There are three phases of brand reputation maintenance include building, maintaining, and recovering reputation.

To thrive in your industry, you’ll need dedicated PR efforts toward creating—and protecting — a positive reputation. There are three main categories of reputation management, applicable to companies of all sizes:

Reputation Building

Every new business has to start somewhere. This stage of reputation management is focused on providing a foundation that will allow your company to grow and succeed.

Reputation Maintenance

Maintaining a good reputation takes work, but less work than recovering a damaged one. A bulk of your online reputation management strategy will revolve around preserving a good image and enhancing it where you can.

Reputation Recovery

Although a reputation disaster can happen overnight, and often right in the middle of the day, it doesn’t have to affect your brand forever. Recovery is the part of reputation management that deals with responding to and resolving reputation crises when they do occur.

Reputation Building

This is a key developmental stage in any reputation management strategy. At this point, your main goal is to monitor online reputation, develop a strong, positive presence. New business trying to own a bigger share of brand visibility usually start with:

  • Reputation monitoring
  • Website
  • Basic social media profiles
  • Review management program

The nice thing about a program like this is that a basic reputation plan uses very few resources. The objective is simply to begin with the low-hanging fruit of brand visibility management. This level of program can focus on only five or six web properties, enabling a company to focus on a high-quality content and review management program.

Here is the most basic reputation ingredient list for new companies:

  • Setup free reputation monitoring using TalkWalker.
  • Your website

Your website should rank first in search results, and be returned for a branded voice search.

Basic social media profiles:

  • LinkedIn Company Page
  • Facebook Company Page
  • Twitter (company)

Review management. Pick the top two review sites your competitors are most active on. Chances are these review sites will rank for your brand as well. For example, if a restaurant Yelp is obvious. If a hotel, TripAdvisor is clearly one you should pay attention to.


Because you’re doing so from the ground-up, most of the focus will be on creating content and relationships with customers so they’ll positively review your company – ideally no one will write anything bad about your nascent organization. It’s a lot easier to manage reviews after your review management program has been running for a while.

Reputation Maintenance

If you’ve already been in business for a while, and your reputation online is good, you probably just need to maintain it. Eventually, nearly all companies get nailed online whether they deserve it or not. But a company that has built and maintained positive sentiment online will have an easier time defending themselves because they already have a strong online profile.

Maintenance is the stage you will focus most of your reputation management efforts on once your company is mature. It’s a bit like insurance, you invest in it “just in case”.

By now, you will have established a presence online, as well as standards related to how you interact with consumers. With those important building blocks in place, you can turn your attention to enhancing what you have and increasing your positive presence in search and social environments.

In order to achieve this, you’ll want to do a few things:

  • Make sure your site is optimized to appeal to search engines. That means a strong mobile site, quick loading pages, and lots of relevant, quality content that is refreshed and added to regularly.
  • Build relationships with websites that can boost your reputation within your industry. Since you already have your social media profiles setup, add to them by offering to be a guest contributor on an industry website. Try to get the name of your brand in the headline of any articles you write for another website because they’ll perform better in Google.
  • Put efforts into SEO. Appropriate use of tags, keywords, image descriptions, etc. will all go a long way toward convincing search engines your content belongs at the top. Here’s how to learn SEO.
  • Keep up your review management efforts.

Reputation Recovery

If you’ve built and maintained a comprehensive reputation program recovery will be much easier when the inevitable storm hits. Unfortunately, most companies don’t engage in a reputation campaign until something bad has happened.

A reputation problem can stain the best of companies. Even if you’re doing everything right, there will always be a customer who isn’t fully satisfied and wants to tell everyone about it, or a competitor who wants to bring you down. If you’ve already established a strong, positive presence you’re in a good place, but you’ll likely still need to do some damage control.

  • Bad reviews. Customers complain publicly because they want their complaint acknowledged. Always respond to negative reviews on sites where the reviewer can change their review or delete it – try to fix the problem. Hopefully, they will change their review. If you get a negative review on an attack site where the person who posted it cannot retract it, a response in writing may actually make things worse. This is because Google rewards content that is refreshed.
  • Bad rankings. If you don’t show up high enough in the search rankings, or if the first page or two of results for your name bring up too many negative results, you’ll need to take active measures toward improving the situation. Increase the amount of positive content that’s associated with you by amping up your efforts for the steps listed above in “reputation maintenance.”
  • Direct attacks. In the fight for clicks, bloggers and competitors may seek to harm you directly. A common tactic of bloggers is to write something negative to get clicks. Clicks often translate to more advertising money for the blogger. While you do have legal recourse in cases of libel, most of the time you’ll either have to ask (politely) for the content to be removed, or you’ll have to focus on boosting enough positive content about yourself that it drowns out the negative. Unfortunately, the structure of the web today rewards people leveraging negativity bias for personal reward.

A Simple Reputation Management Plan

If you want to get started improving how your brand is seen online, you might want to consider our simple reputation plan. It’s a low-resource way to get started with reputation improvement.

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