fine. So, now you can also try them and find your dream work.

Thinking Beyond Your Company Name in Reputation Management

The first area you want to attack in a reputation management campaign is the search engine results page for your company name. That is the first and most obvious place to start building up positive information about your company and pushing negative information down (way down) so that it isn’t easy to find.

But once you have a strong presence on the search engine results for your company name, where else can you go? What do you do next? Well, your company name is not the only thing that potential customers, clients, and employees will search for online before they decide to do business with you. Maybe it’s time to start thinking creatively about the different ways people are finding information about you online. Here are some suggestions to get you started on a path to a broader reputation management strategy.

1. Focus on related searches

What could searchers be adding to your company name in order to find you? Could it be the name of one of your products or services, like “Watch Co. digital watches” or “Wilson Lawn Care fertilizer”? If you are a large company, it might also be a good idea to look at the results pages for searches for key members of your board and upper management along with your company name. Sometimes negative attacks on your company may be directed more specifically at a certain manager or board member, and you can quell those fires before they become problems if you are keeping an eye on broader, related terms.

2. Manage negative terms

Maybe the results page for your company name looks great, but what about the results page for “Wingnut Ltd. scam” or “Wingnut Ltd. rip-off”? Don’t forget, people can also search for negative information about your company directly, using negative keywords like, “scam,” “rip-off,” or “fraud.” If this is the case, you can start building content that includes those keywords, but is focused on positive information. For example, a series of blog guest posts around the internet that discuss how your company and products aren’t scams, rip-offs, or frauds.

3. Images

When was the last time you did an image search for your company name? In today’s hyper-visual internet world, images can sometimes convey more meaning than 200 blog articles about your company. If you encounter images that display your company in a negative light, maybe it’s time to start thinking about an image campaign that will help increase the number of positive images of your company on the internet.

Of course, these aren’t the only ways that you can get creative with your reputation management strategy. Each company and industry is slightly different and can have different needs and vulnerabilities when it comes to reputation management. The point is, rather, that in order to create a comprehensive reputation management strategy, you need to think about more that your company name. And when you can get creative about how you approach reputation management, you’ll be able to create a stronger reputation online and off.

 

The Art of Burying Links with Reputation Management

Reputation management is more of an art than a science. Although there are some basic principles involved, the search engines are constantly changing the way they rank websites and pages, so it pays to always be on the lookout for creative ways to get your website more attention.

Of course, negative reviews and so-called “scam reports” about your company are something none of us like to see. But these negative reviews and false information can be very hard to take down. So your only option is to help websites that publish positive information about your company to rank better than websites that publish negative information about your company. In that sense, online reputation management is more about burying bad links than it is about helping your company website to rank better.

And the only way to bury negative information far down in the search results is to take control of the positive and neutral information that already exists about you on the internet. For example, here are a few ways you can improve in the art of burying negative links.

1. Create websites

Who says you can only control one official website for your company? One way to create positive links for your company is to create more websites. If you can get those websites to rank well, you’ll be pushing more negative links down in the search results. For example, you can create different websites that deal with different products or different aspects of your business. You could create off-site blogs that often talk about your company and the niche it occupies in the marketplace. And much more.

2. Build links for positive reviews

These days it is pretty much a guarantee that your business has been reviewed somewhere on the internet. And if you’re a big company, it’s probably been reviewed hundreds of times. Take the time to seek out the positive reviews of your company and its products and create linkbuilding campaigns to push those reviews higher in the search results, pushing negative reviews down lower.

3. Build links for neutral information

Not all information about your company online is good or bad, some of it is simply informative and neutral. For example, does your company have a Wikipedia article written about it? If not, write one and promote it by building links to it. Also, take the time to seek out other informational articles about your company, like business listings or conference listings and promote them so that you can bury that negative stuff even deeper.

4. Build links for news stories and press releases

Just like the neutral information that might exist about your company online, there may exist positive/neutral news stories and press releases that mention your company name online. These news stories don’t necessarily have to be about your company, but as long as they mention your company name in a positive/neutral light, they are great candidates for linkbuilding targets. In fact, the more independent information you can get to rank online, the better.

The art of link burying can be difficult and wide-ranging, but it can be worth it if you can manage to push links to negative information about your company down in the ranks by filling the top pages with links to overwhelmingly positive and neutral information.

 

3 Ways to Get In Front of a Reputation Management Crisis

Increasingly, reputation management is becoming a standard practice for many large and small businesses. Savvy business owners have realized that not only do they have to get to the top of a search engine results page for keywords relating to their products, but that they need to grab as much page real estate as they can for a search for their company name. Too many have been burned or lost customers because of negative reviews or so-called scam reports that show up on the first page of a search results page.

But a lot of reputation management is simply knowing where you need to be, who you need to reach out to, and what to monitor on the web for any potential problems. In that vein, let’s explore some reputation management strategies that will help you stay ahead of the curve instead of behind the eight ball.

1. Buy negative, company-related domains and profiles

One of the first things you need to remember in reputation management is that if you don’t take control of the way your company name is used, someone else will. Chances are that you already own a number of domains that reflect your company name, like bobsshoes.com, bobsshoes.org, bobs-shoes.com, etc. But what about domains that reflect badly on your company name, like bobsshoessuck.com or bobs-shoes-scam.com? Of course, you’ll never use those domains yourself, but if you own them, then no one else can buy them up and use them against you.

The same goes for social profiles. You may already have a Facebook page and Twitter that are company branded, but you should look into grabbing social profiles that might reflect badly on your company as well, so that no one else can use them.

2. Start social outreach now

Once you have those social profiles secured, use them (not the negative ones, obviously, just the positively branded ones). Depending on your industry, you may be the only company in your industry that has created social profiles—especially if your industry is not one that normally interacts with the public.

For example, if you are a concrete manufacturer, you may think you’ll never use a company Facebook account. But simply having a branded Facebook account for your company—when none of your competitors do—will not only help you rank better in the search results for “concrete manufacturers,” it will take up another spot on the results page when anyone searches for your company online.

And if you can actually capture the attention of people who are interested in the concrete industry and engage them through your social media outlets, you’ll begin building a positive reputation online that will battle any attacks on your company before they even begin.

3. Monitor the web

Lastly, you need to be aware of what is being said about you on the web. Setting up a few Google alerts that will tell you when anything is said about your company online is simple to do and, once you got them up and running, they’re easy to maintain. In addition, you can create Twitter searches that will let you know when your company name is tweeted—good or bad.

With automated alerts, you’ll know when a blogger complains about one of your products or someone writes something negative about your company. Being alerted to these potential problems as quickly as possible will help you get in front of the problem and defend your reputation before any damage is done.

Knowing Is More Than Half the Battle

Taking charge of your reputation management online is about knowing where you need to be, who you need to reach out to, and where you need to look for potential problems. But if you control all your company domains (positive and negative)—as well as social media profiles—and are aware of what is being said about your company online, your reputation management strategy should be successful.

Long-Term Solutions for Online Reputation Management

Although many businesses see online reputation management as an essential part of risk management for their company, many members of the public can take reputation management practices out of context and misinterpret it as “covering up” bad or critical reviews and articles about them on the web. But this isn’t really the case. Online reputation management is simply a way for businesses to improve their search engine rankings and give a truthful and honest portrait of their company when a member of the public does a Google search for their company’s name.

Inherently, the practice of online reputation management is good and ethical; however, some businesses can go outside the bounds of honesty and employ shady or ethically questionable behavior when seeking to improve their online reputation.

Two Ways to Look at Online Reputation Management

Basically, there are two ways of looking at online reputation management: As a cover up or as a legitimate way to identify and correct online reputation issues with the company. Those who seek solely to cover up bad information about themselves have no intention of improving themselves or their company. On the other hand, companies who want long-term positive online reputations, use reputation management services to identify, isolate, and improve negative reputation issues.

Covering Up

Seeking solely to cover up bad reviews or negative news about a company will only work in the short term. Generally, companies who do not take full advantage of the information that reputation management services provide will find themselves facing the same issues over and over again. Instead of using reputation management as an investigative tool, they will keep making the same mistakes and facing the same problems because they do not fix the source of the problem, they are only interested in putting a band aid on the symptom.

Fixing Problems for the Long Term

However, online reputation management can be extremely valuable for companies who are actively seeking to change their online reputation for the long-term. Instead of simply covering up bad reviews and negative information, they use the negative online information to evaluate their own business practices and products. If they uncover the same negative comments from a multitude of sources, they take a look at the underlying problem and set plans into motion to rectify the situation so that the negative criticism does not continue.

In the same vein, they can use reputation management as a way to identify where negative information is coming from and fix the problem for good. For example, if a negative company or product review appears on a blog or website. Through reputation management, a company can reach out to the site owner or review writer and offer to fix the problem to the reviewer’s satisfaction. Although this may not work in all cases, it can turn negative reviews into positive experiences for both the reviewer and the company.

It be honest, there are times when untruthful or malicious information may be spread through the internet about a company. These lies and rumors are bound to pop up from time to time, especially if you are a large company. And although a company may seek to remedy the situation, there may be no way to deal with the situation other than to simply promote more positive information to the top of a Google search.

Improving Reputation Online and Off

Online reputation management—at its core—is a useful tool for helping companies deal with false and misleading information about them online as well as to correct problems in its management and products that are causing a negative reputation online. At times companies may seek simply to cover up negative information about themselves, but that solution is only temporary. Truly using online reputation management services to their fullest means fixing problems so that they do not continue to be problems, thus improving company reputation online—and off—for the long-term.

 

Blogging: An Essential Part of Your Online Reputation Management Strategy

Online reputation management can seem like a Kafka novel sometimes. There are lots of tips, tricks, and best practices that most people who are doing online reputation management agree on, but from time to time problems arise that defy traditional attempts at resolution. However, a sure fire way to improve your company’s online reputation is through the use and power of a blog.

For some companies, blogging may sound like a silly strategy. I mean, you make screws for airplane engines, right? Who wants to read about that? But blogging is about more than writing about your company’s products or reviewing the latest company picnic. Having a company blog can help improve your online reputation in a number of ways.

Tips for Blogging

First of all, you have to shake off the idea that a blog has to be all about your company. Your company has employees, customers, and business partners that are part of a larger group of people who are interested in your niche in general. If you make screws for airplane engines, I’m sure there is a group of designers and engineers out there who might be interested in what you do. Your company blog should be about engaging a specific audience who would be interested in your niche topic in order to raise awareness about your company and its products and services. But it can be a great online reputation management tool as well.

How Blogging Can Boost Your Online Reputation

Here are 3 ways having a company blog can help you with your online reputation management:

1) Gives others something to link to and share

Creating a blog isn’t just writing for the sake of writing. It’s about writing for the sake of being shared and linked to. If you can create good content on your blog—for example, really engaging those designers and engineers with the fascinating world of airplane engine screws—they’ll get a good impression of your company and maybe even link to you from their site or share your posts through social media, giving you some great backlinks and boosting your SEO and online reputation.

2) Creates more pages to rank for

Although Google has recently changed the way it displays sitelinks, your company may not be affected by the change. If that is the case, you may still be able to host your blog on a subdomain and get it ranked for your company name on a search engine results page—taking up one more spot on the first page and push other, negative content down. If you can create some great content that is optimized for your company name as well as for specific content keywords, you can give yourself another positive bump in the search results.

3) It’s an official channel of communication

One of the best things about a company blog is that it is public. A blog gives your company a chance to communicate with the public directly in order to address concerns, problems, and issues that may be plaguing your company’s image. When people have doubts about your company or its products or services, they want them resolved by your company. Addressing those problems on your company blog takes the power away from angry bloggers or “scam alert” sites who want to disparage your company online. When YOU control the message, you can create a positive image for yourself and give people an official source of information they can turn to in order to dispel rumors, myths, and outright lies.

In essence, take control of your company image and reputation by creating a company blog that you can use to communicate directly with the public, so they can share your information, and so they know where to go for official information about your company. All-around, blogging can improve your status with the public and your online reputation.

 

Creative Ways to Improve Your Company’s Online Reputation

In many ways, online reputation management is a game. But it’s not a game you are playing against a person. It’s like playing chess against one of those super-smart artificially intelligent computers. Except, in this game, the computer is a search algorithm, and the computer is always changing the rules during game play.

Of course, the objective in online reputation management is the fill the first page of a search engine results page with positive or neutral information about your company, and push any negative, unwanted, or “scam alert” results down. And although Google keeps changing the rules, they are always moving in a direction that favors good and useful content as opposed to thin or spammy content. So one way to make sure you will dominate the first page of a Google results page is to create a number of websites that are dedicated to great content and positive programs.

Sometimes you have to get creative, but that creativity will pay off if you concentrate on building great, long-lasting, SEO-optimized content. For example, here some ideas for campaigns you might try to improve your online reputation.

1) Infographics

Infographics are a great way to convey a large amount of information in a very small space, and in an entertaining way. You could create an inforgraphic about a topic that is related to your business and host it on its own website that is branded with your business information. Do some outreach to bloggers and sites who would be interested in your infographic and make sure they link to your site. Infographics tend to get passed around a lot, building links for your independent site and pushing it high in the search results for your company name, giving searchers a positive view of your company.

2) Guides

What kind of business are you in? Think about the kinds of things that other people need to know how to do in your field. For example, if you are a construction company, you could create a guide (or series of guides) about construction zone safety, the fundamentals of pouring concrete, or framing a house. Host these guides on a separate site that is optimized for your company name. Again, when you reach out to bloggers and websites, and they see what a great resource you’ve built, they’ll link to the site and boost it’s rank. Giving you another result on the front page of Google.

3) Contests and Scholarships

Create a website for a prize or scholarship your company is giving away. A number of sites on the internet exist solely to list contests and scholarship information. As well, many colleges like to link to scholarship opportunities for their students. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe only $500. But having a website, optimized for your name, on the first page of a Google search that presents information about a positive contest or scholarship can do wonders for your PR and your online reputation.

4) Badges

Let’s say your company sells model airplanes. Create a site that is dedicated to finding and recognizing the best modeling blogs on the internet, and give those blogs a badge to put on their site. It could be as simple as a badge simply stating, “A Modeling.com Top Airplane Modeling Blog 2011.” Those blogs who receive the badge will be excited they’ve been recognized, placing it on their site, and each badge will link back to the website you’ve created—that is optimized for your company name. Hopefully, all those links will add up and take a place on the front page of a Google search for your name, pushing negative sites further down.

Online reputation management doesn’t have to always be about numbers and spreadsheets. You can make the online reputation management fun by using creative ways to accomplish your goals.

 

Google’s New Sitelinks and Your Online Reputation

Google is always reviewing and updating its practices, algorithms, and values. At times it can feel like trying to hit a moving target. And it can be frustrating to find that you’ve put months into an online reputation management campaign only to have Google change the game again.

Well, recently, they changed the game by evolving the way they display sitelinks in the search results. Previously, if you had a website in the top 5, and it was undoubtedly the top result on the page, Google would display sitelinks underneath the main link to your site. For example, here is the old search listing for the website, Hubspot:

 

As you can see, underneath the link to the home page, there are a number of smaller links to individual pages within the site. This link-bunching highlighted this site as the most important and most trusted in the search results, and most people were more apt to click on links that appeared like this one.

As of mid-August, Google changed the way they display these sitelinks from the small version pictured above to the version pictured below:

 

As you can see, the sitelinks are HUGE. Obviously this gives a huge boost to websites who already rank well and have a great reputation online—and hopefully, your website ranks among them.

But this change also has some side effects. In exchange for filling what is, essentially, half the page with the results of one website, they have taken away multiple listings for subdomains and combined them all into the one big listing.

For example, you can see in the image above that the sitelinks include links to subdomains like “jobs.hobspot.com” and “blog.hubspot.com.” Previous to this change, these subdominas would have appeared as separate listings in the search results, taking up more spots in the top ten search results.

As a result of the change, many websites that many have been listed lower down, or on the second page, suddenly found themselves much higher in the search results.

This effect has two implications for your online reputation management strategy. First, it means that creating multiple subdomains that rank high in the results is no longer an effective strategy. Essentially, Google has compiled everything into one listing so all your subdomains are now subsumed under one massive heading—if you’re on top already.

Secondly, other sites that may have been ranking well, but may not have been on the first page, could have moved up. And that can be both a good and a bad thing for your online reputation. If you were trying hard to get a number of other positive information websites to rank well for your company’s name, you may find you have some much better results now. On the other hand, if a number of nasty and untruthful information was hiding just around the corner, it may be rearing it’s ugly head on the first page of a Google search for your company name.

At this point, it is important to check your Google listing and take note of what has changed, if anything, for a search for your company name. You may be pleasantly surprised, or you could be severely disappointed. Either way, you’ll know that moving forward you may need to employ different tactics in your online reputation management campaign in order to get the results you are looking for.

 

Leveraging Your Organization to Improve Your Online Reputation

When it all comes down to it, a good portion of online reputation management is about search engine optimization. That is, you need to clear the front page of a Google search of all negative content and let the positive information and links about your company shine. Professional online reputation management companies do this all the time, but it can also be very labor intensive and may a slow process. But you can help your online reputation management company succeed faster by leveraging the people in your organization.

You have a whole company at your disposal, and you can use them to help you do better in the search results, by encouraging them to participate in certain activities that will help positive information about your site rank higher, pushing negative information lower. Here are a few ideas you might want to try.

1) Leverage blogs

If you are a large company, or have a large independent marketing workforce, chances are a number of your employees or marketers have blogs. Each one of those blogs is a potential online advocate for your company. Not only can employee blogs be used to post positive information about your company but they can easily create links to your company site (or other favorable sites) that can help boost your search engine rankings.

For example, create a company website “badge” and offer it to your employees or marketers. They can easily download or copy the badge from your company site and place it on their own. This act creates pride in the company on the part of those who put the badge on their site, it’s free advertising, and it links back to your site, boosting your page rank (or the rank of any page you want the badge to link to).

You could also offer contests for the best and most creative company testimonial posted on a personal blog, or run other contents that encourage members of your organization to post positive information about your company on their personal websites.

2) Social Media

Social factors, like sharing links on Facebook and Twitter, is now an important aspect of online reputation management as well. If you don’t already have a social media strategy, create one. Then encourage the members of your organization to follow or join you.

Again, you can incentivize your employees to share links to your company by holding contents or running specials that are only open to those who are followers or who share certain links. It’s a great way to boost company morale and create a myriad of links to websites you want to perform well at the same time.

3) Reviews

There are a bunch of “scam report” and review sites out there, but they are usually dominated by negative content—the kind of thing you don’t want to see in a Google search for your company name. Well, turn that paradigm on its head by encouraging employees to seek out and create reviews of your company. In fact, jump the gun on those “scam report” sites, by asking employees to fill out positive reviews on the site before anything negative gets posted. You can always turn these assignments into games or contests as well in order to encourage more people to participate.

Reputation Management is a Group Activity

Online reputation management doesn’t have to be the job of one person or simply the domain of your PR department. When you get the whole organization involved in online reputation management, you can build relationships, strengthen bonds, and create positive online reputation for your company all at the same time.

 

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