While you’re busy creating a carefully crafted image of your client or company, the majority of your stakeholders will form an opinion based on information available online, often drawing quick conclusions solely based on the top results of a Google search. This means that no matter how many news stories you earn or blog posts you write, they will be rendered ineffective unless they appear prominently as part of your client’s online presence. By including digital reputation management efforts in your PR plan, you’ll be able to better build, monitor, defend, and restore your client’s reputation online.
To get started, here are five things you need to know:
- Take ownership of your own content
The first rule of digital reputation management is to take ownership of your online reputation. Your owned channels and relevant content should be the first thing that appears in a Google search; if they are not, you have some work to do. Start by making sure you have claimed all relevant social media and online profiles available, and use them to share content you want your key stakeholders to see.
- Prepare for a PR crisis
If you plan ahead, you can prevent – or at least mitigate – the impact of a PR crisis on your digital reputation. Review your online content to evaluate how it references or addresses topics that might become the source of a PR nightmare. Then play the role of a reporter to unearth unflattering search results that appear when using various combinations of keywords and the name of your client. Don’t forget to search by using nicknames, alternate spellings, and different versions of names and titles. Finally, contextualize your results and formulate a plan for how to address the possibility of a looming crisis.
- Monitor and manage Wikipedia pages
Wikipedia is often a prominent search result and considered by many to be a useful source of information about your company or client, so make sure that the information is accurate and not unfavorable. While Wikipedia strongly discourages editing articles related to you, it is perfectly acceptable to closely monitor page changes so that you can submit content for inclusion within articles. You can also notify editors of inaccuracies or vandalism. To catch any potentially malicious or erroneous edits, track your Wikipedia pages using the free Five Blocks WikiAlerts tool.
- Pave the way to your content
Most PR practitioners focus on pushing content through various channels with the hope that stakeholders will come across the right content in the right place, at the right time. Your target audience, however, is busy pulling information by using specific keywords that may or may not lead them to your client. To better control the pathway to content you want them to see, use a tool such as the Google Search Console to identify keywords that do (or do not) direct traffic to your target website.
- Leverage search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing tactics
Ranking your desired content prominently in search is important if you want it seen by anyone looking for information online. For content to appear on top, focus on making it both relevant and engaging. If the search is for an individual, ensure the content answers the questions searchers are most likely to have about that person. You might also include video or other types of content the searcher may not have been expecting. Content that is not good enough will lead readers to “bounce” by quickly clicking the browser back button. Content that attracts bounces won’t rank as high as pages with engaging and interesting content.
At Five Blocks, we frequently partner with PR professionals to help their clients achieve a fair digital representation of themselves and their work with the help of data, proprietary technology, and over a decade of expertise.
If you’re looking to implement a digital reputation management program, or need help managing your digital reputation, contact us for a free assessment of your current situation.
One of the great things about Online Reputation Management is that it includes more than just creating some blogs or generating links. It’s a lot about the perception of searchers. How do they view your company? What frame of mind are they in? What can you do to change impressions? The variety of tactics we utilize in repairing online reputations is constantly evolving. Eighteen months ago we hardly touched Twitter; now it’s a staple. Google’s personalized profiles are also a new development – allowing any user to grab the profile page for their name (which shows up instantly just below the Google top ten with a picture).
In this fast-paced environment, we make sure to see and evaluate what happens a week or more after a crisis.
The Domino’s Test
On April 21, 2009 our company decided to run Google Ads in order to gauge the longer-term effects of negative publicity from Domino’s Pizza’s now infamous “disgusting video.” Our test took place more than a week after the release of the famous employees YouTube video.
Aside from over 25,000 impressions, coming primarily from ads appearing on YouTube, we measured over 3,000 searches for the broad term ‘disgusting dominos.’
Domino’s themselves evidently realized that this would be the ‘best’ keyword to capture the crisis and decided to make their YouTube response title: “Disgusting Dominos People – Domino’s Responds”. This was probably at the urging of their SEO expert. While the best way to rank a YouTube video for a keyword is to start the title of the video with your keyword, I would argue that the negative aspect of having the CEO’s picture under the title “Disgusting Dominos” is a reason to veer away from this tactic. Instead, I would have recommendeded “Dominos CEO responds to Disgusting Dominos People Video.” The actual video file should probably have been called “Disgusting Dominos” as we have seen empirically the effects of the file name itself outweighing the video title. Using the keyword as the title of the video file is very helpful in making sure the video shows up in YouTube for your keyword.
Disgusting Domino’s – the Top Keyword for the Domino’s Crisis in Reputation Management
We noted that throughout our test, Domino’s Pizza themselves did not seem to be running any Google Ads – possibly a missed opportunity to reassure searchers that Domino’s is aware of the issue and is proactively dealing with it.
Note: Domino’s is a trademark of Domino’s Pizza. This site is not related to Domino’s in any way.