Reputation Management vs “Hit and Run” Mismanagement

by / Newsroom Ink on 08/03/2011

With few options presented to them, companies executives give into the expensive practice ($1500 -$15,000/mo.) of “reputation mismanagement”that provides little ROI other than having the negative articles pushed from the front page of search engines.

by Springfield Lewis, Newsroom Ink

Spam e-mails are opened rarely opened by Newsroom Ink. In light of the recent News Corp reputation fiasco, we recently broke principle and clicked on one slugged “Improve Online Reputation.”  The disturbing spam offered a so-called online reputation management program. What it was really offering troubled companies, however, was continued “reputation mismanagement.”

Online reputation management is the process of positioning and tracking an entity’s online image for its brand, name or keywords. Most PR professionals have not come to grips with how to accurately and creditably monitor, correct and strengthen the online perception of their clients in the court of public opinion.

Search engine archives are unforgiving. Once online, a story – accurate or inaccurate – is out and it’s there for the duration.

In the digital social media era, PR hacks and flacks work with computer programmers to devise an algorithm to drive reputation-damaging stories deep into search engine archives. Damaging articles were targeted and linked to “fake” websites equipped with often-nonsensical SEO posts.

These mismanagement manipulators remove unfavorable results about products, services, brand names and websites from the first page of search engines by displacing them with positive links and neutral content. That’s not reputation management. Rather, it’s just search engine containment.

By posting on site after site almost identical articles filled with key words, photos and videos – all key components for search engines –damaging articles are pushed further into search engines’ forgotten archives.

This run-and-hide reputation management accomplishes little in establishing a credible reputation for either the client or the PR professionals using the technique. Even the worse reporter at the now defunct News of the World would have little trouble exposing a company or PR firm hiding behind the questionable ethics of the practice.

Fear and negativity fuel this mismanagement. PR hacks continue to promote them in the C-Suite. With few options presented, executives give into the expensive practice ($1,500 -$15,000/month) that delivers little ROI – other than having negative articles pushed from the front page.

The dynamic online newsroom is proved to be a worthy communications tool for reputation management. Born from crisis, it has evolved into an effective best practice, according to the Communications Executive Council study, “How to Build a Leading Online Newsroom.”

A dynamic newsroom tied directly to the business agenda becomes the content engine that drives a company’s online social media presence. Unlike run¬-and-hide mismanagement, a newsroom enables a company to express its thought leadership by directly addressing damaging information.

This forum can take the corporate conversation to a higher level – and, at the same time – push negative reports into the archives through responsible SEO management.

Dynamic newsrooms also invite others – including employees, customers and business partners – to tell stories in ways that increase a company’s credibility and brand.

This balanced brand journalism blends different perspectives, offering well-grounded points of view and fresh insight into a company’s operations and relationships.

The power of an online newsroom comes from:

  • Aligning content to the CEO or business agenda.
  • Creating a clear line of sight into the business – for employees, customers, suppliers and other shareholders.
  • Offering a platform for executives to express their thought leadership.
  • Creating shared communities of interest through credible stories about the business and industry.
  • Building credibility for corporate reputation through open and transparent communications with various stakeholders.
  • Real reputation management involves creating an authentic online voice and maintaining a respected image through credible news.

It is not about running and hiding from the negative. Instead, it’s about taking the conversation to a higher level – accurately and thoughtfully – told through a company’s unique and informed perspective.

 


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