The First Rule of Online Reputation Management

The First Rule of Online Reputation Management: Be proactive

You hear a name – for a person, company, or organization – and want to know more. What’s the first thing you do? For most people, the first stop is Google. The results that turn up will fundamentally frame how the searcher views their object of interest.

In the wild west of Google searches, it is easy to have your message hijacked by a disgruntled employee, customer, neighbor, or anyone with angry thumbs. If you don’t proactively tell your story, others will surely tell it for you.

How do you do this?

Governments, businesses, nonprofits, and NGOs need fully-integrated communications programs that are being systematically implemented. When you have earned media, owned channels, and paid media at your disposal, it prevents vandals, pranksters, or disgruntled individuals from defining your narrative. It’s critical to set the tone and speak to your brand values through a consistent stream of content that you put in place, define and control.

Being proactive means creating fresh, relevant, strategic content. A strategic communications firm or crisis PR firm can provide and guide that content. Your audience is listening. Give them a clearly defined narrative. Create positive, entertaining, informative content. Tell your own story. Own the first page of any search for your name.

SEO firms can sometimes do more harm than good. If content is low quality or inauthentic, people know it—and hate it.

And when a crisis strikes, there’s no button to fix Google. Many SEO firms are ill equipped to offer an effective communication strategy.

A crisis PR firm specializes in prevention through preparation. Being proactive starts by creating a brand architecture. What are your values? What are your stats? What’s your boilerplate bio? This architecture becomes the blueprint of your voice, your curated online reputation.

Now is an important time to proactively control your voice. Political unrest, protests, Covid-etiquite evolution, social justice issues, climate change, regime change, and lack of change all demand preparation—proactive content creation. Be honest, cynical and human. Say what you believe. But then view it through the eyes of the world. Ultimately, be human and do what feels right.

Your online reputation is your reputation. Especially among the 70% who get their news online. People are going to believe what they see about you online. Be proactive—and you’ll always be several steps ahead of their next Google Search.

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