In the pre-internet years, a business’s reputation depended on word of mouth and journalistic reporting of good and bad actions. Reputation management was part of Public Relations (PR) theory, and large businesses had enough resources (and still do) for hiring public relations firms that could sway public opinion.
In contrast, small businesses rarely had enough resources for hiring PR firms, which meant bad reputations potentially stuck with them for years or even decades. The internet changed the balance between public relations for large and small businesses, putting all businesses on equal footings.
Online Reputation Management
With the proliferation of the internet came a rise in misinformation, which is information masked as truth but is actually fake. This phenomenon occurs because those who post misinformation online present it so that it looks authentic. Wikipedia is much improved now, but just a decade ago, someone could change the information in a Wikipedia article and get it through the auditors. This misinformation would remain in place until someone else caught it.
Imagine a business with a disgruntled ex-employee posting misinformation about that business on Wikipedia? How many would read and believe it before someone changed it again? Wikipedia stepped up and began battling what they term “hoaxes”. Consequently, Wikipedia maintains a list of notable hoaxes.
The spread of misinformation online led to creating a new industry that has its roots in PR. Known as Online Reputation Management (ORM), these companies focus on what information comes up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The Benefits of Online Business Reputation Management
In 2011, an Alabama-based law firm filed suit against Taco Bell on behalf of their “seasoned beef” description, and some may even remember this news story because it went national. Taco Bell quickly went to work mitigating the bad PR, forcing the law firm to drop the suit. Online business reputation management works the same way by seeking out the websites that post misinformation or authentic information about a business. At this point, there are several things ORM can do. For example:
- The ORM business can post positive press releases on reputable websites, so that good press outweighs bad press.
- Posting good product reviews in large numbers so that bad product reviews do not filter to the top. This is a popular tactic on Amazon and eBay. Consequently, this tactic works in reverse.
- The ORM can take action by removing images that show business executives in compromising positions.
- A common tactic for digital marketing agencies is strategic SEO to get high-ranking positions on SERPs. In other words, ORM businesses could hire firms like Web Rocket Media that specialize in strategic SEO best practices.
The brief list above is only a partial list of many things online business reputation management companies offer businesses. How online reputation management works depends on the type of information. The ORM either takes steps to hide or correct misinformation or promote information that benefits a business’s products. If you need your online information to work for you, give Web Rocket Media a call and let our experts show what we do.