Being in an executive management position of a business, your reputation is everything. That has always been true to some extent, but the value of branding and reputation has grown enormously in recent years.
The vast amount of information available online, coupled with the extensive reach of social media, has created a whole new landscape for business owners. Even if you do everything right and treat your customers fairly, a single negative review could destroy the reputation you have worked so hard to create.
Study: 97% Of Business Owners Say Online Reputation Management Is Important – Forbes
Whether you like it or not, the way your business looks online matters a great deal. Even if the negative information posted online is exaggerated, or downright false, viewers may not know that. Too many would-be customers, the information they see is true, and if they do not like what they see your business will surely suffer.
Reputation management firms are nothing new, but the way they do business has changed enormously in the age of the internet. Before the internet came along, these firms were often engaged in public relations, shaping customer perceptions, dealing with negative news, and helping to build solid brands.
That public relations aspect is still there, but the role of reputation management companies has expanded to include the online world. Reputation management companies monitor what is being said about their clients, and they stand ready to combat false information and set the record straight.
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If you are thinking about hiring a reputation management company for your business, it is important to know what these firms can do, but it is just as critical to understand their limitations. These firms can be extremely valuable, especially if your online reputation has taken a hit, but they are not miracle workers.
It is easy to post online, and that is both a good and a bad thing for business owners. The ease of posting online allows customers to engage with the companies they buy from and the brands they respect. Fans of a particular brand can talk about their purchases, provide instant feedback, and engage with decision makers, sometimes in real time.
On the other hand, the ease of online communication makes it easy for disgruntled employees, dissatisfied customers, and anyone else with a grudge to post false and defamatory information. From running down the products the company makes to posting derogatory information about its founders and employees, these false online posts can take a real toll on the businesses involved.
Reputation management companies specialize in finding and addressing this false and misleading information. Through a variety of channels, these companies work to have erroneous information removed.
Sometimes reputation managers work behind the scenes, contacting social media companies and internet service providers. In other cases, they engage directly through online channels, reaching out on social media, rebutting false claims and giving viewers a more complete picture.
No matter how they do their jobs, reputation management companies can make a huge difference for their clients. By providing a solid defense against false, misleading, and potentially defamatory online information, reputation management firms can rebuild damaged brands, shape public perception, and help their clients succeed online and off.
Reputation management companies provide a valuable service for modern businesses, but there are some things they cannot do. While reputation management firms can often eliminate false and derogatory information, their options when combating legitimate negative information is somewhat limited.
Many savvy companies are starting to realize that a good name can be their most important asset and actually boost the stock price – Bloomberg
These firms can, for instance, ask customers to remove negative reviews, but they may not be able to force their hand. Engaging with a reputation management company is not a substitute for quality customer service and extensive online engagement, If you want to succeed for the long term, you need to take negative reviews seriously, seeing them as opportunities instead of threats to your business.
When you run your own business, you need to safeguard your reputation. How others view you and your firm could be the key to your success, and you need to take public perception very seriously. Hiring a reputation management firm can help you maintain your brand and combat false information, but it is important to recognize the limitations of these firms and work within their parameters.