onlineReputationManagement_Ideafarms_Part2

Why would I ask someone else to manage MY online reputation? Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of a 3-post series – Online Reputation Management (ORM) is more than just damage control. Simply entrusting the job to PR professionals especially in the Social Media world is a sure recipe for disaster. (Read on or go to Part 1)

ORM – Think about it. Does ORM mean managing the reputation of your ‘online’ business OR does it mean using online platforms and tools to manage your ‘offline’ reputation OR is it a bit of both … OR is it something else altogether?

Let’s look at recent examples of reputation toll that money couldn’t buy (in no particular order).

Last Edition of News of The World
The Final Goodbye

1. Bad News of The World: Death of a newspaper (RIP)
Speculation about whether this could have been avoided is futile. Jane Wilson, CEO of the U.K.’s Chartered  Institute of Public Relations, wisely notes that the closing of the News of the World – œis a great example of traditional and social  media working together to produce a staggering outcome.-

Google Search – Results

2. The 2G spectrum allocation scam: All stripped and nowhere to hide
India’s political invincibles are cooling their heels in Tihar. Corporate fortresses have not been spared either. The much revered Tata brand is a surprise casualty, least for the way Ratan Tata literally ‘asked for it’.

I’m not sure if PR could’ve saved the day for them and others who haven’t yet realised that their currency of ‘information asymmetry’ has been hopelessly devalued.

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Remember the story – the one-horse town that had 2 barbers; — one dishevelled and the other not a hair out of place — the dishevelled guy was the better barber. I’m not saying that PR, Advertising, MarComm or other communication professionals don’t know communication. The scary part is that while they seem to know the HOW of communication; they do not want to even acknowledge or take responsibility for the more critical WHAT. I’m worried about their understanding (and acceptance) of the realities of today; it simply isn’t yesterday once more guys!

Online spares none!!

And the speed of technology evolution isn’t helping either. By the time you get to figuring out how to exploit one wave, another surges from right behind it. Conversations are the new content; structuring them into content bins (databases) is a sure way to diminish value. We know that reputation is

“the way others see you and what they think of you“.

Your reputation is about your WHOLE personality, the good with the bad (and the indifferent), not just the good parts. So there’s a chance that if you say what you mean and do what you say, they’ll trust you a whole lot and more.

Now, there’s a bunch of reputation management companies offering services ostensibly using tools that can look for all instances of mentions of you or your company across the Web and strip the negative comments/mentions and whathaveyou. Automated scavenging … hmmm. Funny they have a hard time managing their own reputation though. ;-). See this post about Reputation.com (formerly ReputationDefender). And not far behind is a creed of ‘experts’ hustling you into trying some form of automated social media or other. Automated Social Media?? Gimme a break!

Be careful of all the jargon out there. Take responsibility for your end of the deal. Too many clients “outsource” their own responsibility of defining what they need to the agency. It is key to determine what you or your company stands for, not just what the doctor ordered. Pardon my use of the cliche but don’t, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

From blogpost on Reputation Mismanagement:

Consistency will always get you better “rankings” online and offline:
While the Internet has become the choice for many to evaluate a product or service, getting positive reviews with traditional word of mouth trumps all else. When you’re at a restaurant checking email on your Blackberry and someone is doing the same on their Droid, any comparison with intuitive features shared in-person and then verified online will be a powerful brand and reputation builder.

By the way, the barber analogy fits nicely with the way today’s content ‘virals’ itself through communities. Word of mouth is a great viral that’s unflatteringly labelled gossip by some. Your reputation does not lend itself to virality (if such a word exists) despite what the new media department of your advertising agency tells you. And Word of Mouth (WoM) is replacing the credibility (read reputation) of the very folks who claim they can manage yours!

<< (go to Part 1)

 (go to Part 3) >>

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Sunil Malhotra

Sunil doubles as Chief of Creative and Culture at Ideafarms. An Entrepreneur, a Consultant-at-large, an avid reader and a passionate speaker has a key objective to bring design-led user sensitivity to the Information Technology business. His belief in individual talent and an interdisciplinary mix provided the impetus to his founding Ideafarms. You can also follow him @SunilMalhotra

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  • Madhavan N

    Brilliant. Good amplification of both lasting insights and emerging trends!

    • Thanks Madhavan!

      It seems to me that we’ve all become comfortable with ‘artificiality’ whether in our personal relationships or in business. We’ve gotten used to half-truths as acceptable ‘marketing’ practice – the ‘buyer beware’ tenet has gone too far. Thanks to today’s technology everybody is empowered to seek and find what they need, social media interactions leading the charge.

  • Vishnu

    Sunil, good stuff and no sitting on the fence … would not have expected anything else of you my friend. Vishnu.

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