What Is Reputation Management? Definition, Process and Ethics

1. Introduction

With the whole world checking companies and people out online before interacting with them, reputation management has become increasingly important. In fact, 85% of people trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Most people will reconsider buying a product, dating someone, or interacting with a company if their online profile is negative.

“Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is.”

– Chris Anderson, Former Editor of Wired Magazine and person who was kind enough to give me an interview when I was a student

This guide explores the concept of reputation management, its various types, the importance of managing public perception, who controls your reputation, how to manage your online reputation effectively, and addresses common questions related to reputation management.

2. What is Reputation Management?

Definition of Reputation Management

Reputation Management (ˌrep.jʊˈteɪ.ʃən ˈmæn.ɪdʒ.mənt): n.

Reputation management is the ongoing process of influencing and shaping the public perception of an individual, company, or brand.

Reputation management involves monitoring how people perceive you or your organization and then improving it. The goal is to maintain a positive reputation and address any problems that arise.

Reputation management involves various methods to enhance public opinion, control online information, and effectively handle negative incidents or publicity that could influence the perception of an organization.

3. Types of Reputation Management

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”

– Socrates, Classical Greek Philosopher.

Online reputation management strategy charts a path to improve the online narrative. Within ORM strategies, several types of reputation management that can be employed. Some common ones include:

  • Online Reputation Management: This reputation management focuses on controlling an individual or corporate reputation. It involves monitoring and responding to online reviews, comments, and mentions and creating positive content to enhance reputation.
  • Crisis Management: Crisis management lessens the harm caused by a crisis or damaging event on someone’s or a group’s reputation. It involves implementing a well-defined plan to address the crisis, communicate effectively with stakeholders, and minimize reputational damage.
  • Brand Management: Brand reputation management is about building and maintaining a good reputation for a brand or product. Brand management involves building and maintaining a good reputation for a brand or product. This is done by creating a strong brand image, effectively communicating brand values, and consistently delivering on brand promises. These actions help enhance and grow brand reputation.
  • Personal Reputation Management: Personal reputation management is dedicated to managing and improving the reputation of an individual, such as a public figure, executive, or celebrity. It involves actively monitoring and influencing public perception through a number of channels such as social media, interviews, public appearances, and of course, online presence.
  • Reputation Repair: Reputation repair is a type of reputation management that focuses on repairing and rebuilding a person or organization’s reputation that has been damaged by negative events or publicity. It involves addressing the root causes of the damage, implementing corrective measures, and actively working to regain trust and credibility.
  • Review Management: Review management refers to the proactive management of online reviews and star ratings. It includes strategies to improve star ratings, address negative reviews, encourage positive reviews, and effectively respond to customer feedback.
  • Wikipedia Reputation: Wikipedia management involves actively monitoring and managing the narrative of Wikipedia articles related to an individual, company, or brand by carefully editing pages. It focuses on ensuring accuracy, addressing any inaccuracies or biased information, and maintaining a positive representation.

4. The Importance of Reputation Management

Maintaining a positive reputation is important for individuals, companies, and brands for many reasons:

  • Trust and Credibility: A positive reputation instills trust and confidence in the minds of customers, stakeholders, and the general public. It enhances credibility and encourages positive perceptions, leading to increased customer loyalty and support.
  • Competitive Advantage: A strong reputation differentiates an individual or organization from competitors. It can be a key factor in attracting customers, investors, and top talent.
  • Business Success: A positive reputation has a direct impact on business success. It influences customer purchase decisions, drives customer loyalty and advocacy, and attracts new opportunities and partnerships.
  • Crisis Resilience: A well-managed reputation provides a foundation of goodwill that can help mitigate the impact of a negative event or a crisis. A positive reputation built over time can serve as a buffer during inevitably challenging times.
  • Online Influence: We see the world through screens. The majority of people research and make decisions based on online information and reviews. Managing online reputation ensures accurate, positive, and influential content is visible to potential customers and stakeholders.

5. Who Controls Your Reputation?

While you cannot directly control what others think about you, you can influence their perception through strategic reputation management efforts. The control over your reputation lies in managing what people see and how they perceive you. This involves:

  • Online Presence: Manage your online presence by monitoring and interacting with websites, social media, and other online platforms.
  • Content Creation: Creating and promoting positive content that highlights your achievements, expertise, and values. This includes blog posts, articles, videos, social media updates, and other content that supports these facts.
  • Engagement: Engage with your online audience, customers, and stakeholders by replying to comments and reviews and participating in industry discussions.
  • Crisis Preparedness: Developing a comprehensive crisis management plan to effectively handle negative events or crises that may impact your reputation. This involves swift and transparent communication, taking responsibility when necessary, and implementing corrective measures.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Regularly monitoring your online presence, including social media mentions, reviews, news articles, and other relevant sources of information. This lets you identify potential reputation risks or negative content and respond promptly.

You can’t control what others say or think, but you can shape public perception and manage your reputation effectively.

6. How to Manage Your Online Reputation

“Authenticity, honesty, and personal voice underlie much of what’s successful on the Web.”

– Rick Levine, Author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Managing your online reputation requires a proactive approach and a well-defined strategy. Here are key steps to effectively manage your online reputation:

  1. Monitoring and Responding to Online Reviews and Ratings:Set up alerts and notifications to track mentions of your name, brand, or organization across various online platforms.

    Regularly monitor online review sites, social media platforms, and industry-specific forums for customer reviews and feedback.

    Respond promptly and professionally to both positive and negative reviews or comments. Address concerns, provide solutions, and show genuine care for customer satisfaction.

    Implement a review management system that encourages satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and addresses any negative feedback privately and constructively.

  2. Managing Online Content

    Regularly update and optimize your website to ensure it accurately reflects your brand, expertise, and offerings. Google tends to reward fresh content.Create and share valuable and interesting content on various online platforms like blogs, articles, videos, and social media.

    Monitor search engine results for your name, brand, or organization, and proactively address any negative or misleading content. This could mean contacting website owners or using SEO to lower negative content in search results.

    Use your website, blog, and social media to show positive testimonials, case studies, awards, and achievements that improve your reputation.

  3. Engaging with the Public

    Actively participate in online conversations and discussions related to your industry or area of expertise. This includes engaging with customers, industry influencers, and other stakeholders through social media platforms, forums, and industry-specific communities.Respond to inquiries, comments, and questions promptly and professionally. Demonstrate your expertise, provide valuable insights, and show genuine interest in engaging with your audience.

    Become a respected expert by sharing valuable content, joining webinars or podcasts, and speaking at industry events.
    Build relationships with media outlets, journalists, and influencers to ensure accurate and positive coverage of your brand or organization.

  4. Utilizing Crisis ManagementDevelop a comprehensive crisis management plan that outlines roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols in the event of a crisis.

    Monitor potential reputation risks and establish early warning systems to identify and address issues promptly.
    Respond fast and honestly during a crisis, providing accurate information, demonstrating empathy, and clarifying the steps being taken to resolve it.

    Keep stakeholders informed and updated through various communication channels, such as press releases, social media updates, and dedicated crisis communication platforms.
    Learn from the crisis and implement corrective measures to prevent similar situations in the future. Conduct post-crisis evaluations and incorporate lessons learned into your ongoing reputation management strategy.

7. Reputation Management Checklist

To help you manage your reputation effectively, here is a checklist of key actions:

1. Assess Your Current Reputation:

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of your online presence, including search engine results, social media mentions, and review sites.
  • Identify any existing reputation issues, negative content, or potential reputation risks.

2. Develop a Reputation Management Strategy:

  • Define your desired reputation goals and objectives.
  • Identify your target audience and key stakeholders.
  • Determine the channels and platforms where you need to establish a positive presence.
  • Create a comprehensive plan that outlines specific actions, timelines, and responsibilities.

3. Monitor Your Online Reputation:

  • Set up monitoring tools and alerts to track mentions of your name, brand, or organization across online platforms.
  • Regularly monitor review sites, social media platforms, and relevant industry forums for customer feedback and discussions.
  • Stay informed about industry trends, news, and events that may impact your reputation.

4. Engage with Your Audience:

  • Actively participate in online conversations and discussions related to your industry or area of expertise.
  • Respond promptly and professionally to customer reviews, comments, and inquiries.
  • Share valuable content, insights, and expertise through owned media channels and industry platforms.
  • Build relationships with influencers, journalists, and media outlets to enhance your visibility and positive coverage.

5. Manage Online Content:

  • Regularly update and optimize your website to accurately reflect your brand and offerings.
  • Develop a content strategy that includes creating and promoting valuable and engaging content across different online channels.
  • Monitor search engine results and proactively address any negative or misleading content through SEO techniques or outreach to website owners.

6. Implement Crisis Management Protocols:

  • Develop a crisis management plan that outlines roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols.
  • Monitor potential reputation risks and establish early warning systems to detect and address issues promptly.
  • Respond swiftly and transparently during a crisis, providing accurate information and showing empathy.
  • Learn from crises and implement corrective measures to prevent similar situations in the future.

7. Continuously Evaluate and Adapt:

  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your reputation management efforts.
  • Analyze metrics such as sentiment analysis, online engagement, and customer feedback to measure the impact of your strategies.
  • Adapt your reputation management strategies as needed based on insights and feedback.

8. Online Reputation Management FAQs

Q1. How can I monitor my reputation online? You can monitor your reputation online by setting up Google Alerts to track mentions of your name, brand, or organization. Use social media and review monitoring tools to stay updated on what people are saying about you or your business.

Q2. What if I find negative information about my reputation online? Stay calm and professional if you find bad things about your reputation online. Talk about the problems, give correct information, and try to fix them if you can.

Talk privately to the person or website to solve any problems if you can. Online conversations are, essentially, forever.

Q3. How long does it take to improve an online reputation? Improving an online reputation takes time and consistent effort. The timeline can change based on how bad the reputation problems are, how well the strategies work, and the online situation. It’s important to remain patient and persistent in your reputation management efforts.

Q4. Should I hire a reputation management company? Hiring a reputation management company is helpful if you don’t have enough time, knowledge, or resources to manage your reputation well. A reputable reputation management company can provide guidance, implement strategies, and monitor your reputation on your behalf. Conduct thorough research and choose a company with a proven track record and positive reviews.

9. Summary

Reputation management plays a vital role in shaping public perception, building trust, and ensuring the success of individuals, companies, and brands in the digital age.

Online reputation management companies influence how others perceive you or your organization by proactively managing your online presence, engaging with your audience, monitoring and responding to reviews, and effectively addressing negative events or publicity. Remember that reputation management is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort, adaptation, and a focus on maintaining a positive image in the eyes of your stakeholders.

Citations and Further Reading

  1. BrightLocal. Local Consumer Review Survey. Retrieved from https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey/
  2. Bazaarvoice. Why Ratings and Reviews Are Important for Your Business. Retrieved from https://www.bazaarvoice.com/wp-content/themes/bazaarvoice/_sei-2019/static/downloads/BV19-SEI-Main-NA-Final.pdf
  3. Weber Shandwick. The Social CEO: Executives Tell All. Retrieved from https://webershandwick.com/uploads/news/files/Social-CEO-Study.pdf
  4. Moz. Data Reveals 67% of Consumers are Influenced by Online Reviews. Retrieved from https://moz.com/blog/new-data-reveals-67-of-consumers-are-influenced-by-online-reviews
  5. CareerBuilder. 70% of employers are snooping on candidates’ social media profiles. Retrieved from https://www.careerbuilder.com/advice/blog/social-media-survey-2017
  6. Edelman. Edelman Trust Barometer. Retrieved from https://www.edelman.com/trust/trust-barometer
  7. Weber Shandwick. The CEO Reputation Premium. Retrieved from https://webershandwick.com/uploads/news/files/ceo-reputation-premium-executive-summary.pdf
  8. Deloitte. Global survey on reputation risk. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Governance-Risk-Compliance/gx_grc_Reputation@Risk%20survey%20report_FINAL.pdf
  9. ReviewTrackers. (2022). Online Reviews Statistics and Trends. Retrieved from https://www.reviewtrackers.com/reports/online-reviews-survey/
  10. Uberall. STUDY: For Brick-And-Mortar Businesses, a Small Increase in Online Star Ratings Boosts Conversion by 25%. Retrieved from https://uberall.com/en-us/company/press-releases/study-brick-and-mortar-businesses-small-increase-in-online-ratings-boosts-conversion-by-25-percent
  11. Dijkmans, C., Kerkhof, P., & Beukeboom, C. J. (2015). A Stage to Engage: Social Media Use and Corporate Reputation. Tourism Management, 47, 58-67. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0261517714001757
  12. Doorley, J., & Garcia, H. F. (2015). Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication. Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Reputation-Management-Successful-Relations-Communication-dp-0815376952/dp/0815376952/ref=dp_ob_title_bk
  13. Wartick, S. L. Measuring Corporate Reputation: Definition and Data. Business & Society, 41(4), 371-392. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0007650302238774
  14. Tripadvisor. (2022). The Influence of Traveler Reviews on Booking Behavior. Retrieved from https://ir.tripadvisor.com/news-releases/news-release-details/online-reviews-remain-trusted-source-information-when-booking

About the author

Kent Campbell is the chief strategist for Reputation X, an award-winning reputation management agency based in California. Kent has over 15 years of experience with SEO reputation management, Wikipedia editing, review management, and strategy. Kent has helped celebrities, leaders, executives, and marketing professionals improve their online appearance. Kent writes about reputation, SEO, Wikipedia, and PR-related topics and is an expert witness for reputation-related legal matters. You can find Kent’s biography here.

Tags: Reputation Management.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Get in touch with our team and we’ll take the first steps toward making you look better online.

Talk with Us