The act of influencing and controlling the way others view a person or business is known as reputation management. This is a term whose origins are public relations. It has become a very central component of search engine results because of the steps that have been made in the use of social media and the role played by companies that specialize in reputation management. It is important to note that not all tactics used in reputation management are positive.
There are times when practices such as astroturfing sites that review products and services and censoring unfavorable feedback from clients are used. These are known as ethical gray areas in the world of online reputation management. It is advisable to make use of ethical forms of reputation management. These include responding to the complaints made by customers and requesting site administrators to bring down content that may be putting one’s name or company name and reputation in a negative light.
Origins of Online Reputation Management
The main reason the practice was started was to broaden the scope of public relations and include areas that were outside the media. It has been said that this was the reason for the corporate public relations in the Fortune 500 companies since the beginning of the new millennium. The internet and social media has gained a lot of popularity, especially in the second decade of the 21st century. Nowadays, it is very easy to tell what customers think of a certain person of business by simply typing their name or the name of their business in the search engine. This has led to the manufacturers and sellers of different products and services to great creative in order to gain popularity among the consumers. Some of the tactics that have been applied include selling goods at discounted prices in places such as eBay.
The process also includes assessing the entire online image of a company, and isolating the negative part and addressing the problem from the source. In addition to trying to fix companies and the people who may already have a bad reputation, the practice monitors the activities of an entity and is able to predict the early signs of content that could potentially cause a reputation problem. As you can see, the main focus of these online reputation management companies is negative search engine results. When ORM companies are hired by an entity, they set out to harmonize the way the entity views itself and how other people view it.
Other techniques that are used by ORM experts include:
• Doing SEO on materials that have been published by the company with a special focus on testimonials from happy and satisfied customers. This is done in an attempt to counter any negative content that could be out there. This positive content will be tagged such that it will reach a wider audience.
• The ORM companies will create and publish good websites and profiles on social media. The reputation management company will counter the problem of negative search results.
• The companies also create press releases and submit them to websites that have been established as authorities in their niche. This is done to try and suppress the negative content.
• If the ORM Company has reason to strongly believe that you have been libeled, they can submit legally binding documents to the source of the slander and have them bring down the content.
• They can organize with companies that rank well in search engines to mention your company in a positive way.
• At times, the company may decide to use the so-called grey hat techniques such as creating fake blogs in your name but managed by another person to try and have people review that fake blog instead of the real one.
• Creating anonymous accounts and participating in third party website discussions by giving positive reviews on your company and fighting the negative commentary.
• Giving incentives to the people who like doing lots of reviews so that they can go a little soft on you.
Ethical Issues Arising From ORM
As mentioned, there are certain techniques that are not exactly what would be called playing fair in online reputation management. One of the major sources of issues is the fact that no one has taken the time to try and indicate where the lines should be drawn on practices such as censoring criticism and astroturfing. There are also times when an attempt to hide negative information and fail and when the people realize what the company was doing the reputation problem worsens.
Big Blue Robot
There are good companies such as Big Blue Robot that stick only to the positive forms of reputation management. These companies will not do anything that is unethical, or that could lead to further damage to your company’s reputation. When looking for someone to handle online reputation management for you, you should always make sure they know how far is too far.