Traditional public relations was the way companies managed their reputations and their public image. Whether the campaign was proactive or trying to fix an issue that was hampering a client, the typical PR response was made up of positive press releases and images of an organization helping endangered animals, orphans, or impoverished communities.
It’s almost impossible to win with shameless link baiting, especially when it relates to a tragedy but that didn’t stop The Huffington Post’s blogger Tricia Fox from trying it anyway. On the day following the death of Amy Winehouse the posted her first blog titled “Amy Winehouse’s Untimely Death Is a Wake up Call for Small Business Owners” and a reputation management crisis was born.
In both PR and reputation management the objective is all about influencing the kind of information users see; one using traditional media while the other uses the web. While the objectives of each practice are similar, the methodologies used are quite different, the biggest being the characteristics of the medium employed by each one.
As the practice of reputation management continues its rise as a brand building and protection tool, the calls for the death of Public Relations are increasing as well. This isn’t necessarily the case as the two strategies can be effectively partnered for successful results.
If you’re running a local business you need to take every opportunity to both manage your business’ reputation while reaching out to your local clientele, especially when that opportunity comes at no cost. Some of the best of these no-cost resources for local businesses are the local listings such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Yelp.
There are three primary reasons for claiming your local listings through these providers:
1) Claiming your local listings provides an easy to use platform to publish your contact information, hours of operation, directions, etc. You can also engage in reputation management practices such as responding to negative reviews and building optimized profiles. Photos, video, coupons, and special offers can also be added to these sites.
2) Neglecting to claim your listings can reduce your local visibility, pose risks to your company’s reputation, and assist your competition. While some local resources will publish a skeleton description of your business, others may not post anything at all. For example, if someone is trying to find your business but you’re not listed, the chances are that they will move on to a business that is listed. An unclaimed local listing can also look sloppy with fuzzy pictures and random information – not what you’re looking for in terms of making a good first impression.
3) Local pages give you another opportunity to occupy rankings on the front pages of the search engines, a critical element of proactive reputation management.
The search engines have made huge advances in terms of helping local businesses to get found by their local customers. Gaining that visibility while managing your reputation at no cost is the kind of deal you just don’t see every day.
The difference between an investment and an expense is typically seen as one of them costs money (an expense) while the other provides a return on capital, at least in theory. One of the more common perceptions regarding the practice of reputation management puts it in the expense category due to the costs involved when a company is trying to protect itself from negative content posted around the web.
The importance of managing your local business’ reputation cannot be understated, but you probably have a long “to-do” list already. With that in mind, here are a few tips on reputation management that won’t take a lot of time but might just save you money, time and headaches down the road.
While organized efforts along the lines of corporate espionage to damage a competitor’s reputation do occur, the vast majority of reputation management headaches are simply the result of the honest complaints from unsatisfied consumers.
Complaints are a fact of life for any business. The cold fact is that while the experience you provide or how your product performs may satisfy 99 people out of 100, there is still that one person out of a hundred that will express negative sentiments and pose the potential of becoming a reputation management problem.