As CEO of Massive PR, Brook Zimmatore is no stranger to boardroom meetings full of fiery emotions as online haters close in to destroy the good reputation of a company. With clients such as Liberty Bank, Thomson, Adidas, and PWC, the role of a reputation company also includes calming nerves and bringing in programs to sooth company executives from their current natural rage-response in dealing with an online attacker.
I had a chance to chat with Mr. Zimmatore on his thoughts about reputation management and the insight may prove to be of use to small, medium or large businesses.
Business owners are being put under a great deal of scrutiny these days. It feels like there is a spotlight shining on them 24/7. One false move could leave your career or brand in ruins. The internet has the ability to destroy global corporate businessmen and small businesses alike.
Digital freedom and mass communication media constitute a need to protect your online reputation at all costs. If you make a mistake or fail to address customer/public issues in relation to your brand, you don’t want stories about it dominating your page one search result, or topping trending news stories. Once they smell blood, you’ll never shake them off. Here are a couple of ways you can ensure your online reputation is protected from defamation.
1. The cost of reputation management
Don’t be afraid to invest in your online reputation or brand credibility. One negative result on Google can deter 76% of potential online buyers or customers. Remove negative search results from the internet liberally and remove bad reviews on specific sites too when possible. The monetary loss of negative content is far beyond the cost of controlling it.
Brook Zimmatore says it’s a necessary expense worth every penny. People sometimes shy away from hiring an online reputation firm to handle defamation cases due to costs associated with it, which typically is an unwise business decision. For instance, Elon Musk came out and said one bad review cost Tesla up to $100 million in lost revenue. That’s a heavy hit for one media article. But the cost damage equivalent is equal for smaller companies. Restaurants, consultants, financial advisors the like are likely to first have due diligence performed by their potential customers on the internet.
2. Investing in a little SEO
The first page of Google sees about 92 percent of search traffic. Good reputation management depends greatly on keeping your name at the top of search-results, free of negative or slanderous content.
If you or your company name appears in a negative light on the first page, It might be worth investing a little money in SEO or some media placements. This should be done before investing in further paid ads as negative results will defeat the ads.
3. Domain and brand control
Another possible resolution is buying up domain names relevant to your company that haters or trolls might use. The same thing applies to social media platforms that become popular. Essentially, you want to 100% own your name and control your brand.
If someone else owns it they could post anything they wanted. Just imagine what people would think if they search your company and are directed to hate site (or negative public forum). It’s better if you don’t give them an opportunity to view it in the first place.
4. Controlling video platforms
Remember, YouTube is a part of Google too. It also happens to be the second largest search engine in the world, so if someone makes a defamatory video about you, there’s a high probability people will find it.
When branding a company online any reputation management program should minimally include some form of video distribution program. Make a bunch short videos, put your company name in the title, use keywords liberally on the descriptions. This way it will show up on Google and Youtube for your brand.
If you have a scenario of defamation on Youtube, you can start by using the reporting tool to get the video reviewed for abuse.
5. Monitor your name and brand
Take a few minutes to set up Google Alerts. It will let you know the second someone mentions your name or any other keywords you decide to use. It’s also possible to use software to do the same on social media.
It’s impossible to stop people from saying bad things about you, but it’s easy to control the situation straight away. Usually, it’s better not to interact with the users posting the content, as that can lead to further reputation issues unless it is an existing customer and you know you can “make good” on the problem. This usually leads to the review being removed.
6. Strive to do better
Right now you might be wondering how you can push down negative search results. What if they didn’t even appear, to begin with? You need to remember all of the negative content isn’t created by sociopaths.
Most people will be quite happy to see you succeed, but if you don’t have proper systems in place to handle customer service or brand related issues, they’ll attack you. The truth is making yourself accessible to the public in a friendly and transparent manner that doesn’t stir up customer upset goes a long way.
You Need to Be Very Careful When Online
The majority of people fail to realize that what’s said online becomes available for people to find almost instantaneously on multiple platforms. A reputable PR or reputation management firm can help advise you on how to approach your external image with consumers or followers in a large way. Protect your reputation and do everything you can to project a positive image.
This is a featured post by site supporter Andre Smith
Photo: Getty Images