Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from the internet world, chances are you have witnessed a brand go through a online reputation crisis. From FedEx employees mishandling the mail to wrongly managed airline disasters, it’s very likely you have witnessed how quickly a video, photo or tweet can catapult into virality, in all the wrong ways, and bring a brand’s good down on its knees.
Reputation is everything. We are seen, and judged, in the blink of an eye by the content we post, publish and Tweet. Whether you are of celebrity status, the CEO of a company, a career professional developing your personal brand or searching for a new job.
According to Execunet, 78% of executive recruiters routinely use search engines to learn more about candidates, and 35% have eliminated candidates based on the information they found.
So we understand our online reputation matters and we need to show our best side, always, but are there steps we can take to avoid a crisis before it happens?
Yes, there are.
1. Work on prevention
The first thing you should ask yourself right now is “where am I?” and then follow with a close second question “where do I want to be?’ Meditate on those answers. Does your online persona represent just that?
You want to make sure there’s nothing anywhere that could damage your image and Google is a solid place to start. Here are the instructions on how to remove unwanted content and manage your online reputation.
Evaluate your social media presence
Now is the time to go over your social media networks.
- All those embarrassing or inappropriate photos need to go on private or better yet delete mode!
- Evaluate your tone on the statuses you publish and the content you share, are they mirroring the image you want the world to have of you.
- Check what others are saying about you. You can use any tool you wish, I like Me in the web because it’s super easy.
2. Be prepared
Benjamin Franklin once said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”And he couldn’t be more right!
For big brands, the preparation time would mean they have to conduct a Vulnerability Assessment, Evaluate Needs and create a Crisis Plan. Now, for our personal brand we don’t have to go that technical but we must not forget the main rule of PR crisis management: preparation.
In order to be ready to manage negativity that could affect your small business or your personal brand, you need to educate yourself. Follow blogs, read user cases, stay informed of examples and learn of the how-to’s.
Here are a few of my favorite resources to learn about general PR, online reputation and social media crises.
Free Crisis Case Studies by Agnes+Day
3. Lose the ego
When it comes to saving your reputation, be transparent and be human but don’t be arrogant.
Curagami co-founder Marty Smith, wrote this post for our community blog a while back. In it, Marty shares the answer to one of his most frequently asked questions “What if someone say a horrible thing on Yelp or some other platform? Marty has very solid tips for keeping yourself calm and collected even when receiving negative feedback:
- Be appreciative of the feedback even if you disagree with the content.
- Link to where you have a more detailed “discussion” set up on one of your owned properties such as your site or blog. Remember, you don’t “own” Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. THEY do.
- Set up a “discussion” area on your blog or website, copy the negative review (or the parts that meet your posted guidelines) and post your appreciation for the information.Appreciation for feedback is NOT agreement.
- Don’t be defensive. If you have previously published material such as policies and procedures that contradict the reviewer, RESIST using it. Respond directly to THIS incident on a human level.
- Remember the 1:10:89 rule. 1% of visitors contribute, 10% will vote on the contribution of the 1% and 89% ride for free. This is why appreciation for the 1% is so important.
- 10x Rule – The 10x rule says that for every person willing to raise their hand there are at least 10 others who feel the same. This is why a full and complete public airing of a negative review on a website you own is so important.
4. Be yourself, be honest
Remember what I said on the first step about evaluation who you are and where you want to go? Well, there’s no better way to do that than being yourself and honest.
Back in April, I attended the EBE Barcelona conference where Alberto Guerrero was speaking. Alberto is a seasoned online marketer and the Digital Strategist of FC Barcelona player Gerard Piqué. In his presentation he shared a video with Shaquille O’neal talking about image and personal branding. Shaq said “Image is reality, what you see is what you get”. There is simply no point in wasting your time and taking a stab on your reputation by trying to be someone else.
Interested in more tips on managing your online reputation?
Join us Tuesday, July 22, 2pm ET for #BizHeroes with Alberto Guerrero, Head of Communications and PR for Gerard Piqué HQ and curator of his very own newspaper. He’ll join us to discuss online reputation, the importance of honesty and tell us a bit about his experience managing a celebrity’s online persona.
What tips do you have for managing and monitoring your brand’s reputation? How do you handle crisis — or even better, how do you avoid them? Share you tips and comments below, and join us Tuesday to discuss with us!