Your reputation is important and it's not something that should be handed off for someone else to manage. That is of course, unless it's someone that is verified, has a lot of experience and proven themselves worthy of your business.
The truth is, most businesses, brands and TV personalities all have PR and ORM experts working for them 24/7. This is especially true with social media being able to take even the smallest story out of context and turning it into a worldwide trending topic.
In short, without the right person actively monitoring your brand and media mentions, who knows what is being said about you and where. At the same time, it's not just about knowing what is being said and where, but also how to respond to each incident correctly.
Below we have compiled a list of the seven most important questions you need to ask when hiring a PR or ORM agency to manage and protect your brand and reputation online.
What to Ask When Hiring a PR or ORM Agency
1 - What services are included in your PR and ORM campaigns?
This is probably the most important question you can ask a PR and ORM agency, simply because so much can fall under "PR" and "ORM". If an agency is charging you a set amount or has you on a retainer, it's important to know what you are paying for before signing a contract.
A list of potential tasks that you should ask about are; brand monitoring, suppression of negative search listings, negative customer reviews, defamation, legal representation, positive PR and content creation.
2 - When you come across a potential issue, what steps are then taken?
Typical ORM agencies will provide services that range from as simple as just online monitoring to complete management and brand restoration. The time and money investment for each of these heavily varies.
If you aren't sure what action is being taken once an issue does arrive, you simply won't know how to manage your reputation online or what to expect once it is attacked.
3 - Will you actively monitor my brand online across all platforms?
This question is two-fold. The first question is if your brand is going to be monitored online. The second is where and how. This is also important to know because tools like Google Alerts are great for monitoring brand mentions, but it only works when new content appears within Google -- what about blogs, search results, forums, videos and more? Make sure your ORM agency is going to monitor brand mentions across ALL platforms and not just one or a few.
4 - Can you remove existing harmful content ranking in Google?
The business behind many ORM agencies is for them to remove or push down negative rankings in the search results. Each case has its own complexities and this can heavily fluctuate in pricing as well.
To remove rankings from the search results, this usually takes legal action and a direct contact to Google. To suppress negative rankings in Google, an agency might need to create new content and rank it above the negative content -- thus pushing it down.
The difference between the two is not only the cost, but that it can also affect your reputation in the future should those negative rankings creep up in the results again.
5 - What type of information do you need to know about myself or the business?
Reputation management comes in all different shapes and sizes. Are you trying to protect your personal name, the brand name, reviews for products within the company... or a little bit of everything?
Before meeting with a ORM agency, you should have a good idea what type of services you are looking for, then how you would like each of them taken care of. Larger companies will actively include their employees within their monitoring, as anything they say or do online can quickly come back and represent the company as well.
No matter the size or structure of your business and brand, putting everything out there for your ORM agency to consider beforehand is the best option.
6 - How long will it take to clean up an existing media disaster we currently have in place?
In most cases, no one goes to an ORM agency before a problem happens. This means there are already underlining issues that need to be taken care of.
Just like not all ORM cases are the same, nor are the way they are taken care of. Suppression of search engine listings can take months, while the removal of online companies and reviews can be cleared up within days.
Since time is something that is always going to be billed, make sure you know what needs to be addressed, how long it will take and what it will cost.
7 - What can I do to help along with the ORM process?
Everything has a price, and when it comes to your reputation, it's not something you want to skimp on -- however, there are some things you can do to start better protecting your brand (such as building out active social media profiles).
By asking your ORM agency what exactly they are going to be working on and letting them know that you do have the skills to perform some actions on your end, you could end up saving some money and speeding up the overall process.
Before Hiring Your Next ORM or PR Agency
Billions of dollars are spent every year on reputation management, PR and disaster recovery. The majority of this money is spent in times of crisis when brands are trying to repair the damage that is being done.
To minimize your costs and exposure, not only should you have a reputation management plan in place before disaster strikes, you should always have your own questions and answers in relation to the ones we covered above.