Online Reputation Management: Balancing Reactive and Proactive Across PR, Social and Digital

stir agency milwaukee

STIR Staff

Sep 14

Online reputation management (ORM) is often misunderstood, as many see it only as a social media effort or a public relations crisis management tactic. It’s really an integrated approach, when done thoroughly, that a brand should use proactively every day. This requires planning ahead and dedicated strategies to develop positive online assets.

The background

The inception of social media gave consumers a vehicle to express their voices directly and without censorship. Either for all the right reasons or wrong ones, people are talking about you: commenting on or reviewing products on Amazon; tweeting opinions about your brand on Twitter; checking in to your establishment on Facebook or snapping a #nofilter image to Instagram.

The ability to both monitor and moderate the conversation across an entire digital landscape is vitally important to a brand’s image.

More than social

Many categorize ORM as social media monitoring. Although true to a point, this label sells short the effort that goes into the exercise.

Yes, a lot of ORM occurs on social networks, but other highly damaging content can be found elsewhere around the web – e-commerce sites (like Amazon), Google reviews, blogs and more. It’s these additional locations and conversations that often prove the most difficult to remedy. Unlike a social post, reviews and negative comments are archived and hold prominence with search engines; they are more likely to appear in search results on any brand or product/service question.

Ready, set, remedy

How do we combat negative press and opinion in the digital space? First, identify the needs to address:

  • Monitor all social platforms in which your brand participates
  • Review interactions and comments on brand website/blog
  • Sign up for Google Alerts to monitor keywords or phrases
  • Work with internal public relations, customer service and legal stakeholders to develop a crisis scenario plan for potential serious issues to allow a faster response should a crisis unfold

After possible dangers are identified, develop a plan to combat any negative repercussions:

  • Decide which social interactions merit a response
  • Moderate website/blog comment(s) and respond either publicly or discretely to the commenter
  • Respond to forum or discussion board comments
  • Reply to poor reviews or comments on large e-commerce platforms such as Amazon
  • Secure positive reviews from happy customers and clients to build digital equity
  • Use a heavy dose of positive search engine optimization (SEO) work to suppress negative returns in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages)

The Wrap

ORM may be difficult to classify as it touches a variety of communication and digital disciplines, but that’s why it’s so important to do it right. Good practitioners should balance scenario planning, managing reactive responses and also working proactively to secure positive reviews from happy customers and clients. These positive third-party endorsements become critical brand equity to offset the time you receive a poor review. (Yes, you will undoubtedly get one!)

Take a proactive approach, collaborating with the right players internally and externally, and make it a part of regular digital maintenance.