Tuesday, 07 February 2017 02:39

BUSINESS SCORE CARD: Reputation Management and how to clean up online dirt


Everything that appears on the internet about you and your company is as indelible as astronaut footsteps on the moon. That's fine as long as the information is positive, but what if it is negative? Maybe an unhappy customer or a vicious competitor felt like telling something negative to the world. What can you do to vacuum up this dirt?

A relatively new industry has cropped up to deal with these unfortunate situations. For a small fortune, you can have reputation managers fix or bury negative search results. You are unlikely to get retractions from the people who spread the dirt or to persuade a website or internet service provider to remove it. So the only way to minimize the damage is to create new, positive comments that will drive the negatives off Google's first page of search results. It's important for a company to develop a fast, strategic response to negative online information in order to prevent further damage to the brand.

I asked some reputation managers, via helpareporter.com, about what they do and how much they charge for this service.

John David, president of the David PR Group and author of a new book, "How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online" (OnlineRepBook.com), suggests that suppression is just one way to approach the issue. "The first solution is to make an effort to get negative content removed at the source. Believe it or not, we have had success by simply identifying the right person at a blog site or other site and asking to have content taken down. It doesn't always work, but it is almost always worth a try.

"The second option is what I call the covert operations of reputation management," David said. "Some companies have identified ways to get content removed from search results or even removed at the hosting level by leveraging the many terms and conditions which every piece of online content must abide by. It works in some cases but can be expensive."

The reputation management trade has major players, such as reputation.com, but most people hire their neighborhood search-engine optimization firm, with marginal success.

Most clients want content gone from search results. Many believe suppression is the only way to go. Sometimes, it is the only solution.

Nataliya Yakushev, with Rubenstein Communications, said, "The pricing model for reputation management is typically a monthly retainer and includes public relations support. The most sought-after services are search suppression (replacing negative, outdated articles with fresh up-to-date content) and digital branding. Digital branding for a company or an individual includes digital asset creation and optimization, thought leadership amplification and creation of controlled digital assets.

"Reputation management industry players vary from small SEO firms to full-service marketing agencies that offer online reputation management," Yakushev said. "Every reputation-management case is unique and requires a blend of web development, SEO, content creation and public relations." 

According to Julia Angelen Joy, a public relations consultant with Z Group PR, the price will vary based on the expected level of service. Cost estimates may range from $100 to $350 per hour for an experienced communications consultant. Monthly retainers can range from $100 to $1,000 or more.

Joy cited several questions that need to be answered, "Whether the problem consists of online issues only or real life reputation issues? Is it the corporation or an individual? Is there a current or recent crisis, or is this a business-branding strategy? Are there published media articles or online product reviews? What is the timeline? Does the company need to make something disappear or show improved customer service?

"Removing online content is difficult, but a strong PR strategy may help to bury it," Joy said. The speed of resolution will increase costs.

Brad Chase, Partner with Capitol Media Partners, said, "Big traditional firms with offices across the nation or globe will regularly charge hundreds of thousands of dollars per month with a minimum contract length. They generally scoff at any type of work where the client wants to pay less than $25,000.

"There has been massive growth in boutique firms, where senior executives who have worked at the UN, White House, cable TV networks and Fortune 500 companies gravitate to take on more of a consulting role - giving direct advice and less fieldwork in exchange for prices in the $20-50k range," Chase said. "Finally, there's the bottom rung: People who know how social media promotions (basic marketing communication) work but are unschooled in the difference between brand and reputation. Some rake in huge billings, but most are willing to just undercut the competition for the quick paycheck. With these guys, you get what you pay for. They'll take whatever they can get."

Of course, the best advice is not to need a reputation manager in the first place.

Author : Dennis Zink

Source : http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20170206/business-score-card-reputation-management-and-how-to-clean-up-online-dirt


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