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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Reputation rehab: When do you need help from pros?

If there is negativity attached to your brand, you need to address it quickly and take control of the narrative.

Reputation rehab: When do you need help from pros?
[blacksalmon / Adobe Stock]

Online buzz about your company, organization, or brand can wreak havoc on your livelihood overnight.

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Online reputation management refers to the ability to influence how your brand is viewed online. Your company’s online reputation is a combination of the overall image your organization projects along with others’ perception of what your brand offers. Consider if you have the bandwidth to monitor your social media channels and flag potential triggers for an online uproar. To avoid a reputation crisis, you need to get ahead of online mobs and counteract any negative narratives with immediate action.

These days, you can’t afford to take risks.

If you don’t know what is being said about your company online, it is time to find out. And if you don’t like what you find, it may be time to enlist the help of reputation repair specialists.

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REPUTATION REPAIR BASICS

If your organization is emerging from a crisis, it may be time to consider professional online reputation repair. When business is bad or things go awry, your online reputation may take a hit. Negative reviews can roll in, aggressive comments can pop up, and social posts begin to circulate.

Unfavorable search results can cause long-term damage to your brand. Keeping an eye on the big picture of your online reputation and taking immediate action is key to surviving and turning your brand’s image around.

If there is negativity attached to your brand, you need to address it quickly and take control of the narrative to avoid losing customers. If someone else tells their version of your company’s situation, you’ll have to react to their explanation of the facts. Telling your brand’s story your way will always get the best results.

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Negative media coverage can damage your company’s credibility, so it is important to hit back with positive information that will highlight the best of your brand. Professional reputation rehabilitation experts know how to create positive content that will push negative news down in search engines so favorable news about your brand is at the forefront.

MANAGING YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION

Rebuilding your brand’s online reputation requires a careful assessment to determine what has gone wrong and what needs to be done to make the situation better. Has there been a lot of negative media coverage? Is your business’s brand and leadership being harmed? Is there a slew of bad online reviews? A negative online profile can be a big turnoff to jobseekers.

Today seven out of 10 adults use social media to connect with each other, according to the Pew Research Center. That is a lot of social media users you can reach with positive content.

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Setting the record straight is important if you want to take charge of the narrative, especially because bad news can spiral out of control fast on social media. Misleading narratives can take hold quickly if they are shared too many times, so speed is essential if you want to keep your brand’s image from being permanently tarnished.

Social media alerts are a useful resource that can tip you off to new posts that mention your organization, so you know when something fresh has been posted.

REALISITC REPUTATION REHAB GOALS

A good way to recover from an online tailspin is to outline a reputation recovery road map that includes a detailed checklist of things you can do to improve your online profile.

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Online reputation management tactics include positive content creation, social media management, public relations guidance, SEO strategies to mitigate negativity, and online review management. All are pieces of a puzzle that work together to create an overarching positive online reputation that showcases your brand.

Here are six tactics to help you reach your reputation rehab goals:

1. Create and publish branded thought leadership pieces.

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2. Set up online review response procedures for your team.

3. Expand your existing evergreen blog content to further thought leadership and SEO.

4. Implement targeted public relations campaigns for media hits.

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5. Respond to negative social media comments.

6. Deploy tactical SEO efforts to suppress unfavorable search results.

Creating new content that shapes your brand favorably and highlights your organization in a positive light is key to overcoming an online reputation crisis, whether that content is on social media, in blogs, or in thought leadership opinion editorials.

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Boosting relevant, favorable content suppresses any negative content in search engines, reducing the likelihood that the bad stuff will be first to surface in a search of your brand.

Today, businesses are only as good as their online reputation, which requires continuous monitoring so you can get ahead of any problems before a negative narrative takes root.


Evan Nierman is Founder and CEO of Red Banyan, an international crisis PR agency, and author of Amazon best seller Crisis Averted.

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