Online Crisis

There are many benefits associated with the Internet. We are able to disseminate information to millions of potential customers from around the world at breakneck speeds. Strategic marketing capabilities have been dramatically enhanced while the modern digital platform has provided even smaller firms with the ability to target a truly global audience. However, things can and will go awry from time to time. How can we successfully manage an online crisis such as a negative press release or a failed product? This can actually be a bit tougher than it appears, so it is a good idea to take a look at some sure-fire solutions.

 

The Proactive Stance


One of the most important concepts to appreciate is proactivity. Always be prepared for unexpected circumstances that may arise. One example can be seen in the recent Emirates Airline fire. Companies which have a crisis management plan ready well in advance will be able to avoid confusion and stumbling blocks once bad news hits the digital airwaves. So, they can respond much quicker and avoid any confusion that often results (with potentially negative consequences) from late-breaking news.

Problem:

CEO Proactiveness:

Transparency


One of the ways in which a company can severely damage its reputation is by not providing the correct information when it becomes available. An unfortunate illustration of this (again in reference to aviation) can be seen in the rather poor PR campaign undertaken by Malaysian Airlines immediately following the MH370 incident. Not only was the press confused, but relatives were extremely upset with the lack of reliability that the company was displaying. The end result was a damaging loss of credibility. Transparency is key to avoiding such circumstances. Some steps that should always be taken include:

 

  • Providing CONFIRMED information as soon as it becomes available.
  • Promising to publish future updates in a timely fashion.
  • Offering a means for press to contact the company in the event of future inquiries.

 

All of these actions will help to avert speculation while keeping those involved informed at all times.

 

Monitoring and Responsivity


There is no doubt that engaging with clients and the general public is essential during any public relations campaign. So, why would this principle be any different in the event of a crisis? Some firms have the habit of “shrinking” away from accusations or bad press for fear of further inflaming the situation. This approach will inevitably do more harm than good.

 

Monitor all of the most important social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, for example). Although it is not necessary to reply to every comment, addressing issues which draw a considerable amount of attention is vital to stem the flow of negative media attention. Also, this will show clients that representatives of the company truly care about their image.

 

Logo and Brand Image


There can be times when temporarily modifying a logo or image can silently display to the public that the firm appreciates recent negative events. Think of how the logos of many American new channels incorporated the flag immediately after the attacks of September 11th. This displays solidarity with the public and illustrates empathy; both crucial in terms of public opinion.

 

These are some of the best ways to mitigate the effects of bad press from both short- and long-term perspectives. In the age of digital media, there is simply no room to adopt a “watch-and-wait” approach. Inaction could have grave consequences to even the most respected of firms. By adopting such a proactive stance, a negative incident could very well evolve into an ultimately positive outcome.

 

About Author:

Tim Aldiss writes for Four Broadgate.

Bad PR

 

“There is no such thing as bad publicity.”


 

Yes there is—of course there is. Online, bad publicity can drive traffic, but it also means the first interaction people will have with you or your brand is in the context of anger, offense, or indignation.

When you put your focus on being snarky, witty, cutting edge, current, or otherwise overreaching your role, you run the risk of alienating your target audience in the hopes of achieving broader engagement. That is the wrong way to leverage social media, and a terrible way to build your brand.

Joining the internet peanut gallery through your content and social networking is a great way to shoot yourself—or your company—in the foot. Even a lack of research into trending hashtags and topics can turn your attempt to be relevant into a storm of damage-control; not the best use of your time and energy, much less your marketing resources.

The best way to mitigate the risk of a marketing misstep is to preempt that kind of engagement entirely. It is challenging enough to keep ahead of the curve in terms of relevant, useful, original content that is actually valuable to people.

Just like the age-old advice to parents, you can’t be your kids’ friend, and an authority: you need to pick a role and stick with it. And kids need a parent more than a friend. That is why in plotting and executing your social media strategy, you might fare better if you stick to value-added posts (informative) rather than aiming to be a comedian.

 

That doesn’t mean you should shed your personality.


 

You can try to adopt a casual, accessible persona for your brand online and in social media—but never forget that ultimately, you are there to provide value and interaction on behalf of that brand, not put it out on a limb by offering unsolicited commentary, boundary-pushing humor, or irrelevant attempts at wit and candor.

Information is value; personality helps make that information less dry and more palatable. If you manage to tweet a good one-liner or snappy rejoinder, it may get some positive response, but the lasting impact can never match the power of something informative. People can use that, and are more likely to pass it along.

If you feel your comic skills are just too great to be contained, just bear in mind that too much comedy relies on a victim. Rather than trying to pick a safe target, keep deprecating comments focused on yourself, not outward.

Opinions can easily devolve into insults; always aspire to provide commentary that is affirmative (i.e., “our experience has been that the best results come from…”) rather than negative (i.e., “We think it would be stupid to…” or “Other people wrongly believe…”)

Don’t inject yourself into places or conversations you don’t naturally gravitate towards. There is always breaking news, a latest scandal, or some polarizing figure chewing up the cycle of online discourse. Weighing in simply to scoop up some of the associated traffic will nearly always cost you more in terms of reputation than it will yield in terms of traffic and positive attention.

Whatever your brand, there is an audience and a market for that—find it, and concentrate on serving its members. It is easy to get caught up in following the crowd with the highest population, but you (and your audience/customers) will both be better served if you stay focused and relevant.

 

DIY Public Relations

 

The art and science of public relations can be tough to master, which is why so many companies turn to well-established PR agencies to help them get in the game. But having the budget to engage an agency is not always available to small businesses. This luxury may come down the road, but if your budget won’t allow it in the near-term, there are still steps you can take on your own to get some PR benefit. Here’s a look at two ways to handle the media outreach part of PR for your small business.

 

Start With Identification


 

Start by asking yourself why you want coverage. If you’re packaging something as news, make sure it really is something newsworthy. Some items that qualify include details around funding, important hires, awards and recognition or a new product release. A new company website that better enables you to serve your clients and customers counts, too; look at what Apple Rubber posted about its redesigned website. If you just want a reporter to know about your company without something substantive, save everyone some time and wait to approach reporters when you have something meaningful to say.

 

Once you know what your news is, think about which reporters would care. For example, if it’s a funding announcement, seek out business and financial reporters. If it’s a product announcement for parenting-related software, research the journalists who regularly write about tech or parenting. The best way to search for these individuals (assuming you don’t have access to a costly media database) is organically through a search engine like Google. For the software example above, try search terms like “parenting” and “software,” along with the name of the state in which you live. Know your industry, and familiarize yourself with the journalists and publications who tend to cover your industry’s news, along with news about your competitors.

 

Keep It Short and Sweet


 

Most journalists are slammed with emails day in and day out. In order to make yours stand out, aim for brevity. Take a look at HubSpot’s free press release template and sample in order to get a feel for the key components that should be included in your press release. Then write a corresponding email to go with it. Your press release should link back to your website at least once within the copy, so be sure you also write a blog post about the news you’re sharing so reporters can quickly find more information on the topic.

 

Craft an email, and include the press release both as an attachment, as well as pasted into the body of the email since many journalists don’t like to have to open attachments. Be quick and to the point, letting the reporter know why you think their readers would care about this news, what the news is, and who they can contact for more information. Be prepared with supporting images, quotes from the company’s leadership team, and additional information that a reporter may request to supplement a potential article.

 

If you want to send your press release out over the wire, there are plenty of distribution services to choose from. Some common favorites are Marketwired, PR Newswire, and Business Wire.

 

When it comes to your PR, you can achieve significant success through your own DIY methods. Just be sure to properly identify the media contacts you reach out to, and make brevity the name of the game. Journalists will appreciate the research you’ve put in and your consideration of their time, and you may find them quite a bit more willing to write about your company.

Reputation Management Tips

 

A big part of establishing and maintaining the online reputation for your business or brand has to do with developing content online. That content must be creative, diverse, and represent your company and brand well. Many companies and organizations may not realize that establishing an online reputation is about creating content and building out social channels and websites online. It is about controlling the conversation online and telling consumers that are searching for information online about what your company is all about. Your company is the expert about itself, so you are the best entity to tell your story. Let everyone know what you do, what you are up to, and establish your credibility and reliability with creative content online.

 

Building Your Story


 

When it comes to building an online portfolio all about your company, organization, or brand, you want that portfolio of websites and social channels to accurately represent what you are about. Think of this as telling your story. The tone and writing style should reflect your company’s culture. Can someone reading about your company online get a sense of what you do, what you sell, or the services you offer? Are your employees and management introduced and spotlighted? Can they understand your company culture? All of these questions should be answered and fully explained in your online portfolio, which builds your organization’s reputation online.

 

The more content you create to show your company in a positive light, the less effect one or two negative postings from disgruntled customers will have.  This is the basis for good reputation management. It is preventing problems from occurring and protecting your brand from would-be attacks on your reputation.

 

What Types of Creative Content?


 

The types of creative content will certainly also depend on your company culture and what you do. Regardless, though, it should still be a mixed media of creativity that shows off your company and what you do. In addition to writing and textual information, there should be plenty of imagery: photos of your headquarters, photos of employees, an image gallery in the “About Us” section can tell so much about your company. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. It can show your staff in suits and in impressive business roundtable meetings, or highlight the casual coffee house atmosphere of your office.

 

No matter what your style is, this should come through in the photographs you use. In addition to pictures, there should be other graphic representations, which can be graphs and charts to show your company’s success, infographics, and graphic timeline of important events or dates in history for your company.  Video is another excellent way to creatively build on your company’s reputation online by telling stories about your company or about what your company does.

 

Some other forms of content to consider:

 

  • Online PR
  • Document sharing
  • Company videos
  • Business profiles
  • Case Studies
  • eBooks

Creative Social Interactions


 

A big part of your company’s online reputations management takes place in social media channels. Your presence in social media helps to steer the conversation and allows you to engage and respond in real time. If you think that avoiding social channels will reduce or eliminate reputation management problems, think again. The truth is quite the opposite in fact, because consumers will be online talking about their experience with your company whether you are there to listen and react or not. So, you may as well come to grips with the fact that being there is half the battle and no matter what type of company you are, a social presence is very necessary. Today’s consumer wants to be able to see that you are real and that they can engage with you on social channels, if they chose.

 

Many consumers will feel more comfortable about doing business with a company or brand if they have a social channel, even if they never “like” or engage with that brand on those channels at all. Many companies stay away from social for fear they are inviting negative comments or complaints. Of course, the first step against that is delivering excellent customer experiences. Even still, we all know that you cannot please all people ,all the time. However, those few disgruntled customers complaining on social channels can snow ball into a larger problem if you are not already established and prepared with your arsenal of good and creative content across multiple channels. All of the pictures, graphics, video, and textual content builds up more positive than negative.

 

Conclusion and Takeaways


 

Hopefully you take away from this article that your online presence should not be boring. Mix it up with text, images, video, and pictures. The mix in media will help show the personality of your business, even if that is a very professional corporate environment. Use some creativeness to show the public and your potential customers what your company is about. When it comes to social, having a presence not only allows you to monitor and respond to consumer engagement there in real time, but it allows you to represent your company in creative ways and show a personality – even if that personality is a corporate professional that you would not imagine uses social channels. Having that social presence can help instill confidence in consumers and increase sales.

 

About author

Bio: Elizabeth Victor is blogger for Isentia. She enjoys sharing social media and branding tips for all sized companies. She also enjoys sharing tips on PR monitoring and management.

Reputation Management

Businesses once used to control all the public information related to their business, but now everything goes viral with several kinds of social media platforms.

  • With a scattered online population keeping an eye on business information, formulating proper Team ORM strategies, monitoring the online tones regularly, keeping a tab on issues and taking instant actions is the key to enjoying a good online reputation.
  • By the time you finish reading the article, you will have a well-constructed plan to develop a brand defense mechanism for building and maintaining a business’ online reputation professionally.

While we shed light on developing a brand defense system for a website, Twitter, one of the leading social networking platform, is in its final phase of launching its IPO for borrowing the required amount of capital from the international market. However, a question that daunts almost every person online is ‘what turns such an online venture into a powerful and reliable investment avenue for the global market’. It is the online reputation of an organization that helps in making it a well-established and trustworthy brand in the market. For such service providers, the online reputation is all that matters when it comes to building a brand value in the global market. However, gaining a consistent position and value in a market full of competition is difficult and, thus, requires the implementation of a proper online reputation management strategy.

The days when businesses used to enjoy complete control over the information pertaining to their products and services are long gone. With people present all over various social media platforms, forums, rating websites and blogs, there is no dearth of methods available for interacting with the online businesses and related information. There might be differences in the nature of interaction, but what stands without any variations is the risk that a website poses from the rapid promotion of businesses in the current dynamic, hasty and ever-changing virtual environment.

For enjoying and maintaining a better reputation in the virtual market, websites need to conduct certain alteration checks regularly through several proven methods.

ORM Team Strategy

The businesses who take their online reputation casually are certainly pushing their internet marketing process in the mud. Setting up a core-team of professionals for dealing with all the kinds of responses online is the ideal step in this direction and the only legible way of constructing a winning script. Social networks are very difficult to handle with ease and, thus, should be handled by a team of trained individuals for replying to the comments and mentions for eliminating the negative pitch and building a positive image online.

Regularly Monitoring the Online Tones

For businesses that are an integral part of the online fraternity, being prepared for dealing with the conversations related to business products and services round the clock is an ideal strategy. While managing the conversations, the overall tone of the conversation is most important. It might be easy to respond to nice comments and mentions with a smile; however, inverse communications needs special care. There are several free-of-cost as well as premium tools available online that help in monitoring the positive as well as negative comments across the platform. All it requires is subscribing to them and creating a proper timeline or schedule regarding how and when to monitor the mentions in a positive tone.

Keeping a Track of Issues

The customers are essentially the best observers of the products and services offered by a business. They might have a satisfactory or a disappointing experience when using the stated products and services and it becomes the responsibility of the businesses to listen to their issues carefully. Hearing their complaints isn’t enough if immediate actions are not taken to fix the issues. Listening to the brand ambassadors regarding the products and services of a business and stepping in to improve the overall experience is essential for maintaining a long term reputation.

Every Action Counts

Quick action is one of the most important steps that online ventures need to take when considering expanding their business through Social Media Platforms . Perfect timing and sheer professionalism are the two prime factors that play a huge role in the process of online reputation management of a business. If customers share their negative experiences with the products and services, it is the duty of the business to deal with them on a priority basis with full professionalism. Any delay in action might make the negative comments viral, thereby creating serious trouble for the business. Thus, it is wise to kick the ball backwards and avoid it from reaching the goal post.

Every strategy outlined above points towards the importance of quick response and instant rebuttal against any kind of concerns escalated by the consumers. A perfectly strategized online reputation management system is vital for fixing the issues prevailing at every level with precision and professionalism. All it requires is following proper strategies and executing them with complete responsibility and effectiveness to maintain the online reputation of a venture.

About author

Arjunsinh Chandravat is a founder of India based internet marketing company – Green Apple Marketing Solutions. He’s also a web developer/designer, online marketer who specializes in WordPress, Social Media Promotion & Local Marketing. If you’d like to connect with him, email him – arjun@greenapplemarketingsolutions or tweet @arjunsinh2187

Online Reputation Tips

When it comes to your personal reputation or the reputation of your business one tarnished mark online could leave you scarred for a very long time. There are many methods you can take online to prevent any negative press that you might have either proactively or re-actively.

The great folks at InventHelp put this infographic together to showcase some of the different elements that go into a positive reputation.

Protect Your Online Reputation

If you are not sure what it means to be on the cloud well you are sitting on it as you read this. The cloud is really the ability to provide anything web based for others to use or collaborate on. As we make the shift from desktop applications and programs to everything being web based we are all leaving the security of our computer and giving all the wonderful people of the world the potential to see what you do online and what people have to say about you.

Years ago before the popularity of the internet you might have a negative article in a newspaper or magazine but once the new issue came out most people forgot about it. Not on the web. Reputation kind of went out the window when we all started posting every little thing we like and do online. Everybody seems to know everything about everyone now and I don’t think this is going to slow down a bit. As a business you really have to watch what you do and say online because almost nothing ever gets removed once it has been published by someone else. The web cloud has allowed us all to be connected 100% of our time and depending on who you are that could be a great thing, or it could be disastrous. The days of angry clients and disgruntled ex-employees just going away are no longer around. The cloud has given anyone that might usually be quite a platform for a voice that can be heard across the world and all it takes a few minutes on a couple of websites and your business can be in for some pain.

Depending on how bad a situation can be cleaning up your image online can take a great deal of time or it can be quick. Either way it takes some effort to make things right again. The great thing about a business trying to make their mark on the cloud is that you also have the opportunity to put up a nice barrier before it happens. This doesn’t mean that you are necessarily anticipating any negative information finding its way into the search results about you it just means that in case it should happen you can build a wall or buffer to soften the blow a bit.

Some things you can do to build a barrier for yourself online:

  • Launch many business profiles
  • Launch PR surrounding your business name
  • Launch all social networking profiles
  • Use social networking profiles daily
  • Release company videos on all video sharing sites using your company name often in titles & descriptions
  • Write strategic quality articles
  • Launch a blog on your website and actually write in it

These are just some of the ways you can get started. Remember that this could also kill two birds with one stone if you do it right. Most of these areas have some sort of possibility for link placement so don’t forget to drop a link into anything you do online.

With the way the internet is shaping up it will be more important than ever to really focus on creating a brand in the online space. The internet has allowed those who were once quite to now be very vocal and if you piss someone off there are plenty of spaces to kick and scream. There are plenty of blog posts out there revolving around good reputation management techniques but until you find yourself knee deep in horse…well you know, you truly won’t understand how important it really is to have a squeaky clean image online.

Here are some tips you should consider with reputation management for your business:

Start Early

Don’t wait for things to go sour in the search engines to start cleaning up your image. No company ever thinks that they will get a nasty comment from a customer or client but it happens. Whether you are starting a new business or have an aged establishment you should be marketing your business online now in order to fill up the search results with efforts surrounding your business name. This will create a nice buffer area between you and any negative press that could find it’s way into the search results.

Don’t Panic

When you find yourself in a situation where someone has slandered you online it is best to not panic and go on a rant. Try to remember the situation where the complaint stems around and see what you can do to fix the problem rather than trying to retaliate and fight back. Often times you can reach out to the angry customer and if you fix the problem they often have the ability to take down the negative listing. As a business owner you have to bite your tongue and try otherwise you could be spending a great deal of money trying to fix the negative listing down the road.

Make A Plan

If trying to reason with the disgruntled client or past customer doesn’t pan out how it should put together a well structured plan of attack. Examine the situation and put together a strategy of efforts that you plan on executing over the next 6 or 12 months to combat the negative press that has found it’s way into the search results under your company name.

In-House or Professional?

If you don’t have any access or knowledge on the internet space hire a professional. The last thing you want is to be fiddling around for months not really making any sort of impact on the situation. If you are not sure how to handle a situation like this please consult a professional to at least guide you through the process and put together a well structured plan of attack for you.

Fighting reputation management issues right when they happen will be very important. You don’t want that negative press to get age and settle into it’s location. Keep it moving right from the beginning of it’s life cylce otherwise it will take double the force down the road to make it happen.