MasterMind Digital Branding Solutions has worked with corporate executives for online reputation management as well as professional athletes who need reputation and brand management.
Reputation Management: What Organizations Need to Know About their Most Important Asset
Organizations and businesses rely more on their reputation than owners may realize. In fact, one may argue that it is an organization’s most important asset. If a company ruins its reputation, their people might lose their jobs. It’s more important than people think.
Even surviving a harmful PR disaster can be very expensive and painful, causing a lot of headaches for a lot of people throughout the organization. The company loses profit, partners, customers, sales, and even employees.
For this reason, reputation should be a part of a company’s personal branding. Not only do owners and managers have to be careful when it comes to how they interact online and in person, they also need to be proactive. They need to monitor their web presence, and ensure that the company’s brand and voice remains distinct and untarnished.
One of the greatest benefits to online reputation management is the ability to choose how the target audience perceives the business. Controlling the information that are being released to the public via social media networks and other avenues can help maintain a trustworthy image of the company to potential patrons. It is not just about online advertising, crisis management, or reputation protection.
The central idea of reputation marketing is delivering trustworthy service and making sure that it shines through whenever people talk about the company, its people, and its products. Businesses that are heavily involved in social networking are particularly reliant on reputation management because it spends most of its time online. While a strong online presence is very important nowadays, it also comes with the hurdle that is having to manage every single post carefully. Done right, it can do wonders for an organization.
Consistency is also very important when managing a brand across different platforms. If a customer sees the company conveying one image on one site and a different image on another site, they might feel as though the company is not credible or trustworthy. This means they are more likely to take their business elsewhere.
Customers want to feel as though they are purchasing products and services from a trustworthy source. Online reputation management can help companies maintain a level of consistency that allows them to convey this type of image.
What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is the practice of attempting to shape public perception, be it of a person or an organization. The keyword here is ‘attempting’ because reputation is sometimes an unpredictable thing. One wrong interaction with a customer and it can all come crumbling down. And sometimes, when the public’s perception is already set on one thing, it can be hard to steer them towards a different direction. Reputation management is also called rep management, online reputation management, or ORM.
Public relations campaigns may be conducted to increase the visibility of positive opinions, as well as to decrease the visibility of negative opinions. Some companies focus on making positive content pieces to try and counter negative organic content. The reputation manager posts positive pieces in sufficient numbers to make the negative commentary display less prominently in search results. This is important because customers may lose interest if they read bad things about a company when they look it up.
Reputation managers may also join conversations to report good experiences about their respective organization or company, for example responding to tweets complaining about the company.
In order to do this, the reputation manager needs to monitor references to the person or business through social media monitoring and carefully crafted search queries. They listen to what the people are saying. This creates a ‘snapshot’ of current public opinion of the person or business in question, helping the organization create a campaign to address any problematic issues that have been revealed.
There are artificial ways to at least attempt to affect an organization’s online reputation—but there is no way to effectively create a false impression with any lasting power. Digital reputation can be influenced somewhat through blog posting, social listening, and maintaining a positive brand. But the conversations about the local business cannot be controlled.
According to research by the Nielson consulting group, 53 percent of adults follow particular brands online and 60 percent of users of social networking sites write reviews of products and services.
Given the number of people willing to discuss real customer experiences—particularly negative ones—the only way to create a positive online reputation is through appropriate behaviour.
So beyond monitoring social media presence and customer interactions, the most effective form of reputation management is through honest and efficient customer service.
What Does Reputation Management Services Entail?
When it comes to reputation management, a quick response is always preferable. Reputation managers should be agile and ready to spring into action. It may mean removing negative comments to blogs, news articles, or on social media. Sometimes this requires legal activity, or sometimes it’s just all about contacting a site administrator for removal.
At the same time, a company’s presence is very important. A bad reputation can damage the company, but having no reputation at all is equally challenging. Companies need to strive to own the top 10 returns on relevant Google searches. Asserting dominance when it comes to search results can boost a company’s credibility, improve their image, and attract more customers.
Online press releases can help maintain a positive image. If a company is not releasing them, they might be getting left out. Press releases allow companies to steer the view of their reputation to a more positive one. It also helps fill those search results. The press releases need to be seeded with powerful search-relevant key words and phrases in order for this to work.
Large organizations tend to have a Wikipedia page dedicated to them. It is important to monitor this as well. Even smaller companies can get one. And just like running a large business, regularly reviewing relevant pages is vital.
Why is Reputation Management Difficult and Expensive?
Reputation management is not an easy task. Big companies that suddenly experienced massive PR disasters will know how difficult and expensive it is to try and recover from all that lost business. Restoring good reputation is even harder than maintaining a positive one.
And so hiring an expert is the best way to do it. Avoiding these disasters in the first place can save the company a lot of money. Having an expert on board to keep the company on the right track can save owners from a lot of headaches down the road.
For smaller businesses, there are online experts that can assist in fixing their online reputation for a hundred bucks—but the competence of these experts can be hard to determine from the get-go. There is also no guarantee that they would use tried and tested online reputation management tools or advanced seo. For bigger firms, hiring professionals and actual PR experts may result in quotes starting at $10,000 per month. Experts are sure to use reputation management techniques to ensure that happy customers are in the spotlight.
The former might be a waste of money if the company ends up hiring someone who is not actually equipped with the knowledge or experience needed to manage a brand’s image. The latter only makes sense for large companies or big brands.
So for those who are unfamiliar with working with a reputation manager or PR expert, avoiding these two extremes may be a good place to start. Fair pricing for reputation management tends to be somewhere in the middle for most people. A solid campaign may come out around $10,000 to $55,000. This campaign will typically last several months to a year.
Prices vary depending on the company. But more difficult cases tend to be more expensive because it depends on the amount of work needed to improve how the company looks online. This is just one of the many factors affecting the price of reputation management. Some factors affect the cost more than others.
If a company has negative search results or has limited information about them online, the price of reputation management may be higher. It also depends on the level of customization the owner wants. Negative search results in particular can result in higher costs. PR experts have to navigate through these negative search results, poor reviews, or negative social media presence before they can even begin to fix the problems. All of these issues affect the company in many ways. Dealing with them properly takes time and effort.
If the negative piece of content that is talking about the business is posted on a website that has authority and its own following, then the price of PR might be higher. At the same time, handling a piece of negative articles that is not on an authoritative website might cost lower in order to clean things up. This is because it will not be difficult to suppress the negative content. If the content exists on a site like the New York Times, for example, it is going to be much harder to control the reactions from it. There is more work that needs to be done to fix the problem, and so the project might be more expensive. Managing this type of reputation might require more content creation, link building, search engine optimization, potential paid promotion, etc.
Though these problems might not be easy to fix, it is possible to fix them with proper reputation management. Though costly, it can certainly make the business more profitable for the long term, so investing on it is worth the price.