Constructive feedback on online reputation management

Three weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Online Reputation Management Requires Cabinet War Rooms,” that reported on the Brand & Reputation Management session at last month’s Search Engine Strategies conference in London.


Last week, I got some feedback from Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, the chief reputation strategist at Weber Shandwick and author of Corporate Reputation: 12 Steps to Safeguarding and Recovering Reputation.

She said: “Thanks for the roundup regarding the panel discussion. I would add that companies probably do not need ‘War Rooms’ today and instead incorporate reputation monitoring as a regular course of business. Not just when in the throes of crisis. In addition, reputation recovery does not end in six months or when the negative comments leave the first page of Google. From the work we have done at Weber Shandwick on reputation, it takes nearly four years to recover reputation once it has been tarnished. Reputation recovery and management (online and offline) are never-ending. Thanks again for your thought-provoking comments.”

Now, I agree that companies should incorporate reputation monitoring as a regular course of business. But, they often don’t – until they are in the throes of crisis.

And, I agree that reputation recovery shouldn’t end when the negative comments leave the first page of Google. But, that’s often the first sign that a crisis has passed.

So, how do you convince your CEO to include offline and online reputation management as a line item in the marketing budget before it’s too late? And, if it takes nearly four years to repair a bad reputation, then how can you earn credibility for yourself and your SEO or PR firm by showing early signs of progress?

As I conducted a few news searches to find some recent information for this post, I was impressed to discover an optimized press release entitled, “Global CEO Turnover Rises 10 Percent in Past 12 Months According to New Weber Shandwick Study.”

“Given stagnant markets, fierce competition and a complex business environment, it is not surprising that CEO turnover has risen sharply,” said Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross in the release.

Wow. Talk about writing a press release that will get found by your target audience for relevant news search terms. And just what should CEOs do to hang on to their jobs?

“In today’s uncertain economic environment when information and news are at a premium, CEOs would be wise to actively over communicate and regularly meet employees and customers face-to-face,” said Weber Shandwick President Andy Polansky in the release.

Okay. So, I know several SEO firms that “get” online reputation management, But, here’s a PR firm that has gone beyond spouting empty platitudes about the topic and has conducted an ongoing analysis of “CEO Departures” to put “leadership communications” on the agenda.

But wait! There’s more!

I conducted another news search and found an interactive case study in BusinessWeek entitled, “The Analysis: Restoring Reputation.” Written by Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, it tells the story of how Xerox’s reputation has enjoyed a successful turnaround since 2001, with CEO Anne Mulcahy pulling the strings.

Okay. Now, I’m really impressed. Leslie provided constructive feedback on my article about online reputation management. She was quoted in a press release that should catch the attention of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. And she’s written a case study about how Xerox’s CEO has turned around that company’s reputation – for BusinessWeek.

Online reputation management shouldn’t require a crisis to become a line item in the budget. And it can enhance your corporate reputation as well as help you recover from a tarnished one, which can help your SEO or PR firm earn credibility with the CEO.

And, don’t just take my word for it. If you need a second opinion, check out what they’re doing over at Weber Shandwick.

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