Reputation Risk Best Practices

Reputation Risk Best Practices

This article first appeared on Visibility Magazine on August 1st, 2016.

Introduction

How many reviews and social media sites are there today? At this point, anyone can say anything on the Internet with notable degrees of anonymity. For this reason, executives at major companies rank potential backlash from reputation attacks as the number one strategic risk. Many businesses acknowledge this liability, but are still trying to discover and implement reputation risk management best practices. Here are a few ideas for the reputation-conscious.

Think Ahead

Bad publicity will eventually affect most big businesses in one way or another. No company is immune to damage from declining public opinion, and top executives are especially susceptible to reputation attacks. Sadly, most individuals and businesses begin applying reputation risk management only once they already have a pressing reputation issue. In many cases, minor attacks can be minimized or completely avoided if companies and individuals make an early effort to establish and consistently build an online presence before attacks take place. Building a strong portfolio of search results is much easier to do proactively than it is once an attack has already started. A forward-looking strategy is often the most efficient way to keep minor allegations and attacks off of the first page of Google.

Monitor your Online Reputation

Today, there is no excuse for not knowing what search results are appearing when people look for your company and key, public-facing executives. There are a plethora of options when it comes to the top online reputation monitoring tools, but what is important is to be notified immediately when negative information is posted about you, your company, or public figures at your organization. Monitoring your search results affords you the opportunity to respond and react to reputation attacks and negative information before they start to spread virally and cause financial difficulties.

Have a Crisis Management Strategy

Once you have implemented a monitoring solution and a strategy to create positive online assets around your brand name and key people, you should determine ahead of time how you will handle a reputation crisis. Who will be responsible for creating content to respond? How will you handle questions on social media? Do you have a PR team? Will you hire consultants? When you are in the limelight for unfavorable reasons, composure and response time count. A plan of attack on how your team will respond to attacks does not take very long to develop, but it’s a significant reputation risk management best practice.

Conclusion

Executives agree that reputation risk is among the top strategic risks for companies today. Businesses and executives can mitigate their exposure to this risk by adhering to a few reputation risk management best practices. A proactive approach can ensure that resources are not squandered on minor issues when they arise. A monitoring solution gives your company the best chance of handling reputation attacks before they start to spread virally on the Internet. By implementing a few reputation risk management best practices, your organization can maintain a positive, established online presence and be better prepared for online reputation attacks.

Automated Reputation Auditing

Automated Reputation Auditing

This article first appeared on Visibility Magazine on Sept 1st, 2015.

When is the last time you took an inventory of what comes up in search results when you search for yourself and your company? Today everything is online and information travels more ubiquitously than ever before. While this represents what Rupert Murdoch calls “the golden age of media” and an increasingly level playing field to spread ideas, it also creates a new environment of reputational risks for those who are not proactively monitoring their names on the Internet. Luckily, the process of monitoring search results and social media for mentions of yourself, your company, and your brand can be completely automated using free basic services or professional monitoring solutions. There are two major components of any automated reputation auditing solution: Social Media Monitoring and Search Engine Alerts.

Search Engine Alerts

Search engines function by collecting data in an index and presenting the most relevant information based on a user’s search. In a marvel of modern computing, Google crawls, analyzes, and indexes 30 trillion web pages 100 billion times per month. When information enters search engine results, it has entered Google’s index first. Ergo, the most effective strategy is to set up an automated alert system to monitor the index. Google offers free software to do this called Google Alerts.

Social Media Monitoring

Because not all social media is accessible directly by Google crawlers, it is also prudent to configure alerts on social media platforms to ensure that you can monitor and participate in conversations about yourself and your company online. Hootsuite and Talkwalker offer free trials or base level accounts which enable you to easily configure monitoring solutions.

Enterprise Solutions

Many companies choose to employ enterprise reputation monitoring to ensure they always maintain an up to date, comprehensive overview of their image online. The beauty of these software solutions is that they are configured by teams who specialize in this type of marketing, are built to synthesize data from multiple sources, and scale seamlessly with your organization.

What to Monitor

A good reputation audit will overview relevant terms without including superfluous information. There are four major categories you should focus on when configuring monitoring software.

Company Name

Monitor your brand name. This is an obvious first choice if you are going to perform a reputation audit. It is also a good idea to create search monitoring for [company name] + “reviews” to see when search results are registered on different review sites.

Personal Name

The next step is to understand what is being said about you personally on the internet and social media. Most social media sites will indicate when you have been tagged or mentioned in a post, but you may also choose to include monitoring for middle names or nicknames. If you have a common name, you can eliminate some false positive alerts by monitoring [your name] + location. Google now acts as a first impression and is increasingly turned to by friends, dates, and hiring managers to learn more information about people.

Top Executives

Who are the top five public figures at your company and what is being said about them online? Deloitte currently ranks reputation risk for executives as the leading strategic risk for companies. A great way to mitigate reputational risk is to develop a proactive reputation auditing plan.

Trademarked Terms

Companies invest heavily in their intellectual property, and slogans like “Just Do It” and “Have it Your Way” become synonymous with attitude, service, and quality of their respective brands. If your company uses slogans or trademarked terms for proprietary services, add these to your reputation audit for a complete picture of your online image.

There’s an incredible Ted talk by Alexis Ohanian where he uses his experience with Reddit to prove that brands are shared. Marketing is no longer an easy monolog to potential buyers. If they haven’t already, people will eventually comment online about you, your company, and top executives. Reputation risk is a primary strategic risk for companies today. However, with a little preparation, it is easier than ever to develop an ongoing strategy to audit your reputation and ensure that you receive accurate information in real time when you or your company is the subject of an online discussion.

How to Monitor Your Online Reputation

This article first appeared on Visibility Magazine on Feb 1st, 2016.

Do you know what the Internet says about you? Information travels fast online and Google is constantly observing over 30 trillion web pages in an attempt to keep search results up to date. I’ve written before about how important a reputation audit is to understanding what is being said about you and your company. Because of the democratic and instantaneous nature of online publishing, companies and people alike need a strategy to mitigate reputation risk. So what is the best way to monitor your online reputation?

Search for Yourself

The easiest way to monitor your online reputation is to search for yourself and read through the first few pages of results. It’s not a bad idea to keep an up to date spreadsheet with a list of links that are ranking for your name. Additionally, awesome companies like BrandYourself offer online tools to help organize and catalog this information. The potential downfall of this strategy is its repetitive nature. The best way to monitor your online reputation would require some automation.

Automation

I won’t list them all here because Elegant Themes has a great list of resources to automate internet monitoring for mentions of you and your company’s name. Many of them are free for the base package. Among my favorite tools are IFTT, Hootsuite, and Google Alerts. There are a lot of options when it comes to software to monitor your online reputation. The main issue with these software solutions is that they may pick up a lot of innocuous or irrelevant data. What if you could monitor your online reputation and filter notifications by content.

Defamation Monitoring

What if there were a way to filter all the data that mentions you and your company? The ideal scenario would be a software solution that could be set to crawl specific sites where negative content is likely to appear and automatically send alerts. Several companies offer online monitoring software, but there are very few enterprise level solutions available. Defamation Monitor software can be utilized to notify PR teams whenever a brand is negatively mentioned; it also has applications in the consumer market for professionals who need an automated way to stay abreast of potentially harmful information online.