In this era of enhanced interconnectivity, reputation management and PR go hand in hand. Defined as the management of relationships between an organisation and the constituencies on which it depends, there is no doubt that relationship management has become a pivotal facet of any successful business.

Today, the digital age has fundamentally changed the way businesses need to approach marketing communications, and this includes public relations. PR now goes hand in hand with digital marketing, as well as other more traditional approaches to the industry.

Monitoring Online Reputation

(Businesses need to have their fingers on the pulse if they are to successfully manage their online reputation in a fast-paced social media environment. Image: Clutch)

With almost three billion people active on social media channels, news spreads at a rapid rate, and companies have had to adapt fast to ensure that any damaging content towards their brand is managed as swiftly as possible.

Number of social media users

(Image showing a total number of social media users: Image: Statista)

The importance of regular reputation management is highlighted by the above Clutch survey, which highlighted that many companies monitor their online reputation every day – over one-fifth of those surveyed revealed that they check social channels each hour to ensure that they’re on top of any developing stories.

Notable cases of reputation management are typically found when businesses fail to react appropriately to breaking stories surrounding them. When United Airlines issued a repugnant response to the recording of a passenger being forcefully removed from their flight, shares in its parent company, United Continental Holdings dropped by $1 billion.

Reputation and an empowered public

Social media has grown to become an untameable beast. While the public relations masters of yesteryear could efficiently spin stories in the press, today a single act of gross negligence can gain millions of views in minutes – causing a business to undergo a trial by Twitter, or Instagram.

Pushing misconduct into the public eye can be a good thing. After all, if a business is going to build itself into a trustworthy entity, it has to be made aware of its shortcomings as swiftly as possible. But Juda Engelmayer, of HeraldPR, warns against the existential threat that isolated actions of a single rogue staff member can cause for businesses: “People can tweet whatever they want, or they can go to Yelp or Facebook to post about a bad experience. This can have a huge effect on search engines.”

In an interview to Hackernoon, Mariya Lapuk, Co-Founder of Vinci Agency stresses the importance of building a brand’s reputation through media exposure as a means of generating both money and value to target markets: “if you want to raise $30 million, then you should make no less than 500 publications in the media. If the number is $10 million, for example, then that means 150–200 publications. In this regard, 10–15% of them should be in the top tier of media.”

If poor reputation management can lead to negative stories manifesting on social media and reviewing sites, it can not only affect a business’s reputation on platforms and impact the company’s share value, but also hit its position within Google’s search engine results pages.

Repairing reputation

Given the increasing importance of reputation management in an interconnected world today, there are plenty of views on how to firefight emerging negative stories on social media, but few are as efficient and forthright as AXIA’s approach on the matter. AXIA endorses the three Rs: Repair, rebuild and recuperate.

Should your business suffer the misfortune of requiring reputation remediation, your first thoughts should focus on how to repair some of the damage before it develops further. AXIA explains that “Given limitations of consumer review sites and the reach of the Internet, you should handle this in a concerted, thoughtful and aggressive manner.”

Once the initial outbreak has been quelled to as manageable a level as possible, thoughts should turn to rebuilding. It’s imperative that companies that suffer reputational setbacks swiftly set up a fresh PR campaign that looks to restore brand image through various platforms such as social media, the press, blogging and so on. The idea here is to build a positive public perception of the business in question as an ethical entity that’s trustworthy as a whole.

Finally comes recuperation. Here, businesses are implored to bury any remaining negative connotations surrounding its reputation by optimising digital properties and image through strategic SEO, rapid response and around the clock social and review site monitoring.

Reputational tools

The digital arena features plenty of tools and services that promise to manage brand reputation remotely and in a way that ensures peace of mind for organisations.

There are plenty of agencies at the forefront of reputation management solutions. Reputation Management is one example of an organisation keen to acknowledge that negative press is a common occurrence for large scale businesses and dedicates a chunk of its management services to automatically mitigating articles, reviews or online comments that cast your organisation in a negative light whilst building a positive news agenda to repair public perceptions.

A more organic way in which you can consistently monitor your brand’s reputation is through Google Alerts. By instructing Google to notify you whenever your business name is mentioned online, you have the ability to nip developing negative stories in the bud by instantly addressing them and maintaining your image.

Google Alerts

If you’re looking for a thorough insight into your brand reputation, then look no further than The Brand Grader (A tool brought to life by Mention). This tool gets to grips with all of your mentions, providing deep insights into your referring websites, sentiment detection to determine whether comments about your business are positive or negative, and even ‘mention locations’ – to help you see exactly where your brand is being talked about.

Of course, there’s no better way of monitoring your reputation than through the use of a good old fashioned web browser. Simply search online for your business name and pay close attention to the high ranking results pages: it’s what 90% of your customers will see before they navigate on to your web pages.

Read more: Why is Reputation Important?