Online Reputation Management for Politicians: What Really Matters

Brook Zimmatore | January 28, 2014

When it comes to politics, a huge portion of the debate runs on the Internet nowadays. With an alarmingly high rate of defamation and cyber libel, politicians inevitably face the dangerous side of free speech, and may want to find a way to manage their online reputation, possibly with the help of proven professionals.

Politics in the Internet Age

Most people involved in the political debate regularly share their thoughts on social networks, forums and blogs. Research says that the Internet plays a huge role in shaping the way people vote and form their opinions about political affairs. Famous Obama’s 2008 campaign is an example of how the Web helped involve millions of people in a cause. When it comes to preserving one’s online reputation, how is it possible to help a politician?

How to manage the reputation of a politician

Standard online reputation management campaigns are based on 3 levels:

  • Monitoring
  • Reaction
  • Proactive strategies

Applied to the world of politics, the factors at play are often stories and multimedia content running on newspapers, personal blogs, social networks etc.

Can you stop the attack?

Companies and individuals usually want their online image to be as “clean” as possible: no controversial content, no negative comments etc. One could think it’s the same for politicians, i.e. that a reputation management expert should try to reduce whatever type of negative content comes up. If we really think about the way the public debate works, though, we can see that there are a number of reasons why it’s impossible to treat a politician’s interests in the same fashion:

  • It’s unlikely for a reputation attack to end. As long as there are opponents, there will be attacks;
  • Political journalism is often based on “digging for dirt“: it won’t matter if it’s not on page 1, 2 or 3 of Google results;
  • Online newspapers running negative stories on a politician usually rank very well. It’s an uphill SEO battle;
  • Would it be real politics without controversy? Unlike in the world of business, negative vs. positive is what drives the debate.

The usual strategy for political reputation management is the “smothering technique”; Sheer overwhelm of media and online channels to force an image into the public eye. This has little to do with control and can be very costly.

When speed is what matters

When we accept the fact that stopping what we don’t like is near to impossible, what becomes relevant to help political body or single politician is extremely rapid intelligence and threat detection so that counter strategies can be put in early to spread the message correctly and manage the reaction to what happens online or offline. Reputation experts say timing is everything when it comes to reacting to reputation attacks. Therefore, if a politician wants to take control of what is being said and done about him or his party, what is really necessary is a system to keep track of everything in real time.

With Strixus Clearview it is possible to identify both reputation and cyber security threats with government intelligence level precision and react promptly via the appropriate channel.

CEO / Co-Founder
Brook Zimmatore is the Co-Founder & CEO at Massive.