Maintaining a solid reputation for yourself and your business is more than just keeping an eye on what other people are saying about you. It also has to do with the message and branding you deliver to your audience on a daily basis. Through the use of PR and marketing, anyone can greatly improve how the look, feel and represent themselves in the world today.
This is something that is well-known among some of the top marketing and reputation management experts in the world today. As we continue with our "Ask the Reputation Management Expert" series, you'll quickly discover that the concept of managing your reputation online is no longer something that needs to be outsourced to an expensive agency, but actually something you can start to monitor as act upon yourself!
Gini Dietrich Shares Her Best Advice on How to Protect Your Online Reputation
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the reputation management space.
A: I grew up in the traditional public relations world, where reputation management is key to what we do for brands. I’ve worked on asbestos issues, tires blowing up on cars, executive investor trading, and more.
Q: What is an online reputation specialist and why are they now so valuable to businesses and brands?
A: The shift that I’ve seen during my career is now everyone has a megaphone. Where organizations have always had unhappy customers, they weren’t able to tell thousands of people about it. Today, one tweet is all it takes to show dissatisfaction…and people aren’t afraid to use that tool. An online reputation specialist can help you monitor what is being said, craft responses, and be ready to work with the unhappy person on the other end.
Q: As an individual or brand, what is the best way to find out what people are saying about a specific name/brand online?
A: If you’re just starting out, I always recommend Talkwalker alerts (I like them better than Google alerts; they’re more accurate and timely). Anytime your name, your organization’s name, your competitors, the industry, or anything else you deem important is mentioned online, you’ll receive an alert. This way you can monitor what is being said and respond in real time.
Q: When negative content, complaints or reviews are found, what is the best action to take in regards to resolving the issue and possibly getting it removed?
A: We always recommend not trying to have complaints or reviews removed, unless they’re libel or untrue. But if someone is unhappy and they have a valid reason, the best thing you can do is respond publicly so other visitors see that you’re actively paying attention, and then take the conversation offline. Bad reviews and comments are as important as the good ones. No organization is perfect so we’re very cynical if we see all five-star reviews and nothing bad.
Q: Of all the review sites online, which are most harmful to a brands reputation and how should they be approached?
A: I would say Yelp is, but only because they’re not wiling to work with organizations when something untrue is said. I have a friend who had to sue a former partner for libel—and won—but Yelp wouldn’t remove the comments he’d made about her business. Even after the lawyers got involved. They have to exist, but I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in them.
Q: How is social media changing the way brands need to monitor what is being said about them outside of the search engines?
A: Most reviews don’t happen in search results…they happen on the social networks and on review sites. This makes it crucial to monitor what is being said in every nook and cranny of the web.
Q: What are some of the best ways to build a protective wall around your brand to prevent future attacks and negative content?
A: Don’t build a protective wall! You cannot control the conversation. You can participate. You can fix things when they go wrong (and they will go wrong). But if you think about it as a need to build a protective wall and control the message, you will fail. People will be unhappy. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s in how you respond that will make or break you.
Q: Outside of businesses and brands, how are everyday people being affected by negative attacks and what can they do to protect themselves?
A: Don’t be stupid! My rule of thumb is to never post anything that I’d be embarrassed for my 90-year-old grandfather to see. That means no swearing, no sex, no drugs, no religion, no politics, no off-color jokes. If he reads something, takes it out of context, and is disappointed in me, I shouldn’t post it.
Q: For an individual or brand that wants to take action right now, what is your best advice on how to research, analyze and improve one's online reputation?
A: These are the steps I would take:
- Do a Google search for your company name or your name.
- Do a Google search for your company name with the words “hate” or “sucks” in it. For instance, Gini Dietrich sucks. Or I hate Gini Dietrich.
- If there are negative things about you there, respond to them! It can be as simple as, “I would love to talk to you about this. Would you mind messaging me your phone number or email address?” And then you can take the conversation offline and make it private.
- Set up alerts to be notified when someone mentions you online—you’ll get the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- Have a plan for responding immediately.
- Create a content plan so you can build a community of loyalists who will defend you when someone says something negative.
- If something is wrong with your business operationally, fix it. No amount of reputation management will fix that.
Special thanks to Gini Dietrich for taking the time to share her expertise with our audience. Be sure to continue to read OnlineReputation.com for the latest news and actionable tips to improve your online reputation, while also seeing who our latest featured ORM expert is each week!