With conversations about brands moving further into the digital space, online reputation management (ORM) continues its massive impact on how the public perceives your business.
Virtually every company today has a digital presence, whether they know it or not. Customers have the power to generate Google listings, share their experiences on social media, and give star ratings that affect the likelihood that other users will consider a business in the future. Even traditional media outlets are taking their stories online.
Managing your online reputation is the best way to ensure that you’re seen as the brand you actually are and want to be. Here are four ways ORM can boost your company’s PR image.
1. You control your narrative
As we mentioned, your company has a digital presence—and therefore, an online reputation—no matter what. Staying on top of your ORM allows you to paint the picture of what your brand is, instead of letting others do so for you. After all, once something is on the web, it’s difficult to erase for good.
When you claim your business listings, respond to reviews, and maintain your company website and social media pages, you become the official voice of your own brand. Not only does this let you clearly define all the basic must-knows about your company, including your values and hours of operation, but it also allows you to push positive content.
Anytime someone searches for your company, your ORM will ensure that they find the content you want them to see first.
Pushing the right content forward is a must when working with media outlets. Journalists look online for both their pre-interview and post-interview research—and sometimes write articles without interviews at all—so having official resources available to them will guide them toward the right on-brand information and images. If you don’t manage your online reputation, you’ll likely find misinformation reaching a mass audience. In the worst case scenario, you may find negative reviews becoming louder than your own voice or a critical social media post being quoted without your proactive response.
With a well-managed reputation, the message you’re sending will be consistent across all owned, earned, and paid channels. Your audience will have a clear image of who you are and what you do. As long as your actions match this image, your Media Monitoring tool will likely display strong positive sentiment when it comes to your brand.
2. You balance out negative feedback
It’s not always possible to prevent negative feedback from coming in. Whether it’s in the form of a review or a social media post, customers always have the opportunity to share their honest experiences with their personal audiences. If you’re not paying attention to what your customers are saying online, a single piece of negative feedback can quickly spiral into a PR crisis.
Take the case of #DeleteUber, for example. In 2017, Uber immediately received social media backlash after promoting decreased pricing during a political taxi strike at JFK Airport. By the time Uber responded—a whole five hours later—#DeleteUber was already trending, major news articles were live, and hundreds of thousands of customers were dropping Uber.
Through online reputation management, you can be proactive about how you respond to negative feedback to limit its short-term and long-term impact.
When you address negative reviews professionally and efficiently, you’ll find that 33% of customers will actually turn their review into a positive one with 34% deleting their original review. This shows that many consumers who share negative feedback are open to reconsideration when they receive the right business response.
When you take control of media monitoring and act quickly (and intelligently), you’ll show your dedication to consumers, even if you were in the wrong. In some cases, a great company response can make headlines, too—even if you’ve already received some negative media.
Plus, being aware of what people are saying about your company can help you immediately handle cases of truly defamatory reviews or social posts. Instead of letting these reviews simmer and damage your image over time, you’ll be able to catch them quickly and request to have them taken down.
3. Your brand stays relevant
The world is more fast-paced than ever, thanks to the internet, which means your brand can easily be forgotten by current and potential customers if you’re not keeping up with your online reputation. In fact, it usually takes 5-7 impressions before a person will remember your brand.
ORM can do more than just take control of the current conversation about your company. It can let you dominate the conversation about your entire industry. By actively inviting customers to leave reviews and generating search engine optimized content about your business, you can rank higher on Google for the keywords that matter. In turn, you’ll become one of the top leaders in your industry.
Keeping your brand relevant through ORM also plays a huge role in helping the right media contacts discover your company. Journalists are constantly scanning the web for stories their audiences want, so your ORM strategy can help you put your press releases, blog content, and product launches in front of their eyes. At the same time, a well-managed online reputation will show them you’re a trusted voice for a large audience.
As a result, your ORM efforts will help you land more positive and high-quality earned media. Paired with Agility PR’s Media Database, which helps you find the right media influencers to target, your desired image can be amplified even further.
4. Your company gains credibility
Finally, online reputation management will help you become a trusted leader within your industry. As you optimize your blog content and build strong inbound links from trusted sources, you’ll position your company as a leader by ensuring your most thoughtful content ranks across search engines. Keeping your reviews overwhelmingly positive and abundant will act as further confirmation of your leadership and expertise.
As you build your image through ORM, media outlets won’t just reach out to you for articles about you. They may also reach out to you when they need expert insight into topics you demonstrate knowledge in.
Consider this example: When an automaker recalls a car model for a recurring engine issue, a local news station may want an expert to explain what’s happening on-air. To find this expert, a journalist may Google nearby auto repair shops and reach out to the first one they see with a legitimate online presence.
As your company continues to be a leading voice in your industry and receives media recognition, you’ll get your brand in more and more earned media pieces. Members of your target audience won’t necessarily trust the same sources, so diversifying the journalists and media outlets you reach through your ORM strategies will help you become a credible voice among the masses.
Common ORM strategies to consider
Now that you understand how online reputation management can impact your PR image, you may want to consider how to commit to ORM within your own company. Here are a few strategies that businesses use, including some we’ve touched on above, to successfully build a positive reputation for the digital age:
1. Acting on reviews
Ignoring your reviews is one of the worst things you can do for your online reputation. Negative reviews, including the false ones, will maintain their credibility and continue to have an impact on your image among a mass audience.
A large part of ORM is publicly responding to negative reviews to make wrongs right, show your professionalism, and ensure any of your customer’s continued frustrations are taken to an offline conversation. ORM can also involve asking for more reviews to balance out the negative.
Of course, with over 50% of reviewers expect a response within a few days of posting, online reputation management should also involve showing your customer care by sending a public note of thanks to your positive reviewers.
2. Listening to the greater conversation
If you want a great online reputation to build your PR image, you need to know what people are saying about you in the first place. Most ORM experts are frequently tracking important keywords on search engines, hashtags on social media, and much more.
By using this strategy, you can react swiftly and generate more positive content when negative sentiment is high or when you’re fading away from the conversation.
3. Focusing on search engine optimization
More than ever, SEO is a major consideration in online reputation management. Creating the right content doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re not pushing it out effectively, so adding SEO to your ORM strategy will ensure that your content is actually seen.
This strategy may involve re-optimizing content every once in a while, so your best material can maintain its rank to get found online.
Drive your image to success
If you want to dominate the conversation in your industry and show up in a positive light, you need to focus on your online reputation management. With the majority of the public, including journalists and other media influencers, turning to the internet first for information, boosting your PR image is all about controlling your online image first.