Best Outreach Strategies for Reputation Management

Optimizing your SERP today isn’t the same as it was just a few years ago. Not too long ago you could simply keyword stuff your site or do the same to off-site blogs and other web properties and, voila, you could make a positive-looking SERP pretty easily. Today, Google demands much more from websites than just a handful of keywords. Today, Google says, it’s all about providing value to the internet. To get a good SERP today, you have to employ several different strategies, like creating social profiles, guest blogging, making videos, and more.

As a result, reputation management is much more varied today, and you have to be more creative. One of the ways you can be more creative is by building out some cool content that gets links from a variety of authoritative websites. Things like infographics, e-books, videos, downloadable posters, and more can be a great way to fill up a SERP with positive mentions of your name, but they will only work if you can get people to link to them. Although many reputation management professionals may complain about how hard it is to get something to “go viral” (and not everything will), there is a strategy you can follow to at least ensure that your content—whatever it might be—gets the best chance it can get at widespread links and exposure, ensuring a place in your SERP.

1) Define your audience

First of all, you need to define your audience. Let’s say you’re doing reputation management for a company that build e-learning tools, and you want to get their latest e-book to rank in the SERPs for their name. Identify who that e-book might be useful to. Is it teachers? Is it corporate trainers? Is it parents? It is CEOs? Once you know who you need to reach out to, the next step is a no-brainer.

2) Identify the leaders

Today there is an online community for just about everything. Whether you’re targeting lifestyle management coaches, alligator enthusiasts, or harmonica players, you’ll find a community on the internet for it. All you have to do it identify who are the movers and shakers in that community, and the people that follow those leaders. Once you have identified that the e-book is targeted at corporate trainers, it’s time to step up your game and get social. Through this Book First blog you will get the e-book related all information.

3) Establish relationships

Making friends on the web can be a bit tricky, but all it really boils down to it contacting someone and telling them you like what they’re doing. For example, once you have identified the top five blogs about corporate training, send the personality behind the blog an email, comment on a recent post, follow them on social profiles, or share their content with your followers. This step has nothing to do with asking them to read your e-book or even mentioning that you have anything to do with an e-book, it’s simply about getting their attention and showing them that you are truly interested in what they are doing. Don´t forget to provide a solid communication platform and a reliable email hosting uk provider for this relationship.

4) Don’t ask for a link

Once you’ve spent some time building a relationship with your target, don’t ask for a link to your e-book. Asking for a link is one of the sure-fire ways to not get a link. Rather, approach your target with an idea or ask them for an opinion. Send them an email and ask them if they can give you feedback on an e-book you’ve written about corporate training, then simply send them the e-book. If you’ve already established a relationship of trust, and you ask sincerely, they’ll probably say yes. The key is to bring your target into the content creation process, make them feel like they are a valuable part of the process and that their input will help make your content better.

5) Follow up

Give them some time to look over the content you’ve sent them and then follow up to see what they might have to say about it. Don’t be pushy, just ask if they’ve had a chance to look over it and if they have any suggestions or opinions about it. Again, if you have a relationship with your target, they’ll probably make some time to get back to you—usually with some great feedback.

6) Thank them

Once they’ve given you feedback, thank them for their time and tell them how appreciative you are for their expertise and guidance. Then—finally—you can ask them if this is the type of e-book they’d want to share with their audience. They might say, no. But if they had favorable things to say about your e-book, then they’ll probably say yes. But, even at this point, you’re not asking for a link—you’re simply asking for them to share content that they already like with their audience. Which could be though a link on their blog, through a tweet, a Facebook share, or more.

Any one of theses outcomes is a win. If they link to it, that’s great. If they share it with their followers (and their follow base is sizable), many people will RT it or share it through social networks—creating many mentions of your e-book on the web.

And if you can duplicate this process with 5-10 leaders in the industry, you’ll get a huge response to your e-book. Not only will you see an uptick in downloads, but you’ll get a mess of links and it’ll probably start to rank in the SERPs for your brand or company name—which is exactly what you wanted in the first place.

 

Creative Brainstorming for Reputation Management in “Boring” Industries

Last month, we discussed the idea that doing reputation management for “boring” industries is harder than doing reputation management for industries like energy drinks, celebrities, or trampolines (trampolines are awesome!). But nothing could really be further from the truth. In reality, each industry will pose its own set of unique problems. And if you think you are doing reputation management for a boring company, perhaps the problem is not the company, but a lack of creativity on your part.

One of the best examples of thinking outside the box and making a boring product exciting comes from the great Don Draper of Mad Men. In the clip below, Kodak has just invented what they call “the wheel,” a circular slide projector that allows you to continuously flip through slides and not have to insert them one by one. The Kodak executives think marketing the product will be extremely hard because there’s nothing exciting about their new product. They think it’s a huge leap forward in terms of technology, but the science behind slide projectors is not exactly frontpage news.

Don throws science out the window and is able to capture the real essence of the product and what it will mean for everyday people. He didn’t start with any preconceived notions about what the product should be. Instead, he looked at what the product could be and what it could mean to people. In a nutshell, he was simply being creative.

Creativity is Not a Gift

Anyone can be creative—even doing reputation management for a boring product. Creativity is not a gift that one is simply born with. It is simply the exercise of looking at an everyday object or idea, asking questions about it, and looking at it from a different perspective. And anyone can learn to do it. In fact, here are some strategies that can help you look at a boring industry with a different perspective and do better reputation management as a result.

Define the Problem

Many times, if something isn’t succeeding, we either simply ignore the problem and plow ahead anyway, or we try the first solution that comes to us—we fall back on the strategies we’ve always used. As a result, sometimes we offer many solutions without actually solving any problems. The next time you’ve hit a wall with linkbuilding, linkbait ideas, or more, look to understand the problem first.

One way to do this is the “5 Whys” method. If you have a problem, ask why. Answer that question, then ask why again. And so on. Like this:

1)    I can’t get my client’s YouTube video to rank higher. Why?

2)    Because no one is watching it. Why?

3)    Because it’s boring to watch. Why?

4)    Because it’s just the CEO talking about the financial structure behind the product. Why is that boring?

5)    Because the company’s customers don’t care about the finances. Why not?

6)    Because the product is for stay-at-home moms, and business finance doesn’t relate to their everyday experience.

Once you understand what the problem is, you’ll begin to understand how to solve it.

Define the Audience

Post-Penguin and Panda, it’s getting harder and harder to rely on our old tricks as reputation management specialists. Now we actually have to get people to like, link to, or talk about our clients and their products in order to build a better reputation. But you can’t make people care about your boring company if you don’t know who you are talking to. Do some research; look at your customer data. Sometimes, simply knowing WHO you need to target will present a thousand different ideas for improving your reputation management strategy.

Think Offline

Why is it that we rarely have our best ideas while we are at work? We’re usually too busy working to be able to let our minds wander and find solutions on their own. If you’re stuck doing the same old strategies for the same boring industry, take a break. Walk away form your computer and think offline for a while. Sitting in a restaurant, watching people at the grocery store, putting together a model car, or doing a seemingly non-related task can help you make connections to the problem you’re dealing with.

Add Constraints

Too often, we don’t want to be constrained when we are brainstorming. We want all out options open so we can be more creative. But that’s not when we’re most creative. When we have all possibilities open, we get confused, don’t know which direction to head, get frustrated and give up. So, instead of saying, “Let’s brainstorm all the ways we can get site X to rank better,” give yourself a constraint, like:

  • What if we couldn’t use Google to get traffic to the site?
  • What if we could only get links from Facebook?
  • What if the site only had one page?
  • What if the site was only text (or only picture) based?
  • What if the site was targeted at dog owners?
  • What if we could only use HTML5?
  • Etc.

Instead of limiting your ideas, constraints can help you look at a project in a new way, and spur many great ideas.

When it all boils down, doing reputation management for a non-exciting industry or company is just a matter of stepping outside your normal paradigm and looking at the problem form a different perspective. And if you can do that, the ideas will come and you’ll make the boring job an exciting one.

Expert Advice as an Online Reputation Management Strategy

Over the last year, the online search world has been pretty drastically shaken up, and Google has changed a lot of its policies to weed out what it has determined are low-quality linkbuilding practices. As such, reputation management used to be a pretty simple game to play, but it has become harder and harder to shape a perfect SERP, and it is taking more effort to do so effectively over the long term.

But the war can still be won. Just because Google has changed its policies doesn’t mean that it is impossible to create a great SERP for your brand. It just means you have to change your strategy. And Google is continually leaning more toward “quality” as the biggest ranking factor. In other words, Google is moving in a direction where they are trying to determine the highest quality websites—not based solely on the number of links that point to them, but rather their overall quality as a website. This means that the best strategy from here on out is simply to have a really awesome website. And if you can have a really awesome website, Google will rank you higher and more people will link to you and publish favorable content about you, creating the great SERP you always wanted to build with your reputation management strategy.

So what does that mean for your strategy? Well, one way to build an awesome website is to become an expert and set yourself apart as a leader in your field. Although that sounds hard, it’s actually much easier than you may think. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1) Blog

Putting a blog on your site is a great way to bolster your online reputation. If you run a business, you are an expert in some sort of field. And there are people out there who want to know about that business and what advice you have to give them. So publish posts about what your company does, tips and advice on best practices, lessons you’ve learned over the years (or months) that you’ve been in business. If you can become a hub of knowledge for people in your industry, you’ll get people quoting your blog, linking to your content, and writing about you in other online publications—all giving you great fodder for your reputation management campaign.

2) Give away your knowledge

People love free stuff, especially if they find it useful and valuable to their lives or professions. Whatever field you are in, you have the opportunity to take your knowledge and turn it into tangible pieces of content that can be shared and posted throughout the internet—excellent for your reputation management. For example, you can create downloadable guides to your industry or publish embeddable infographics or slideshare presentations that give useful advice to people in your industry. As these useful resources are promulgated through the web, your devotees will build links to your website and push your content all over the place, building a great online reputation for you.

3) Guest blog

Its easy to publish resources on your own website, but in order to really create a great reputation online, you’ll need to reach out and start building relationships. One way to do that is through guest blogging. Find blogs that have to do with your industry or profession and offer to write a blog post for them about your experiences. For example, there may not be a lot of websites out there devoted to the cosmetics industry, but you can seek out a number of blogs about professional leadership and management and blog about your experience as a manager or your list of top leadership skills. Then you can mention your company in the post and link that blog post back to your professional profile on your company website. People will then see you as a reliable source and your company as a positive influence.

4) Discuss

Another way to build relationships for reputation management is by participating in professional online forums for your industry. For example, LinkedIn has a number of professional forums for all kinds of industries and professions. Join these groups and be active in them. When you do this, you’ll be building relationships with other professionals who are excited about your industry. And if you can give good advice, you and your company will come to be seen as a resource. When you are seen as a resource, you’ll get more links to your site, people will cite your company online, and more—all adding to the strength of your online reputation management strategy.

The secret to making your brand an online expert is simply getting out there and publishing information and building relationships. You don’t have to be the leader in your field in terms of sales—you simply have to be willing to share your insights with others. And when you can become an online expert in your field, your reputation management strategy will take care of itself.

7 Tips for Reputation Management With Twitter

Just a couple of years ago, many companies balked at the idea that Twitter could be useful for their business—“It’s just a bunch of people talking about what they ate for breakfast, right?” Today, social media marketing is the mainstream, and those who aren’t doing it are missing the train to better customer relationships and higher conversion rates.

But Twitter isn’t just about telling customers that you’re having a sale this Friday or informing them about your latest press release. Twitter is also a great tool for reputation management. Because Twitter allows you to deal directly with the public on a near-realtime basis. and it allows you to monitor all public tweets, it can be a great place to listen to the chatter surrounding your brand, address potential problems, and build positive relationships online.

For starters, here are some great ways you can use Twitter as part of your reputation management strategy and reap the benefits of increased positive sentiment about your brand.

1) Monitor

Twitter is like a giant fire hose of consumer information. People tweet about all kinds of products and services. They tweet about the latest Sony TV they bought or the dress they just got at a steal from a Nordstrom’s sale. If you have any sizable customer base, and that base is fairly tech savvy, chances are that you are being mentioned on Twitter—and you may not even know it. Once you create an account, you can set up a keywords search for mentions of your company and product names. When you see users talking about you you’ll begin to understand how Twitter can be a useful reputation management tool.

2) Identify issues

One of the great weaknesses of Twitter is that people use it to complain about the products and services in their lives. But that also means that, as a reputation management specialist, you can use those complaints to your advantage. If many customers are complain about a new feature you just added to one of your products, you might reconsider that feature. If they’re having trouble loading your website, it’s time to walk down to IT and see what the problem might be.

3) Give thanks

You can also build positive sentiment on Twitter by thanking people who compliment your business and products. Just shoot them a quick “thanks for your kind words.” They’ll be impressed that you’re paying attention and feel personally closer to the brand. You just made a life-long customer.

4) Respond to problems

You’ll gain some great business insights if you monitor Twitter for complaints, but you’ll gain more customers if you actually respond to those complaints. If someone Tweets in frustration about one of your products, send a tweet and ask them how you can help. Point them toward resources and offer to fix the issue yourself. When you can do that, you’ll have changed that customer’s mind about your company and product.

5) Be a resource

Once customers understand that you are online and want to interact with them, you can become a great resource by fielding questions about your products and services. Give your audience the resources to solve their problems and give them tips and tricks to have a better experience with your product. They’ll thank you and recommend you to their friends.

6) Listen

This is similar to “monitor”; however, listening is like monitoring with your heart. Be open and welcoming to your customers. Don’t shrug them off when they ask what you think is a stupid question, but rather encourage them to talk about their problems and issues with you. Be sympathetic and give your brand a human ear.

7) Offer suggestions

When you notice a customer struggling, offer to help before they even ask. Your company has a lot of expertise and knowledge. Offering to help with their issues will go a long way to building trust with the customer and help them form a positive reputation of your company.

Putting “Manage” Back into Reputation Management

Once there was a company that decided it was cheaper to hire cannibals as workers, so a manager brought in a group of cannibals, showed them how to do their jobs, told them that they would be treated just like anyone else in the company but asked that they avoid eating anyone.

A couple of weeks went by when the manager came to the cannibals and said, “You guys are doing a great job, we’ve really enjoyed having you here, but a secretary has gone missing—do you have any idea where she went?” The cannibals shook their heads, and the manager left.

Then the chief cannibal turned to the group and asked, “Alright, who ate the secretary?” One of the men fearfully raised his hand. The chief said, “Now they’re onto us! I’ve been eating managers for weeks, and then you had to go and eat someone important.”

All kidding aside, management is one of those words that smacks of bureaucracy and bean counting—not of accomplishment. But reputation management is about more than checking out the SERPs every once in awhile to see if your reputation is improving. Reputation management takes hard work, dedication, and leadership to accomplish its goals.

In fact, the word “manage” actually has four different meanings that can give us insight into exactly what we should be doing as reputation managers.

To Be In Charge Of

Firstly, “to manage” means to be in charge of something. And being in charge means taking responsibility for one’s actions. As managers of reputation strategies, we need to take responsibility for the reputations of the companies or brand names that we work on. That means going beyond simply making sure the SERPs look good. It means taking an interest and a leadership role when it comes to your company’s reputation and giving a direction and purpose to your efforts. Setting goals, following up, and focusing on the success of your reputation strategy are all part of managing reputation.

To Accomplish

If I manage to pull off a victory in the last seconds of the game with a half-court shot, I’ve accomplished a win for my team. Management isn’t just about making sure the strategy is moving according to plan, it’s about pulling off a victory for your company or brand. In order to accomplish your goals, you have to follow through with your promises and stick with the strategy until you can achieve SERPs that reflect positively on your company or brand.

To Cope

When a reputation crisis occurs, will you manage to turn the crisis around? To manage also means to deal with the situation that is presented to you in a way that does not betray defeat or weakness. Emergencies will arise; crises will occur; but if you have the tenacity and confidence to manage your reputation strategy with strength, you’ll come through the other side with an improved strategy and a better understanding of what it means to manage a reputation.

To Control

Lastly, to manage also means to control something. In reputation management, you need to be in control of your company or brand’s online reputation at all times. If you are vigilant, and constantly monitoring the web, you should be ready or any crisis that may arise. That’s what being in control is—having a knowledge of all possible dangers and planning for them in advance so you’re never caught off guard.

Manage Your Reputation

Although “management” can be a dirty word, it doesn’t have to be. If you can take charge of your strategy, follow it through to the end, and be prepared in advance for any threat, you’ll create a solid reputation management strategy that will protect your company or brand from attack. As for protecting yourself from the cannibals, that’s a different story.

4 Principles for Clearly Defining Your Reputation Management Goals

It’s been said that you can define the difference between management and leadership with a mountain climbing expedition. The leader will sit the group down and talk about getting to the top of the mountain, how glorious it will be, and how we all have to work together to get there.

On the other hand, the manager will coordinate the ropes, carabineers, and make sure everyone is wearing the right equipment for the trip.

Both these jobs are essential for making it to the top of the mountain successfully, but sometimes, in our reputation management strategy planning, we might be too much of one or the other—focusing too much on what we want to achieve, without much detail as to how we’re going to do it, or focusing so much on the details that the overall goal is never reached.

For that reason, it is important to define your goals clearly before creating your reputation management strategy, so everyone is on the same page and all your efforts are focused toward singular goals. That way, you don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it.

If you want your reputation management strategy to succeed, here are four things to keep in mind when setting goals.

1) Keep it Simple

Create a defining statement that clearly summarizes our goals. But don’t make it too complex or include multiple sub points. A great goal statement is simple, direct, and easy to understand. In fact, if it takes you more than one sentence to define your reputation management goal, you probably ought to try again.

For example, “To gain a majority link position in the SERPs though a variety of optimization and linkbuilding activities, including social profiles and business listings, focusing on positive outcomes, to be achieved in the first quarter of 2012,” is not the way to go.

Something better might be: “To achieve 7 of the top 10 results for our branded search term in the next 6 months.” It’s direct, easy to understand, and there is no ambiguity about the goal that needs to be reached.

2) Concrete

In the previous example, the second goal is also more concrete. It focuses on a specific number of results that need to be achieved and sets a specific time frame for when the goal should be achieved. All your reputation management goals should have a concreteness to them that makes them tangible and real. Without a grounding in reality that focuses on specific numbers, timeframes, and outcomes, you run the danger of getting lost, losing sight of your goal, and failing altogether.

 3) Achievable

It can be extremely tempting to set goals that sound great on paper but won’t work in the real world. For example, attempting to get 20 positive articles about your company to rank for a branded search term in 30 days might sound ideal, but it’s probably not achievable.

Although 20 positive links in the SERPs isn’t a bad overall goal, 30 days might be a little quick. And when you don’t achieve it, it can be depressing and disheartening—especially if you worked hard to achieve it. Set smaller goals that you can achieve on your way to your bigger goal. You’ll feel good about your small achievements, and they’ll all build to a bigger goal with a more reasonable time frame.

4) Measurable

Lastly, make sure you set goals that you can measure. If you don’t set measurable goals, you’ll never know if you achieved them or not. For example a goal like, “To improve our company’s online reputation.” Is a commendable, but how do you know when you’ve “improved” your company’s online reputation, when the first 5 results are positive? The first 10? 15? And when are you supposed to complete this goal?

Rather, set goals that you can measure and have deadlines. That way you can stay focused. And when you achieve your goal, you’ll know you’ve accomplished something, and you can move on to the next big milestone.

Any Road Will Take You There

The Cheshire Cat once told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” With a lack of simple, concrete, achievable, and measure goals for your reputation management strategy, you’ll end up wandering down dark paths and dead-end roads instead of glorying in an improved online reputation.

So, as you sit down to create your reputation management strategy, take a look at your goals and see if you know where you’re going before you leave the path and start heading up the mountain.

Other Reputation Management posts:

Reputation Management Should Be the #1 Priority for Public Relations Professionals

In order to get the job you currently have, chances are you applied, went through an interview process, received an offer, and then chose to accept it. But why did you get the job? Was it your background, experience, and impressive resume? Probably. But it also had a lot to do with the interview itself. In an interview you had to look nice, present yourself well, and talk about yourself in a way that made you seem like you knew what you were talking about.

In fact, talking about yourself in an expressive way is key to having a great interview. Someone once gave me this piece of advice for interviewing: “If you don’t talk about yourself, who will?” And the same holds true for reputation management. If you’re an in-house PR professional for a good company, it’s your job to talk about your company; because if you don’t, who will? As such, reputation management should be one of your highest priorities—if not your number one priority. So here are four reasons reputation management should be at the top of your list.

1. Press releases are meaningless

This is not to say that press releases don’t have their place, but there is so much noise in the news media today that another press release is just more white noise. More likely than not, if you send out a nationwide press release, you’ll be lucky if one reporter reads it and decides to write a story about it.

In other words, press releases do no good unless people read them. That’s why, instead of hoping that a reporter will pick up your story, put your press releases to work by optimizing them for reputation management purposes. When you can get your press releases to rank for searches for your company name, not only will more people see and read them, but you’ll be improving your online reputation at the same time.

2. Ads do nothing if you have a bad reputation

Advertising is only useful to your company if you can prove to potential customers that you have a good reputation. If your advertisements are driving searches for your company name, but those customers are seeing “scam reports” and negative reviews in the results. They are much less likely to click through to your website. And all your ad money goes down the toilet. If you can focus on reputation management, you’ll clean the company image, increase traffic, and improve sales conversion all at the same time.

3. No one’s going to toot your horn

Remember, if you don’t show the public what a great company you are, no one else is going to do it for you. When you do community service, give money to non-profits, start a college scholarship, and more, make sure you talk to bloggers and local news outlets, so they’ll write about your company. Once those positive news stories hit the web, promote them and push them as hard as you can, so that they’ll appear in the search results for your company name. When people search for your company online, and they see the positive work your company is doing, they’ll be more than happy to visit your site and buy from you. And that’s what reputation management is all about.

4. Blogs aren’t useful unless people read them

Why is your company blog hidden away in a back corner of your website? Again, no one will know what’s going on at your company unless you show them. For example, you could move your blog to a subdomain, so it will rank separately from your main website. Or push your company news to other websites, so they will publish the wonderful things your company is doing. After you’ve done that, reputation management is about getting those blogs and stories to rank well, so you can build a positive image for your company.

You Can Make or Break Your Online Reputation

 As a PR professional, it’s your job to obtain exposure and coverage for your company. But if no one can see what you are doing (or they’re only seeing negative results when they search your company name), any work you are doing will have virtually no effect. That’s why you need a reputation management strategy that will help improve your image and not undo the work you’ve put into building your brand. Talk about yourself and toot your own horn, or you’ll be leaving the talking to anyone with an internet connection.

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