Reputation Management (a/k/a Damage Control)

Start Reputation Management Before You Need It

There are systems that you should put in place before you’re in trouble . . . true damage control comes with being prepared, not trying to put out fires as they pop up. The worst instance of the need for damage control was the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf in 2010, but they made it worse with their efforts to downplay the level of contamination.  Then Tony Hayward, chief executive, visited Venice, Louisiana, to apologize for the disaster (the worst oil spill in American history) and said “no one wants this over more than I do.”  But he added the remark,

I would like my life back.

Damage control for their damage control

That faux pas actually made it to the number one spot in “the year in Briefing’ in Time magazine’s person of the year issue for 2010, along with John Tyner remarking on his “junk”, Hillary Clinton denying another run for the presidency and Pope Benedict XVI acknowledging fault in the child-sexual-abuse scandal.

Talk about bad company.

Cinéma vérité, better known in Los Angeles as Reality TV

I use both Google Alerts and StepRep for some assignments I’m working on – the most amusing are for a couple of C-List Los Angeles actresses (who shall remain nameless, less I shoot myself in the foot here) who have more bad press than good. And, who shudder every time they think a producer or casting company may ‘google’ them before making casting calls.

There are probably a dozen instances of reality tv catapulting people into prominence (and with that, a successful career in entertainment) but there are even more instances of reality tv ‘stars’ being vilified in the press.  The very nature of reality tv, to show the viewers how absurdly the reality personality lives, encourages the very worst press coverage.  Actors who think they will use reality tv as the path to fame and fortune seldom realize that path is wrought with peril – particularly if they really do live the drunken debauchery they portray in their particular reality series.  When the reality tv ride comes to an end, and they don’t have, and can’t get, a decent gig, all that ‘hot’ press they got for their last job may not be the answer to moving to A-List (or even B-List) status.

Get Rid of the sleaze or Replace it with some Sparkle

Unfortunately, getting rid of the avalanche of bad publicity is never an easy task, however, in this day and age of blogs and social media it is possible to actually push the trash to back pages by simply overwhelming the media with better info.  A blog that is indexed by Google will, in pretty short order, have every page listed at the top of search results.  Ditto with Facebook and Twitter: they are indexed almost immediately, and a search for an actor or actress will bring up the fresh content first, moving the bad PR to page 2 or 3.

There is such a thing as “bad publicity”

It is simply a matter of getting an organized view of the trash talk and working the tools to get ahead of it.  Way ahead.  We can do that.

Damage Control Tools

There are several methods of keeping up with what is being said about you or your brand that are better than taking the time to ‘google’ yourself or your company. Google Alerts is a great tool, but can be overwhelming if you aren’t precise in your settings. Google tells you you can monitor the web for “interesting new content” but the people I know use it to monitor it for interesting new content relevant to them.

Google Alerts suggests

  • monitoring a developing news story
  • keeping current on a competitor or industry
  • getting the latest on a celebrity or event
  • keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams

Designing your Google Alerts

Once you’ve set up an account to get Google Alerts, enter your topic, and choose the level of results you want to receive:

  • Choose from news, blogs, realtime, video, or everything
  • Choose to get the results as it happens, every day, every week
  • And then it is the volume you are willing to receive. Your choices are All and only the best

StepRep: reputation intelligence for small business

An alternative to Google Alerts, is StepRep, who advertises as “reputation intelligence for small business.” I use StepRep as a supplement to Google Alerts.  StepRep gives you all the data that Google Alerts does, and gives you the opportunity to go through their findings and mark your personal content along with things that are not relevant to you or your search.

I was dismayed to find the number of people named Traci Gregory on the internet. Not that it seems such an unusual name, but I had to go through a lot of data that was irrelevant to get to the instances of my Traci Gregory.

Start Now, Before You Need It

Set up your alerts on either service (or both) and think of all the worst phrases you would hate to see in connection with your brand.  Think also of what you’re going to do on your blog and your website if worst comes to worst and you’re fighting some really bad press.  You can’t catch it all, and you certainly can’t contain it if you haven’t got a plan.

But you can call me; or send me an email: traci@tracigregory.com

 

Related Articles in this Series: Reputation Management Part 2: Who is talking about you in Social Media?

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Former Pres. George W. Bush, and brother Jeb

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From Blog to Book . . . to Movie!

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