Bad press can happen to anyone: how to overcome a PR disaster

Irrespective of whether it is an industry, a business, an individual, etc., amidst today’s digital era everybody needs to manage their online reputation accordingly. We at ReputationDefender have previously addressed this important issue from various standpoints; we have shown how taxi unions lost hundreds of customers worldwide because of their poor ORM strategy; or how United Airlines evidenced a massive fall in the value of their stocks. Bad online reputation management often brings bad press, and, in light of such premise, no one is exempted from suffering an ORM crisis brought by the emergence of bad PR and bad press.

However, and even though falling victim of the aforementioned scenario is highly probable, there is also hope for dealing and, more importantly, overcoming such nagging and excruciating event. As of the emergence of the digital era, the Internet and the different social media platforms have gained tremendous importance. Thus, it is quite easy to come across companies and businesses in general struggling to protect their brands and their image against the myriad of possible pejorative eventualities that might end up being detrimental to them. Just recall previous events along with the ones mentioned at the beginning of this article where a company or a business face the dreary fallout of bad PR: in reality, all of them share something in common, and it is that it is quite hard to think clearly once the reputation has been compromised.

Nonetheless, regardless of the size and importance of the eventuality, there are several guidelines for mitigating the possible aftermath and the risk of everlasting damage:

Voice everything you have learned

Some companies have managed to make a positive name for themselves after being involved in not-so-friendly affairs in the court of public opinion. In fact, companies that have made a mistake in the past have regained their status after openly addressing the event it from time to time as a way of speaking about the things they learned. This sort of self-assessment allows companies to acknowledge their flaws and, sometimes, even their insecurities. And once this is shared with their customers and their target audience, they end up developing a solid connection. Because that is all that ORM is about: connecting with other people. By taking responsibility for every mistake, businesses and companies, in general, can actually create value and gain more customers and attention.

Act, do not react

One of the most important things that ought to be considered when addressing the vast spectrum of ORM, is to act first. And, in that sense, act instead of reacting. Most companies and the vast majority of individuals who outsource their ORM strategies often do so in hopes of remedying something (reaction to something pejorative and negative) bad that appears in the pages of Google results out of nowhere; however, and in accordance with what we have mentioned several times, the best time to focus on the scope of online reputation management is right before problems and challenges emerge.

Nevertheless, companies and people, in general, ignore the importance of their online track until it is too late: a negative review, a caustic forum thread or a terrible PR or press headline, all of them are the most common triggers for businesses to start minding their ORM. Of course it is possible to counteract and even fix the aftermath of these events; however, it can take months and, in some occasions, even years, thusly remaining open to suffering additional blows.

Image courtesy of Omkar Patyane at Pexels.com

Taking control of online reputation before issues start to arise is the most effective and cheapest way to manage the very first thing people and target audiences come across on the Internet. Think of it as a digital investment. This, of course, should be addressed as a digital strategy driven by proactivity: companies need to provide enough information in regard to their reputation in advance so that viewers get a better way to develop their own opinion about the business or the brand, or pretty much about anything worth taking care of.

In light of these facts, although some industries can tailor their ORM strategies to their needs and their target audiences, it is clear that in the thick of today’s digital juncture, everything requires some degree of online reputation management. Thus, the principle of making the first move, or acting instead of reacting applies irrespective of the nature of the business and the industry. ORM issues are no silent problems that fade away over time: they need to be fully addressed once they happen, but it has proven to be more effective to just act in advance and be prepared for whatever challenges might appear. That is how big companies have managed to make a successful comeback after suffering the consequences of their negligence.

* Featured Image courtesy of John Jackson at Pexels.com

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3 ways celebrities can avoid an attack from the media

There are many ways for online reputation to be manipulated or affected.  In previous posts, ReputationDefender has written about some of the mistakes that should be avoided if you want to protect your online reputation.  In today’s digital age where everyone goes online to comment on anything and everything, it’s relatively easy for anyone to have a direct impact on how the public views you online. 

This fact is especially true if you are a person with celebrity status or clearly in the public eye.  Actors, athletes, artists, and politicians are just some of the most common occupations which have to deal with negative and vicious comments on a daily basis.  For the most part, the negativity comes from the average Joe or Jane and people in the limelight can normally handle it without a hitch.  As a matter of fact, it’s quite common for those types of comments to be ignored, it’s part of the job.  But, what happens when the negativity comes from the media?  It’s a whole different story.

All news media has the power to influence how a recognized person is perceived.  So much so that the media has shown to have a direct influence on how people vote when election season rolls around.  It’s no secret that there are several news corporations which are biased and where there is clearly no objectivity.  It’s also quite clear that they know their viewers, followers, or readers will base their own opinions on what the organization tells them.  Whenever someone famous has a scandal on their hands, you can bet that the media will be quick to have an opinion.  So, how can those who are constantly being scrutinized by the media make sure that their reputation doesn’t suffer?

1 . Take preventive measures through you own behavior

A celebrity wouldn’t be criticized or their online reputation wouldn’t be in danger if they didn’t give the media any reason to target them. They must make sure that their behavior on and offline is top notch and to the highest standards.  What this means is that they must avoid giving controversial sound bites during interviews and public displays of anger, drunkenness, or intolerance (the typical fodder for haters and detractors).  Here’s where some would claim, “But celebrities are people, too, and they are prone to make human mistakes.”  True, but their recognition comes with a responsibility to be role models to millions of people so it would be wise for them to be on their best behavior.  Otherwise, media outlets will surely write articles and record sound bites that will try to tarnish the person’s reputation so that others do not follow their example.

Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

2. Understand that they are a huge target on the cloud

The cloud revolution created more virtual space for society to save their information without having to sacrifice phone or computer memory.  We have become confident that the information we put up on the cloud is safeguarded from prying eyes, and celebrities are not the exception.  However, there are those out there who live to obtain sensitive information and share it with the world.  Famous people have the biggest target on their backs and over the last couple of years, there have been uncountable stories of incriminating photos or videos which have been leaked to the media in order to show that celebrities are not as holy as some deem themselves to be.

And if it’s not a hacker, the recipient of the controversial content could easily leak it.  In order to avoid being hacked or having private information and images shared to the media, celebrities should either avoid doing those actions altogether, have the other person sign a confidentiality agreement, or not save the information on the Cloud where hackers are definitely going to try to obtain anything they can give the media so that they can tarnish the celebrity’s reputation.

3 . Face the detractors and negativity

As we said before, celebrities are humans as well, and they are likely to make mistakes every once in awhile.  When tragedy does strike, celebrities should fess up and recognize that they made a mistake.  Those who have gone on to admit their errors, normally haven’t had their reputation suffer and they bounce back relatively fast.  The opposite has happened to those who refuse to concede any wrongdoing.  The media can’t do that much damage once you recognize your own faults.  Not doing so would give the media numerous angles from which to attack you and your reputation.

The media is a major player in shaping people’s perceptions and reputation of a celebrity.  However, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.  The more aware that a celebrity is of how the media can use one’s actions against you, the better chances they have of ensuring they don’t give the media anything to talk about and the higher the chances of protecting one’s online reputation.   

* Featured Image courtesy of Martin Foskett at Pexels.com

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How to stop looking like an unpleasant phisher

Phishing is perhaps one of the today’s most infamous practices within the vast spectrum of the digital world. In fact, from an ORM standpoint, phishing, or being linked to carrying out phishing activities can arguably be devastating for the name of a company or a business in general. We at ReputationDefender previously stressed that when it comes to strengthening a business’s online reputation, avoiding looking like a dreary and a bothersome phisher is almost mandatory.

Phishing e-Mails are often used by all kinds of cyber criminals to trick people into providing or, better said, handing over sensitive information such as their usernames, their passwords, social security numbers, PIN numbers, credit card details, amongst others. If the phisher is successful, meaning: if the fraudulent e-Mail fulfills and accomplishes its purpose, the recipient can fall victim of a sheer array of issues, especially, identity theft, or maybe they will just find their credit card maxed out or their bank account with balance zero.

This scenario has alerted major Internet Service Providers and other mailbox providers, which is why they are seemingly becoming more aware of any incoming mail that looks like it could be a phishing attempt: anything looking like a fraudulent or malicious mail goes directly to the junk box, or, sometimes, it gets deleted upon arrival.

This being said, it is not difficult to also fall victim of being linked to phishing activities —it is not a secret that some industries seem to be more prone to suffer this kind of situations, especially, the banking or mailing industries; however, there are certainly several things a company, irrespective of its nature, can do to prevent its e-Mail campaigns being mistaken for fraudulent or phishing attempts.

This is particularly important even from the online reputation management standpoint: when it comes to developing and maintaining a strong brand, nothing seems to be more of paramount importance than trust; a lack of trust is detrimental to even the most creative and compelling marketing campaigns. The digital age, of course, also brought along a new paradigm in regard to how companies and brands convey information to their customers thanks to today’s social media platforms, improper engagement, and bad practices can spread around the globe in less than the blink of an eye.

With phishing attacks on the rise, regaining control of e-Mail channels should be no less than mandatory and essential for every company that values the trust of their clients; by making sure a company does not ask for information out of well-meant motives, any particular business will not only be able to overcome this dreary issue of being linked to phishing, but also will see an improvement in customer response rates. Be that as it may, here are several strategies a company can follow in order to work against unscrupulous copycats:

Stay away from mismatched URLs

Perhaps the most basic and common example of a phishing technique is an e-Mail asserting and reporting malicious and fraudulent activity on an account and asking the recipient to click on a link just to verify the information. This apparently innocent and harmless link could actually be hiding something terrible; in fact, bad links are hidden behind a legitimate looking link —especially those from banks— which is why recipients do not hesitate to clink on them most of the times —nor question their legitimacy. These links manage to trick people into downloading malware to their computers or accessing insecure websites.

To determine whether an e-Mail may be indeed a phishing attempt or scam, the e-Mail client looks for a specific link in the recipient’s HTML campaign where the text being displayed is an URL: if the displayed link seems to differ from the actual URL, the user gets an instant notification. Sadly, cybercriminals have become really tech-savvy, and they have come up with different ways to carry out phishing scams, to the point where these have been designed to work in a rather large variety of ways, one of which, like the aforementioned technique, consists of hiding malicious links that are seemingly legitimate. Internet and safety researchers have developed different ways to combat this increasingly used thread: they have developed software that detects fraudulent e-Mails while scanning for mismatched links.

Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

Authentication is everything

Phishing e-Mails normally use spoofing to trick recipients and mislead them about where the e-Mail was actually sent from. Basically, a “spoofed” e-Mail is a message with a fake sender address, thusly posting as if it was sent from a trusted source; nevertheless, and unfortunately, this is not actually that hard to do because an e-Mail —the process of conveying e-Mail messages between mail servers— was not precisely designed with high standards of security in mind. And here is where authentication technology steps in authenticating e-Mail addresses validate the identity of both a company or a business and the e-Mail Service Provider.

Do not overlook the power of setting up a custom domain

Instead of getting accustomed to using the default subdomain generated for a particular account, it seems to be much better and wiser to override it with a custom domain. Custom domains are the ones referenced in every campaign a company sends, meaning it will appear in the URLs for website version links, amongst other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Internet Service Providers assess the domains referenced in a particular campaign in order to find out whether these match the company’s DNS records. Besides, spoofed or fake e-Mails sent by unscrupulous phishers lack that kind of customization.

Ask for information the right way

Last but not least, sometimes companies have got to ask for specific (personal) information about their customers, or ask account holders to update their information for well meant (and legitimate) purposes. For example, it is ok to let customers know about a data security breach and ask them to reset their passwords; however, most of the times, this will sound tremendously suspicious. Apply the aforementioned techniques to provide e-Mails with a good reputation and make the content look entirely trustworthy: provide explanations, choose words carefully, use customization, reference trusted websites, do not ask customers to click on a link, pose as security conscious and include a permission reminder, etc.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

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All right, you need Online Reputation Management: What now?

They say that defining a problem is really half of the solution. If your business is going through a bad time, and the main reason for this is due to the bad – or almost non-existing – online reputation in search engines, at least you already know where to focus your efforts in the digital marketing department of your business. In this post, we’ll talk about what to do when you already know that you need to invest in online reputation management, but you do not know exactly where to start or what to do whatsoever.

Related: How do you know if you need Online Reputation Management?

So, the first thing you should do is to question the way you treat your customers, both potential and those you already have. Regardless of your experience in the industry to which you belong, no matter how well things have gone in some moments of your company or how much you have learned in entrepreneurship courses, you will need to unlearn old knowledge and learn the new one. Online reputation management is a complex job, and sometimes it is because of the very stubbornness of clients. The first step to start improving your online reputation, of course, is to know that you need to improve it, but the second step is to be willing to unlearn useless ideas and learn useful ones.

This is not simple. Many do not like to “re-learn” something apparently so elemental. The ego is always in the middle, especially if you have been a successful entrepreneur. However, just remember why you are reading this post in the first place since you do need to implement some necessary changes and this involves abandoning old schemas and building others from scratch.

Now, before continuing with the second step, you need to understand that while it is important to keep updated on new techniques, tools, algorithm changes in Google, etc., in the long run, it is much more important to understand the basic principles of online reputation, which, by the way, fit into any new circumstances. The first one is that if you do not deal with your own online reputation, someone or others will do it for you, and this is not necessarily good (we all have people we do not like us, right?) The second one, respect the rules, do things right. Your good deeds may be a better protection than the work of the best online reputation professionals. Watch your silence and evaluate everything you publish before posting it. Thirdly, your customers should be a priority and not just an economic one. They are human beings with needs, just like you. Treat them with the care you treat yourself, and the consequences of it will come back to you.

Now, to improve your online reputation it is essential to review what you offer: Is it a service, is it a product? Make it the best. It is vital that brands produce valuable content simply because it is the only way the public knows and is interested in brands’ new features. Before your products or services improve, try to learn more about your niche: Has it changed? Do they still need the same? Which are the common complaints of your niche about your competition?

Image courtesy of rawpixel.com at Pexels.com

The third step is to outline a good plan to improve the relationships with your customers. Set long, medium and short-term goals; take a calendar and write them down there. Set what days you will work on it … and do it! Look for tools to monitor your online reputation, such as Hootsuite or Market Samurai, so you’re aware of what they say about your brand in the social media, forums, and blogs. Answer the bad comments, and do it with respect. Spend time each week to review and correct your bad reputation.

Work on two big fronts. One, as mentioned above, has to do with reputation monitoring. The other has to do with a content strategy. It is important that you have a presence on the Internet. Potential customers must type your name or your brand’s in Google and find content that enhances your business. How? You can start new blogs and periodically publish content related to your business activity. Publish every week from your website or blogs, share those contents on social networks and through your email database. In this way, you will not only be present in the searches of users (if you apply some SEO techniques, your content could even be in the first search results,) but, in case there is inconvenient content about your online reputation, the new content you produce will push off all that negative information to those search pages that no one reviews.

Recommended: 10 Pro Online Reputation Management Tips For Local Businesses

Finally, keep in mind that there are companies that work on this matter. ReputationDefender is a reliable, experienced brand that can do all the mentioned activities for you. Just like illnesses and self-medication, when it comes to the online reputation it is best to count on the knowledge of experts.

* Featured Image courtesy of Travis Isaacs at Flickr.com

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