No matter how good your press release has been written, if it does not get any mileage online, nobody will know about your product or service. Reputation management experts note that it’s not enough that you have a perfectly written promotional piece. You have to get people to talk about you. This is where fostering a relationship with reporters and industry influencers comes in.
Decide What You Want To Happen And Focus
Reporters get dozens of letters and emails every day from friends and strangers pitching stories and hoping to get their products or businesses featured. Because of this flood of messages, chances are, the reporter will have only a split second to decide if he or she wants to give your message attention or not. What do you do to stand out? Find out what they are interested in and anchor from there.
Do not spam writers and editors. In addition to being annoying, it will not help your brand at all and will only further flood his or her inbox. To get noticed, find out first what the writer or publication’s demographics and target readers are. That’s what you build on.
For example, if you are selling an orange juice, don’t pitch to a writer who’s only interested in apple juice. If you must, relate the benefits of orange juice alongside apple juice so the media person will have something to write about. Of course, this is an oversimplification — but surely you get the idea. Pitching to somebody who will find no value in your product or service is a waste of time.
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thinly
Sending out your press release to every possible news agency, writer and editor available is no way to effectively promote your business. This is lazy and sloppy work. Worse, it can brand you as a jack of all trades but master of none. Create a niche. Find out which publications have some relation to your product. Research which writers are likely to give you the time of day. Know their beats and areas of expertise. That’s how you create a positive reputation.
Once you have identified your target reports and outlets, get personal. Sending out generic press releases sends off the message that you really don’t know who you’re talking to. This will likely result in a disinterested (or worse, offended) receiver. Due to the number of pitches they receive on a daily basis, these people can identify a generic press release from the first sentence. So be sure to find out something on your target reader, so you can create an effective hook.
Be Knowledgeable About Industry Trends
The movement of articles is faster online than on print. This is because editors can easily switch out a story with another depending on the attention it is getting and the content it carries. If your press release gets trumped by a big story, you can expect your online presence to get relegated to the back pages, if not removed.
That said, your press release should be packaged in a way to is relevant to what is currently trending. By coming out with fresh content and timing its release properly, you can enjoy placement success. Another strategy would be to hold off on having your content released until the current trending topic has started to subside. This way, when the editor isn’t too overwhelmed, he or she can lend your press release his or her attention. In short, don’t swim in a school. Find a way where you can swim above and get light.
Make Your PR Easy To Digest And Share
When it comes to effective reputation management, the challenge is to not get drowned in the mass of similar news. In addition to being relevant and timely, you should also make your press release easy to share. Give it a viral element. Make it entertaining. Inject something that people will want to engage in. Otherwise, your press release will just stay where it is — in their inbox — and not move at all.
Building a positive and solid reputation for your business is relatively easy when you’re just starting out. However, in these social media driven times, one small mistake could also spell its end. With so many people having access to the Internet, bringing a business up or making it fail can happen in just seconds. This is why you should be wary about what’s posted about you online.
Take the case of taxidermist Marissa Hernandez. When she was just starting out from her New York home, she established name that made her service provide of choice by many locals. At 20 years old, she was already managing a small business and created a solid source of income.
However, years later, she suddenly noticed a drop in sales. She typed her name into Google search and discovered that a report had been filed on a website called Ripoff Report complaining about her work. The said report even went as far as saying that she had been accepting orders that involved illegal animals.
Worried about her business, claiming that none of those allegations were true, she discovered that the Ripoff Report complaint was not filed by a customer, but actually a competitor. While she was eventually able to convince the competitor to have the complaint removed, things don’t really work that way with the site. Hernandez then decided to reach out to the website directly and was rejected. Follow-up calls and emails were ignored and the report remained online. At that point, Hernandez started contemplating whether she should just shut down because she was getting zero orders.
The Ripoff Report Effect
Ripoff Report is a popular website where people can anonymously posted complaints about a certain person or business. While there’s nothing wrong with posting reviews, the fact that users can file anonymously creates a huge problem. You can’t really verify if the claims are true or not.
When the site was first established in 1999, it was a go-to place for reviews. However, because of its questionable process, it has turned into an often-unreliable source of untrue (and sometimes damaging) reports. Worse, once you are mentioned on the site, you have to go through hell and high water to get your information corrected — if at all. At present, Ripoff Report remains high up in Google search results, despite its reputation. Thus, a single mention spells a major problem.
What To Do When You’re Mentioned
However, there is something you can do to recover. Do not close down and give up just yet. You can employ reputation management strategies or get in touch with professional reputation management firms to help push the bad stuff to the back and bring only the good to the front. This involves a technical process.
Once you or your business appears on Ripoff Report, the first thing to do is to not engage. When you leave a comment or post, you only refresh the page and keep it active and relevant. Your goal is to make the page about you extinct by ignoring it. Remember, Google’s algorithm notices which sites are active and which are dormant. Do not give your detractors the time of day by responding to the negative press.
Acknowledge The Problem
When somebody complains about you, it’s most likely because there IS something about your product or service that he or she does not like. Even when you think your business is stellar, you cannot please everybody. The best way to deal with this is to contact the posted directly and try to make amends.
By creating a positive relationship with someone who used to complain about you, you build a fresh start. You might even convert this disgruntled customer into an advocate, so he or she will start writing good things about you. Reaching out to your client will not erase the Ripoff Report complaint, but it will open channels for people to say something positive instead. Also take it as an opportunity to make improvements to your service.
Hire A Pro
There are online reputation management services whose focus is to change what appears on Google’s search results, so all the negative stuff is pushed to the 5th page and so on. When somebody types your name or business’s name on Google search, the general response would be to check out only the first or second page (sometimes third).
You can employ SEO practices to make sure your first few pages go in your favor, but this can be tricky. The smartest bet is to get in touch with the pros. After all, you need a fast fix to your problem or else you will continue to shed clients. By promoting only positive content about you online via reputation management strategies, you minimize the appearance of bad press and make the good stuff rank in their place.
In this age of the Internet, it is no suprise when someone tries to Google your name to find out more about you. Whether it’s a potential employer, a former colleague, a professor, a new friend, a long-lost family member or anybody curious, it matters that what comes up sways in your favor. That said, understanding how to monitor your results and making sure only the good stuff comes up is key. This is what online reputation management is all about.
How do you know if the results are good or bad? How do you make them favorable to you? For this discussion, let’s use the name of Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck to get examples of what bad, good and excellent search results might look like.
The Whys and Hows of Searching On Google
Google’s search function is designed to give the users the best possible results that answer a certain question. The service makes use of artificial intelligence, using keywords, algorithms and the context behind the words that are typed in to come with a list of information that can help the reader. This is done in a way that is easily understood.
For Sallie Krawcheck, typing her name in would likely turn up some professional images, biographical and career information, social media accounts and recent news about her. However, it’s not always the good stuff that comes up. Some CEOs see news about recent controversies they’ve been embroiled in, whether professionally or personally, and this instantly paints an ugly picture.
If somebody is typing your name on Google search, that could mean that person knows little to nothing about you. When the page results in a mix of facts and unsavory news (worse, photos), that could brand you for life. If that person happens to be someone who wants to do business with you, then seeing negative news will have that person heading for the door.
Investing In Your Search Results
When Google’s robots decide that it’s your bad past issues that deserve the front page, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. This is where reputation management comes in.
Now, let’s go back to Sallie Krawcheck as an example. When you type in “Ellevest CEO” on the search engine, only favorable and factual results about Krawcheck will apear. While your search words did not form a complete sentence, Google’s smart algorithm figured out what you were trying to look for, so it gave you exactly what you need.
Now, notice on the upper right part of the first page there’s a box where perhaps the most important information about Krawcheck appears. This is usually the Wikipedia page. By clicking on the arrows on that area, Google takes you to other related pages that may be of help in your search for knowledge.
On the other hand, when you type in “Sallie Krawcheck” on the search bar, something else comes up. Sure, some of it still says she’s CEO of Ellevate, but it also shows off her Twitter account, company profile and professional bio and other features or mentions of her online. The results range from professional to personal.
Lucky for her, the results are good. If they hadn’t, then she would have to employ SEO and reputation management techniques to ensure that the questionable stuff are relegated to the far back and only the good ones are on the first and second pages. When it comes to your reputation online, search results can be a challenge because it reads everything that’s been said about you on the Internet, even the embarrassing ones.
Past is past, but not on the Internet. Fortunately, we have online reputation management strategies we can employ to make sure the bad stays buried in the back. Beyond pushing the good stuff to the fore, this effort requires a technicality that is best handled by the pros. With the experts on your case, you can rest assured that when somebody Googles your name, you don’t cower in embarrassment. Investing in a professional reputation management service is your answer to achieving this level of confidence online.
If you own a business in today’s modern world, you know that it’s no longer a question of whether you have an online presence or not. It’s now a matter of what that online presence is. You need to know how people perceive your brand and whether that perception matches the one you want established. It’s not wise to just let things fall where they may when your online reputation is involved. Businesses can’t just let other people determine what their brand is, they should be the one on top of it controlling the narrative.
This is where online reputation management with WebDesign499 comes in.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management is the practice of taking charge of a brand’s reputation on the web. It involves constant monitoring and making sure that the perception of a business stays on the favorable side by boosting positive content and decreasing the visibility of negative content.
Why is online reputation management important?
Everyone is online these days. Your customers have social media accounts, your competitors have a website, and your prospects are scouring forums for product reviews. There is no escaping the power of the internet and how it’s become the ultimate source of business for a lot of brands.
Studies have shown that 75% of potential customers check reviews first before they make a purchase and four out of five of them choose the competition after reading one bad review. That’s eighty percent of new customers lost due to a possibly mismanaged online reputation.
Take control of what your customers see online and don’t let others – your dissatisfied customers or competitors – do it for you. Or it’s eighty percent of your new customers out the door before they even reach it.
How do you go about managing your online reputation?
There are a lot of details involved in successfully plotting and executing a good online reputation management strategy. Depending on how big your organization is and how much of a presence you already have online, the amount of work and time needed will vary. But the three things that are consistent no matter what when dealing with managing your brand’s online reputation are: 1) establishing where you currently are reputation-wise and your goals, 2) fixing any damage and working on accomplishing your goals, and 3) making sure you keep the goals you’ve reached.
Determining Your Online Reputation
Before executing any steps in managing your brand’s reputation online, it’s important that you figure out what the baseline is so you know how much work still needs to be done. Here are some important questions that will help steer you towards a good start.
What is your audience saying about you?
The most common sources that determine the general opinion about your brand are blogs, forums, social media, and review sites.
Go to these places online and type in the name of your business and check out the results. Are they mostly complaints about your product or service? Do they show your brand in a positive light? Is your website on the first page of search engines or are other sources shown first? The results will give you an idea on what your potential customers see and what their first impression might be when researching about you.
It’s important to note specific quotes and complaints or praises so you have a more concrete idea on how you’re being perceived online. This will also give you a more rounded view of your online reputation goals.
What are your reputation goals?
The Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland said it best when he told Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will lead you there.”
The same truth applies to reputation management. You can’t just be general about your goals. “I want a better online reputation” will not do. You have to be specific in what you want to happen. Is your business being bashed in forums? Plot a game plan on how to combat that. Does the competition keep on posting untrue reviews about you? Find a way to make them stop. Does your brand need more positive reviews? Get strategizing to encourage happy customers to share their experience with you.
It also helps when you divide your goals into immediate ones versus the mid-term and the long-term. That way, you can prioritize better and can audit your accomplishments more clearly.
Is it necessary to conduct a reputation audit?
Yes. Again, you won’t know how far you’ve come if you don’t mark where you started. Write down all measurable info about your current reputation online, compare it to your goals, and set a game plan on bridging the two. Some of the most common things you can measure in your audit are:
Your brand’s average customer rating on review sites The number of positive results on Google when searching for your business The number of likes you have on Facebook The number of complaints your help desk receives in a specific period of time
These are just examples of measurable data you can base your goals and strategy upon. It’s also essential to remember to set a timeline for these items so you know how often to conduct your audits and adjust any items needed.
Conducting Online Reputation Damage Control
Now that you’re clearer on what the problem is and what your goals are, it’s time to do some damage control. Consider the following questions when putting out some fires related to your online reputation.
Can you remove negative reviews?
It depends. If the reviews are posted on your space – your Facebook page, website, or YouTube channel – then you have the last say on what content gets to stay. You can remove anything negative about your brand and push the more positive comments on top of the pages. Some online personalities do this with the goal of fostering only positive thoughts on their spaces, especially in the comments thread in YouTube. You really can’t blame them. YouTube is infamous for having some of the most vicious commenters in the entire World Wide Web. If the threads are not moderated, it can get quite ugly.
However, you need to be careful when deleting negative comments and reviews. There’s a difference between removing a mean note from an online troll to removing a valid complaint from a customer. The former is understandable and usually necessary. The latter can send the wrong message to your audience – it might be construed as censorship and can have a negative effect in how your brand is perceived.
In cases like this, it’s better to let the reviews stay – as long as they’re not disrespectful – and just respond to them. This can be a great opportunity for you to give your audience a first-hand look into how your business handles criticisms and customer complaints.
How do you respond to bad reviews?
Very professionally. Here’s a helpful guideline when replying to negative reviews online.
Focus on the main issue and gear your response towards it. Some reviews can go on and on since one of the reasons why customers write them is to vent, so you need to be the one to hone in on the specific cause of the complaint. Once you’ve dissected it, construct your reply with that issue as the main focus. This will simplify the conversation, temper the emotions involved, and save everybody’s time.
Do some background research. Arm yourself with as much context as possible regarding the customer’s issue. If they’re complaining about a delay in their order, check the appropriate department and confirm the order info. If they’re unsatisfied with how your help desk handled their previous issue, go through the documentation and see what else could have been done. Don’t reply without getting all your facts first. It’s also important that you find out if the issue is an isolated or recurring one so you take the right steps in making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Be polite and earnest. Apologize for the issue and thank the customer for taking the time to let you know about it. Starting with something simple but sincere like this will go a long way to making your customer feel better.
Identify yourself. Make sure the customer knows who you are and how you’re connected with the company. This will let them know that the right people are paying attention and they’re being taken seriously.
Be prompt. Nothing gets upset customers more upset than when they think they’ve been ignored. Always make it a point to reply to complaints within 24 to 48 hours. You want to make sure your side of the story is heard way before other people control the narrative.
Maintaining Your Online Reputation
Performing damage control is not enough when you want to be consistent in managing your online reputation. Once you’ve put out the more critical fires, it’s essential that you have a plan in place that focuses on the upkeep. In online reputation management, being reactive is only good if you’re catching up. After that, the goal is to be proactive. That means monitoring, tracking, and constantly updating.
Can you prevent any more bad reviews?
Realistically, you can’t – unless you tirelessly censor every mention online that puts your business in a negative light. In which case, you should probably stop because it’s not a very productive use of your time.
There will always be someone who won’t be very impressed with you or your product or your service, and they might get very vocal about it. You can’t really stop them from doing so, but you can mitigate the damage those reviews can cause.
What are the ways of lessening the damage from bad reviews?
Regulate the narrative. Since you can’t control exactly what people say about you, then it’s better that they talk about you where you can see them. This means inviting the conversation to happen in your space – your Facebook page, your website, or your Twitter account. If you have no FB page, create one. If you don’t have a customer feedback form, publish one.
If there’s a way to directly address the business when there’s an issue about their product or service, most consumers will use it. Only when that’s unavailable will most of them resort to grumbling on their personal FB account or going on a Twitter rant. You don’t want them to do that. You want the conversation to happen in your space not only so you’re updated but also to make sure you have the capability to moderate it.
Boost the positive. Post regular updates on all your spaces that put your business in a positive light. This does not only mean good reviews, but basically anything that reinforces the quality of your brand. Share helpful articles related to your industry, upload funny images that also make your audience think, update your status with pertinent info on anything your audience will find useful. Do this regularly, so your prospects and current customers find this first in your spaces and not the bad reviews. Monitor and track. Don’t let your reputation get away from you anymore. Set up tracking and monitoring for your brand, business, and keywords to make sure that you’re informed any time anyone says something about you online.
What’s the best way of monitoring and tracking your online reputation?
The goal now is to be on top of the conversation. You’re already aware of the general audience consensus and have done some considerable work into repairing any damage caused by any lack of online reputation management. At this point, you just want to be kept abreast and just using basic Google search is not going to cut it anymore.
You now need the big guns. That means a tool or software that’s designed for online reputation monitoring. How these usually work is you set up the tool with the keywords you want monitored – your business name, your competitor’s, the keyword for your industry, etc. – and the tool will send you an alert when these words are pinged, giving you an opportunity to deal with any issue as soon as it pops.
Do you also need to focus on good reviews?
Definitely. They say you need at least five good reviews to counteract one bad one. Find those good reviews as well. Be approachable to happy customers. You want them to post about their positive experience so your prospects don’t just get influenced by those that wrote bad reviews.
How do we get people to post positive reviews?
You can do it directly or through some other subtler ways.
The direct method would be to offer your products for free in exchange for a review. Of course, it doesn’t usually follow that the experience for the reviewer is going to be positive, but if you’re confident about what you’re offering, chances are they’ll be writing something good about you. You can also have contests or promos where the winner will then write something about the product. This will work not only to help you get more positive reviews for your brand, but as advertising as well.
A more indirect method of encouraging your happy customers to post about you is making social media sharing buttons prominent on your online spaces. Any time you write a new blog post or record a new YouTube video, close it with something like: “Have a story to share about our product? Email us, leave a comment, or post your story in our Facebook page!” Most of the time, your audience want others to know how much they like your product, they just need to be reminded.
The rising popularity of social media and the internet has made online reputation management a necessity for all kinds of businesses. It’s not just a witty phrase marketers throw around anymore. It’s become an essential part of how you take care of your brand. Be vigilant when it comes to protecting your online reputation. Know what people are saying about you and make sure you have the tools that will help you track your brand and manage the conversation. Remember, bad reviews will influence prospects and can cost new customers while proactive reputation management will engender loyal consumers and invite more. Give your brand’s reputation the focus and work it deserves.
WebDesign499 has been providing the #1 premier Online Reputation Management services in Sarasota County, Florida for over five years! If you or your business has been affected by negative online reviews, negative online press or publicity, please reach out to us at (561) 506-0398. Our team at WebDesign499 can create, distribute and push all positive press about you or your business to the top of the Search Engines, while burying all the negative where nobody will ever see those results again!
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