Managing your online reputation is a critical component of public relations and should be included in your overall strategy. Ignoring it could cost your business clients and revenue.
Not sure you understand the concepts and importance of public relations to begin with? Learn How Public Relations Impacts Your Business to arm yourself with the basics. Then check out the list of brand reputation strategies below to help you manage your online reputation:
Research and Monitor.
First, it’s important to know what has already been said about you. If you’ve not yet taken the time to research your presence online, now is the time. Do a quick Google search of your business and read the reviews, comments, and feedback wherever you’re listed. It’s important to get a really good understanding of your social footprint. This could include review websites, social media platforms, and news sites.
Positive or negative, simply respond. Not responding to someone seeking information can lead to bad reviews about you without them actually ever doing business with you. The quicker and more professional the better. With negative comments or reviews, like a bad wound, if you leave it in hopes it will go away, it will typically fester and can grow wildly out of control.
If you’re aware of an issue and you know that it will soon be public knowledge and could potentially backfire on you, be proactive and address it before anyone else gets the opportunity. This allows you to control the message from the start and provides a chance to drive the conversation appropriately in the direction you want it to go.
One of our most important tips in public relations, especially in the world of social media is: don’t hide criticism. Address it publicly and professionally WHEN appropriate. We agree there are times when some comments can be left untouched, but others, especially those who are providing inaccurate information, derogatory or threatening remarks, should be addressed immediately. To learn more about how to navigate WHEN and IF to respond, check out Reframing, Minimizing & Navigating Negative Comments on Social Media.
Most importantly, just be honest and open with communication. This means internally and externally. Don’t keep your employees or your clients in the dark. In addition, communication should be strong when business is going well and when you’re struggling. Be timely when responding to inquiries just as you would to problems. If someone contacts you to get information and you can tell they may not be an ideal customer, or you can’t provide them a product or service at that time, still take the time to respond. Ignoring people because you don’t have time is a poor reflection on your business and could be a cause for negative reviews even if they’ve not had the opportunity to do business with you.
Know Your Audience.
Knowing and targeting your audience is key. If you’re speaking to the wrong people about your business or organization, you’re wasting your time and money. Your brand needs to speak to YOUR audience – those who are your ideal clients and most likely to become brand advocates. Unsure of who they are or how to engage them? Check out It All Hinges On Your Audience! to learn how to research and analyze your audience.
Know When to Defend Yourself or Your Business.
Know when to fight back, in the right way. In reality, the only time it is acceptable to fight back is when you have illegitimate attackers, those who are threatening you or someone else’s wellbeing, or someone is spreading inaccurate information that can legitimately be catastrophic to your business or others. Sometimes getting an attorney involved early on is the best option if you have exhausted other measures to remedy the situation. The presence of legal counsel may be an immediate remedy to the situation.
Ask for Feedback and Reviews.
Don’t be afraid to solicit feedback on your products or services and reviews. Encourage those happy clients to leave reviews wherever they are willing. Google Business reviews are critical as well as any social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. In addition, consider review sites like Yelp, TrustPilot, BBB, or industry specific sites like Angie’s List. Provide easy instructions and links to your clients when you follow up with them about their purchases. Make it easy for them to provide a review. If you’re providing them with a positive experience and they’re pleased with what they’ve received, they should be more than willing to provide reviews for you.
Build Brand Advocates.
Having solid brand advocates in the digital world is a huge benefit to your public relations efforts. Arming your supporters with important, correct information and allowing them to naturally advocate for you is a massive win. People trust reviews and opinions on services and products from their networks. According to Oberlo.com, 54% of social browsers use social media to research products. If you’ve got advocates out there providing positive reviews and feedback about your business, it’s a win for you. It’s even better when they come to your defense should something negative arise in the public.
Public relations isn’t something only for key public figures and influencers. Public relations is something that all businesses and organizations must understand and consider when managing their operations and marketing. Ignoring it will be detrimental to your business. Still want to learn more about proper reputation management. Check out A Business Must: Reputation Management and contact us for assistance!