If you are in the process, or thinking about setting goals for your company in 2015, make sure you have Reputation Management factored into them. At its core, Reputation Management is online brand management. While it is commonly thought of as the method in which to downgrade or hide unwanted negative reviews (or conversely upgrade and highlight positive ones), with the pervasiveness of digital marketing it has evolved into so much more.
I like to think of Mediaura's Reputation Management team as part technology experts and part PR gurus. While we often have clients come to us in the midst of a PR storm that needs quick resolving, we also work with organizations that want to make sure they are always being shown in the best light. It is this latter group that is able to take proactive measures to anticipate any potential issues. Why? Because they're always acutely aware of their public persona and are immediately made aware of any issues the minute they occur. These issues are then immediately resolved, circumventing any potential fall-out.
We have also had clients come to us when their previous attempts to rebuild their reputation after a fallout have failed. Let's say that your company experienced a problematic, yet true, situation years ago. While your organization may have made every effort to fix the situation and move on, it's still lingering in the digital ether. If you're not working with an organization that knows how to put your company back into a positive spotlight, you're always going to be haunted by that event.
Protecting Your Reputation Is Important
A US survey by Burson-Marsteller found that 95% of chief executives surveyed believed that corporate reputation plays an important or very important role in the achievement of business objectives. Yet only 19% had a formal system in place to measure and monitor the value of their corporate reputation.
With the rise of digital utilization amongst consumers, your number one marketing priority should be developing an online reputation that exceeds the competition. Why do I say this? It's because all of your other marketing efforts, whether they be Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, digital marketing (PPC), or offline such as print, radio, or TV will ultimately lead the consumer to learn more about you online.
It is in the digital realm that a less-than-sterling or non-existent reputation will drive potential clients and consumers away. Most business owners fail to realize that what consumers want is information that will help them feel confident they’re making the best, most well-reasoned purchase. A great deal of that confidence comes in the form of online reviews, digital presence, online branding, etc.
Both individuals and organizations will see benefits from investing in Reputation Management, and I cannot stress this enough. You have most likely spent years in your career and/or building your business, but there are now many factors that can quickly make all of that blood, sweat, and tears for naught. The way people speak of you or your brand online is quickly becoming the single most important reflection of your company's realiability, skill and quality - and this applies across all industries.
In Nielsen’s most recent Global Trust in Advertising study, 70% of global consumers indicated they trust online reviews from strangers when making purchasing decisions or deciding to do business with a company.
Imagine for a moment these two scenarios:
Over a decade ago, an individual made a very public and damaging mistake in their career. They spent years regretting that decision and abandoned their position and career. Later on, they found a new, honest career and took a promising job. However shortly after taking that position, a coworker searched for them on Google, uncovering their past. They were immediately terminated.
Another case is when an industry leader found that they were the subject of a disparaging article from a major news network. In a matter of hours, the article was ranking in the search engines for the company’s name. Clients started calling inquiring about the news report, asking “are the allegations true?” They weren’t, but their reputation was tarnished.
When prospective customers, employees or clients are searching for you, what are the search returns that they are going to see? Is a negative review or unfavorable article the number two listing for your name? Or will they be reading glowing reviews and acclamatory stories about your business ethic or corporate growth?
A negative online reputation can impact your business in a variety of ways. It may simply become the catalyst for a user clicking on a competitor's website instead of yours, or it may become as damaging as a boycott of your products and/or services. This is why it's so important to take-charge of your reputation. This is an instance where ignorance is not bliss and can ruin so much in a short amount of time.
Reputation Management Is More Than Just Reviews
While many people associate Reputation Management with protecting your name and reputation from being aligned with negative reviews, it has expanded into offering a great deal more for businesses and organizations. It's not only about protecting you from negative press, but it's also about making sure that other companies don't piggy-back on that success either. In my opinion, this is where the true payoff of actively monitoring your reputation comes into play.
Here is an example of a situation Mediaura recently encountered with one of our clients that invests in their Reputation Management. This company has devoted a great deal of time and money into their SEO, digital marketing and online presence. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a keyword or category they are targeting where they are not the number one result or on the first page of search returns.
Since we are always actively monitoring their online reputation we've been able to provide them with the opportunity to address potentially harmful situations (such as negative reviews) as soon as they arise. However sometimes the issues that come to pass with Reputation Management aren't the result of a disgruntled ex-employee at all. For instance, with this most recent situation we discovered that a hack on a completely unrelated industry website was directing consumers to a competitor's address. While I've changed the actual industries, here is a run-down as to what happened.
In this instance, if a user was to do a search for, "Best Restaurant In New York" they would see our client on the first page of results. In fact, they would see articles about our client dominating the entire first page of results. Except in this instance two of those returns only mimicked the keywords and meta-data our client utilized and instead were directing traffic to a completely different website, let's say a "lawyer's" website. When users clicked on that link they were immediately redirected to a competitor's restaurant instead.
Someone was hijacking our client's SEO and maliciously leveraging another website to do so. Aside from being unethical (and arguably illegal), it could cause potential damage not only for our client, but for the lawyer as well. For our client, they could lose potential consumers to a competitor, but for the lawyer the damage could be much worse. You see, Google would identify the lawyer's website as being malicious and could potentially blacklist them...and that's something no one would want to have happen, especially if they weren't aware their website was infected at all.
In this case that is exactly what the situation turned out to be.
As soon as we noticed the issue for our client, we contacted the "lawyer's" website to notify them of a potential breach. When we were unable to contact them directly, we reached out to their hosting provider and notified them of the situation. Unaware of the security breach themselves, the hosting firm ran a scan and confirmed that the website in question had experienced an intrusion. Whereupon their hosting provider immediately took the website offline until the owner could be contacted and the issue resolved. We also contacted the competitor that was benefitting from the redirect to make them aware of the situation, because ultimately they would be held accountable for any damage that resulted for this breach. We notified Google and within a short amount of time, the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of our client...and to the satisfaction of the other hosting provider that was able to neutralize a security issue on their end.
In this instance, Reputation Management was beneficial to our client, and all of the other parties involved, as they were able to identify the anomalies as soon as they occurred. Without Reputation Management all parties involved would have been risking:
- - Blacklisting from Google
- - Loss of revenue to competitors
- - Further security issues
- - Damage to their reputation
- - much more
Mediaura Can Protect Your Reputation
Mediaura takes the online reputations of our clients seriously. We know that 87% of Internet users do a search before doing business with a company and the online presence of your organization is critical to its success. Negative reviews, blog posts, and comments - or worse, no presence in search results at all - can send prospective customers straight to your competitors. Security breaches, malware, and hacking can cause serious potential issues for companies as well.
For additional information about Reputation Management or one of our other services, please contact Mediaura today at (502) 554-9649 or complete our convenient online form and a representative will contact you with the information you need and make recommendations to start improving your online reputation today.