Reputation matters, whether you’re an ordinary individual, an extraordinary individual, a crook, a saint, a political figure, or an entertainer. But reputation matters for more than just individuals. In the world of business, reputation has an ever broader impact.
How reputation works: The information that shapes it and the people who perceive it
A person or company’s reputation is based on information (of some kind or another). And every reputation is perceived by people (of some kind or another). Put information and perception together, and you’re left with a potpourri of differences, reactions, interactions, and misunderstandings in the grand arena of how reputation works.
Crisis communications is the act of managing perception of an event. It isn't management of the even itself. It is communicating in a way to minimize damage. Crisis communications is viewed differently by various stakeholders. Attorneys will have the view of saying little to avoid or minimize future litigation. The CEO may have a personal view, trying to save face or retain some semblance of authority. The Board of Directors may be primarily concerned with stock price. One thing they all have in common is a desire to minimize damage.
ORM, PR, and SEO -- what are all of these acronyms for? Let's break them down, and then delve deeper into how they all fit together.
- ORM: (Online reputation management) is the repair and maintenance of a person, company, or other entity's online image.
- PR: (Public relations) is the how organizations, businesses and people communicate with the public and media.
- SEO: (Search Engine Optimization) is the effort made by online content creators (of words, images, videos, or other media) to help a website rank higher in search engine results.
PR, SEO and ORM are all specialized disciplines of online marketing.
Advertising and public relations share a common goal, which is to improve their clients’ visibility, usually with a goal of increasing sales or other tangible benefit. In a corporate setting, you’ll often find advertisers and PR professionals working alongside each other in the marketing department along with people from related areas.
One of the biggest stories of last year was the chaos wrought by so called “fake news” articles and publications. Today people often call it by another name, propaganda. Using widely distributed media that tells half-truths in order to influence public opinion has been going on since Darius I took the Persian throne in 515 BCE. In America its been around since the days of yellow journalism and perhaps before.
Reputation is important because you or your company want to be seen in the best light. People want to make the best choice, and they base their selection on the person or company that seems to be superior. Whether applying for a job or attracting business opportunities, a good reputation affects your bottom line.
Another way to think about it is that character is how you actually are, and reputation is how others think you are. One is objective, the other subjective. The character of a person is different than his or her reputation, and this holds true for brands as well.
74% of people say reviews increase trust
The rewards of having a good online reputation are greater revenues, better relationships, and more opportunities. Consumers have been shown to care about a company's reputation and purchasers' reviews. For example, a survey carried out in 2016, notes that 74% of potential customers state that when they read positive reviews, they have more trust in a local business.1
Curating a positive reputation is very different than simply leaving it up to the random opinions of others. Online reputation management works to actively affect how a person or company is perceived by others.
There exists a type of PR agency that specializes in destruction rather than enhancement of reputation. Some of these agencies work for governments or politcal parties, others are private contractors, all have a similar agenda: Lay false trails, generate fake news, and use social media to weaken or decimate rivals by manipulating public opinion for nefarious purpose. It isn't just fringe groups, but the appartus of large governmental institutions like the National Security Administration (NSA). The NSA has apparently used negative online reputation management to discredit some peoples search results.
Honest review sites are an important and valuable part of the information ecosystem. Yet often search engines amplify what should be a whisper to a scream. Who are the players in the bad news ecosystem? Reputation X studied 1000 people and companies with online reputation problems and here's what we learned.