“Reputation matters because your behind is always behind you.” – Happy Masina –
It is simply amazing how many successful people don’t own the website correlating to their name, even lawyers and billionaires. And so few understand that the first few Google SERP entries can best be managed by regular content sharing, participation, and the like. Just by being an active participant in social media, your websites, blogs, and positive content can rank, providing your reputation with a great defensive wall around your business efforts.
Today, everyone has become his or her own online reputation manager, and basic public relations campaigns can and should be done by everyone for themselves. Face it, business people who cannot manage their own smaller PR intricacies, to an extent, are a bit like athletes who cannot play sports. That said, every athlete needs a coach, sooner or later too.
As for online reputation, the way to properly manage one’s own brand reputation is through link building, content generation, and a well-managed synchronization among all your channels—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, website and blog sites, and news sites that mention your name and your industry. In fact, understanding and implementing such strategies, as we shall see, is a lot less expensive than “un-ringing” the proverbial reputation bell.”
Of course, as almost all readers of SEJ know, that’s the basics. Now for a concrete example of worst cases.
Late one night a few years ago a Canadian filmmaker called me frantically. The thirty-something entrepreneur and family man explained to me that he works hard making small, independent movies, not yet a Hollywood mover and shaker — just a small business owner who does what he loves doing. He explained to me someone having purchased domains and writing nasty untruths about him on these sites and other film websites. He never had a marketing company of any sort before — no website, social media presence. Nothing.
The gist of the story was, his adversary had posted negative information about the filmmaker, basically what amounted to psychological warfare for our filmmaker. Personally and professionally, this was very damaging for him. The moviemaker’s enemy started off by commenting on as many online movie and entertainment websites as he could, saying that the man was a “crook” and a “scumbag.” Perhaps some of you are familiar with terms like “flaming”, trolling, and others of the web’s nastiest little habits? All of this, the Canadian filmmaker was exposed to, and much more.
Eventually, this situation escalated into the transgressor calling our client a drug addict and making other very cruel and false accusations, including things like, “If you give money to him, you might as well flush it down the toilet.”
At this juncture my client was hesitant to seek out investors and to raise money for films with all of this nonsense floating around – he was even concerned for his children’s well-being and safety. He felt hunted and unsafe. Ultimately the filmmaker spent around six figures with 5WPR to fight this online war using strategic ORM and SEO campaigns, which we quickly implemented in what became a stealth defensive war.
We took measures such as creating our own blogs, generated positive, robust new content in as many online spaces as possible, and even created new domain names. We optimized links to sites and stories referencing him to ensure our sites came up initially when searches for his name were launched. In short, we initiated what was a fairly massive damage control effort to stem the flow of negative vibe, ultra damaging digital warfare.
After hundreds of hours of work and painstaking dedication, we accomplished our mission. Today, when you a do a search for the filmmaker, nothing but positive information comes up in the first seven pages of a search. It was an expensive lesson, but one he had to fight. Now, thankfully, the filmmaker has his own impenetrable wall — I see this barrier like a Great Wall of China myself.
Such a Great Wall of China is necessary as a preemptive measure for almost any business. Just one negative consumer, client, patron, competitor, can potentially destroy unprotected businesses. Without defensive measures in place, any disgruntled nut job with a laptop and an Internet connection can essentially change forever your online reputation.
This kind of retribution by an angry person can and does happen to any business or brand, small or large, often, with devastating consequences. It’s necessary for brands to always monitor and protect themselves online from negative comments, bloggers, or journalists with an agenda, and crackpots like the one my filmmaker client was facing.
Fighting these battles strategically is necessary PR for the 21st century — a fight many brands don’t yet realize the importance of. A few crackpots can change a company’s stock price, Web reputation, sales, and, frankly, existence.
In the Internet age, affecting search engine results are a necessary part of PR campaigns. And they say SEO is dead? There will always be keywords and phrases, as long as we have words.
Photo credits: Great Wall – courtesy © lily – Fotolia.com & Troll – courtesy © AlienCat – Fotolia.com