Introduction To Reputation Management

In theReputation Management old days, when bad news came out about an individual or business, resources on how to deal with the problem or “get the word out” were limited. In most cases, the specific problem could be localized and dealt with on a word of mouth basis and/or by a gradual rectification of previous actions. However, today’s virtual world is much different, with even the most minute of circumstances finding themselves communicated in real time across the Internet. Regardless of whether you represent a large firm or are simply the victim of a rumor, social media websites, live television, search engines and other outlets can significantly harm your reputation and make it difficult for you to conduct business or even improve personal relationships. Here at Reputable.com, our aim is to provide readers with relevant content on different situations that are a direct result of reputation sabotage, useful tools to assist you in dealing with problems, and create an open line of communication with our readership.

What Is Reputation Management?

According to the official Wikipedia site, Reputation management is the understanding or influencing of an individual’s or business’s reputation. It was originally coined as a public relations term, but advancement in computing, the internet and social media made it primarily an issue of search results. Although it is often associated with ethical grey areas, such as astroturfing review sites, censoring negative complaints or using SEO tactics to game the system and influence results, there are also ethical forms of reputation management, such as responding to customer complaints, asking sites to take down incorrect information and using online feedback to influence product development.”

Often, it is best to be open and responsive whenever possible; as this can be the best way to get your own message across while increasing exposure for your business. Personally, I have a friend who is in charge of a local restaurant and received a high profile negative review that was posted (and later re-posted) on several social media websites. Before she knew it, diner levels had dropped while even the most loyal regulars inquired about the reason behind the “poor service.” Rather than getting upset about the criticism, she took it to heart, offered an apology to the reviewer, met with staff, and implemented changes before the situation got out of hand. Unfortunately this resulted in one long-time waiter losing his job, but it turned out the experience wasn’t isolated to a single reviewer and that customers had been “putting up with the bad attitude for years.” By acknowledging a problem, the restaurant owner was able to quickly assuage the hurt feelings of returning diners and even attracted new business thanks to time-tested menu selections.

The Individual

But what should be done in cases where social media and other methods are used to ruin an individual’s reputation? Believe it or not, this happens for reasons that many of us would not deem pertinent. For example, “x-person” offended someone else through written or verbal words, or another person may get the royal negative treatment for actions that may not have been initially thought of as harmful. When these circumstances arise, seeing your name at the top of search engines tagged along with negative feedback can go a long way to damaging one’s self esteem and can even ruin a career.

So from this point forward, our aim here will be to publish content on turning a negative into a positive – for both corporate and personal situations. Although some go as far as to hire expensive consulting services to mend fences, proper measures can often be taken with little or even no overhead.

Thanks for taking the time to read through our introductory article. We look forward to communicating more of our insight and knowledge here at Reputable.com.

Why Reputation Management Matters

During the days when the internet was just getting traction, a company’s reputation usually relied on word of referrals, press releases, coverage from newspapers and rating agencies like the Better Business Bureau. At the time, it was normal only for large companies with deep pockets to hire their own PR staff or employ expensive public relations firms to manage their public opinion. Now that the internet has been widely adopted by the public, large corporations, small businesses and even individuals are quickly realizing that they are being forced to manage their online reputation or risk face an internet backlash.

Small business owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo know this all too well. The couple, who own Amy’s Baking Company, recently appeared on the popular TV show, “Kitchen Nightmares”, starring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. After being uncooperative on the show, Mr. Ramsey “fired” the two owners amid the drama.

A decade ago, the Bouzaglo’s TV escapades may have simply ended the next day around the company water cooler. Unfortunately for the couple, with the new internet paradigm, the unscripted TV drama quickly escalated to the internet, after fans of the show began posting on the company’s website. Rather than trying to de-escalate the situation, the Bouzaglos began attacking the posters, which in turn drew a larger counter-attack and spiraled into a vicious cycle that eventually resulted in a full public relations meltdown for the restaurant owners. A post-mortem shows their Yelp listing decimated with hundreds of 1-star reviews, a play-by-play analysis on the evening news and a case study in what happens when reputation management goes wrong.

Though the Bouzaglo’s are an extreme example, restaurant owners and small business owners for years have started feeling the heat of managing their reputation. One nasty review left on a review site or any number of consumer complaint boards such as Rip Off Report can directly affect how a customer views that company and may lead business elsewhere. With market data showing that the large majority of consumers to Google a company before utilizing their product or services, it has become imperative for businesses to control how they are seen by both existing and potential customers. Even an individual with an unfortunate same name as a convicted felon (think Bernie Madoff) may find themselves the poor recipient of unwanted attention.

Reputation management is essentially dictating how companies and individuals want to be seen by others on the internet. The task of doing so has often been mystifying, often with references to search engine optimization and social media. The truth is that anyone with time and effort is capable of learning how to manage their search engine results.

Here at Reputable.com, our engineers have been working with search engines since the early days of Google and understand search better than most. While we can tell you that total control of search results may be unrealistic, it is possible to manage your results and reputation so that you can put your best foot forward.

We’re looking forward to showing you how.