Most entrepreneurs are smart enough to realize that unless their company projects a positive public image, no business strategy in the world will be capable of helping them achieve their goals and objectives. Reputation matters… And it matters big time.
But while many businesses pour thousands of dollars into maintaining their reputation through traditional PR initiatives, a substantially smaller portion give the same amount of attention to their reputation online. That's unfortunate, because in today's business world online reputation management is a key element of branding and customer relations.
If the idea of online reputation management is new to you, you'll probably want to consider taking advantage of an online reputation management service. Here are a few things to look for when you start your search:
- Monitoring ability. Before your online reputation management provider can counter the negative Internet publicity, they first need to be able to identify it. Look for services that provide comprehensive monitoring across a wide swath of online locations including blogs, message boards, websites, and social media sites.
- Proactive philosophy. A truly worthwhile online reputation management company presents a proactive philosophy for preventing and responding to potentially damaging online comments. If a provider comes across as being primarily reactionary, move on an interview more competent firms.
- SEO capability. A large portion of online reputation management involves the optimization of positive comments and content to counter negative PR. Since search engines are constantly changing their algorithmic formulas, you want to find an online reputation management service that stays on top of SEO.
- Strong web relationships. Internet linkages are core elements of SEO. A good reputation management company will brag about their extensive network of web relationships–and be capable of backing up their words with verifiable information.
- Reasonable expectations. Online reputation management contracts usually cover a term of either six or twelve months. Although you shouldn't expect to walk away with a top online reputation manager for $100 a month, if you're paying more than $1000-$2000 per month you're probably paying too much.