THE THIN LINE BETWEEN REPUTATION MANAGEMENT AND SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Does reputation management need reputation management?
The catch phrase of the month is ‘Online Reputation Management’. You hear it because, in theory, companies are waging online battles against the dark forces of online media, bloggers, chat rooms, Twitter-verse and citizen journalists who can destroy reputations with the click of a finger. Consider Star Wars theme music simultaneously playing in the background. You must proactively, not reactively, act–fast. Your business is very much at stake TODAY.
When we originally launched in 2007, the term ‘reputation management’ did not exist. People would laugh at my expense saying I had a bad business plan. I was an ‘image consultant specializing in crisis management’. I have since redefined my role to meet the needs and desires of current and prospective clientele – ranging from the lesser known entrepreneurs to the most successful businessmen.
With that said, the current spotlight on reputation management yields many tough questions to follow. On August 6th 2012 The Wall street Journal points out that reputation management companies could use reputation management.
There is a real problem in this industry because people are attempting to use a quick fix attitude when serious time and energy goes into brand, image and reputation. The biggest issue is describing what the job entails and helping my clients understand that reputation management is not just about getting you off the first three pages of google.
The first, most common, question I am asked is ‘what exactly constitutes the work of a ‘reputation management firm’? Many companies define reputation management as … ‘the practice of monitoring the Internet reputation of a person, brand or business, pushing negative information down and positive information up’. Sometimes it can be as simple as getting more sites, new content and positive messages circulating in order to ensure an ideal first impression. The fact is that •66% of consumers use the internet to research an item a company or an individual before doing business. I will make sure that your first impression is optimal.
Generally speaking, the next question is ‘is what you are speaking about just search engine optimization’? Well, for starters, I have amazing partnerships with strong search engine optimization firms. I find some of my best clients are through referrals from SEO companies and vice versa. We compliment one another. However, there i one key component that makes us different. BRAND! Nebulous terms and answers abound to the questions proposed, but to me, it is crystal clear. When discussing a future partnership with a prospective client, I thoroughly explore/investigate/evaluate/challenge the many ways we can capitalize on your image while maintaining a unique and competitive message. The question ‘how is your business different’ is a complicated question, with a simple answer, that sums up what reputation management means to me. This is what defines me as a visionary leader in my field – innovative, ambitious and invaluable in this market.
The most critical component to being a successful reputation consultant is to help your clientele clearly define their key ‘message’ and understand their brand. One can always try their best to react and respond to criticism and negative talk to bloggers/twitter feeds in order to combat the impression presented online. Yet they will always fall short if they are missing the customer service and the well packaged product that is essential for your reputation to be sustained. Know your target market, as a start. But also know that only so much can be salvaged after a reputation is severely damaged. As Ben Franklin said it takes many good deeds to build a reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.