I once read that you should treat your first page of Google results as your Curzon PR business card.

But…What if someone Googles your brand and finds derogatory content? What are the keys for successful brand reputation management?

Reputation management is the practice of influencing the perception of a business or individual’s character or status. Online reputation management is doing this – digitally. Over the last decade, anonymous online reviews sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot and Glassdoor have elicited incredible reputational issues which impact business sales long term. The idea being that consumers are able to anonymously review your company without anyone knowing who they are.

Online search engine rankings and keywords can make trolling detrimental to any company. To put it bluntly; online trolling is bad for business. Negative reviews, disgruntled former employees, abusive comments and slanderous content is damaging: every company’s worst PR nightmare.

They are especially powerful as unlike social content, they are prominent in search engine results and companies can not pay to remove these negative reviews, despite being tied up in costly legal fees to force the removal of harmful material. Power has shifted from top-down businesses to bottom up proactive consumers – putting the latter in a position of authority.

The research is fascinating. Brand equity is built on brand loyalty.

Consumers trust other consumers. Reviews impact attitudes and influence behaviour more than ever before.

Research shows that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, therefore user-reviewed content is critical to managing your online brand. 85% percent of consumers are satisfied once they have read up to 10 online reviews of which 7 must be positive in order to build trust in the consumers mind and sway financial decisions. The truth is: whether it is real or perceived; we take online ratings as informed truth.

Truth and trust are the basis of any brand which seeks ethical longevity. Equity equals value and online visibility should be of substance, a positive reason to encourage brand engagement and strengthen perceived quality to drive meaningful interaction.

Managing your online brand reputation can positively impact brand equity. So, how can one achieve this?

  1. Monitor your online reputation on a regular basis – keep your eye on everything said about your brand online, across platforms and channels
  2. Take a proactive approach to negative reviews and empathetically address concerns – do not hide from or ignore these
  3. Dilute negative posts with positive content; from media coverage to self-owned content such as company blogs make your voice heard
  4. Be radically transparent about your company; encourage leadership to respond in a logical, humble manner which explains company processes
  5. Build credibility through real life authenticity. Do things that are genuinely PR worthy
  6. Conduct ongoing reviews with your current team – address your employees existing concerns and encourage them to write positive reviews
  7. Take things with a pinch of salt and understand that you can’t please everyone