Newswire branded image of a little girl making a silly face in a school. Image is being used for a blog post about reputation management.

What is Reputation Management? 3 Ways to Use it for Your Brand

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, reputation is defined as “overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general.”

Whether it’s good or bad, a reputation is powerful. For brands, in particular, their reputation is the lynchpin of success or failure. 

And, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

This quote alone encapsulates the need for companies of all sizes and industries to double down on their reputation management. 

In this blog post, we’re talking all things reputation management including:

  • What is reputation management and why is it important?
  • What is a reputation management plan?
  • 5 ways to positively manage your reputation

What is reputation management and why is it important?

Reputation management is the process of influencing and managing the public’s perception of an individual or business.  

Think about your school days. Remember, the kid that was always in trouble? They earned the reputation of being a troublemaker.

Even at your 20-year high school reunion, you’ll still remember them as the kid that was always in the principal’s office. 

This person needed reputation management to change people’s perceptions. 

In the business world, reputation management is important because it gives brands the opportunity to address and counter negative feedback from the public. 

But, it’s not all about dispelling negativity. Instead, it’s about reframing the public’s perception of the brand and building trust in the process. 

What is a Reputation Management Plan?

Think of a reputation management plan as a step-by-step guide to building and maintaining a positive reputation with your target audience. 

The foundation of your reputation management plan is monitoring and taking action. It’s all about keeping an eye on what people are saying about your brand online and addressing it head-on. 

Silence is deafening when it comes to customer feedback. That’s why it’s important to create and follow a reputation management plan. Not sure where to start?

Here are three quick tips to consider:

  1. Monitor – Scour the internet on a daily basis for any mentions of your brand online. This could be on social media or review sites, for example. It’s also good practice to set up Google Alerts for your brand. Any time your brand’s mentioned online, you’ll get an email with the mention.
  2. Assess – Are your competitors good at handling feedback? Or, do they make missteps that lead to more trouble? Whatever the case, take a look at how they respond and learn from it. Apply the lessons you’ve learned to your reputation management plan. 
  3. Assign – You get out what you put in and managing your reputation must be a top priority. Creating an internal process to monitor and handle online feedback is crucial. Determine who will:
    1. Track the feedback
    2. Create responses to comments
    3. Approve the response

Creating and maintaining a united front when responding to feedback whether it’s good or bad will make your brand look organized and professional which can positively impact the public’s perception. 

5 Ways to Positively Manage your Reputation Online

Though the internet often feels like the Wild West where anything goes, brands have more power than they think to control the narrative. 

Below are five proven ways to nurture a strong reputation. 

Earn Positive Media Coverage

Earned media is a vote of confidence. That’s because it’s publicity gained from content that a brand has not paid for or produced on its own.

So, when a company secures earned media coverage, that’s a signal to the public that the media found the story so interesting that they pursued it, developed a story around it, and published a piece for their audience to consume. 

Check out Media Types Explained Smart Start for more information!

At Newswire, the main goal of our Media Advantage Platform (MAP) is to facilitate earned media coverage for our clients. 

Last year alone, our MAP team generated over 300 earned media mentions for our Media Advantage Platform (MAP) clients in top outlets such as Allure, Bloomberg, CNET, Forbes, Fortune, Medium, MSN, NPR, The Business Journals, Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance and many more.

Respond to Reviews

As mentioned before, silence is deafening when a brand doesn’t respond to reviews. This means, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Consumers love to know their feedback is heard and brands that acknowledge and respond to reviews earn points with the people. 

But, not all responses are created equal. 

Haphazard, surface-level responses to negative feedback can send a brand down a spiral of bad press. 

While it might be equally frustrating and demoralizing to receive negative feedback, your best course of action is to address it head-on. 

To avoid situations like these, take note of these tips:

  • Personalization – Canned responses could get you canned. All joking aside, when handling a negative review add personalization to show them that you’re taking the time to respond to their feedback in a thoughtful and helpful manner. 
  • Empathy – It’s easy to get frustrated when someone takes a shot at your business. But seeing the complaint through the eyes of the consumer helps you put your guard down, show that your company has a human side and a genuine desire fix the problem. 
  • Accountability – Don’t shift blame. Owning up to your mistakes is an excellent way to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Other consumers will see you’ve taken accountability which can strengthen your credibility. Nothing frustrates consumers more than when a brand can’t admit its faults. 

If you want to learn more, check out our blog post How to Handle Negative Publicity in a Positive Manner

Encourage Reviews

Reviews are valuable for a business. 

And getting them can be as simple as asking your customers. 

But, there’s a caveat to consider. 

Before asking, make sure the customer is truly happy with their experience. 

You wouldn’t want to ask a customer who’s been experiencing some recent issues with your product or service. Doing so would likely tarnish the relationship and leave them feeling annoyed. 

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when asking for reviews:

  1. Make it easy for them by sharing direct links to your most used review site(s).
  2. Some people just aren’t writers and that’s OK. Offer to craft the review on their behalf. If you go this route, send the review to the client prior to publishing to get their approval.

Keep your Social Channels Up-to-Date

Back to our Wild West example, you don’t want tumbleweeds rolling through your social channels. 

What we mean by that is social profiles that haven’t been touched in months or even years is a bad look for brands. In fact, we think it’s better to not have a social profile on a given network than to let it languish.

Social media is part of the consumer’s research process. They’ll read your review and then they’ll head to your social channels to see what you’re posting about. 

If they land on your profile that hasn’t been updated since 2016, how do you think that’ll affect the person’s perception of your brand?

We’ll answer that for you, your brand’s credibility will take a hit.

Beyond posting, make sure the information on your profiles is up-to-date too. This includes links, product and pricing information, and About Us content, for example. 

Improve Rankings

When your reputation goes down, it’s time to push your rankings up. 

While you can’t totally suppress negative reviews, you can counteract them with positive search engine rankings. 

To do so, go back and update your high-performing blog posts, share positive reviews on your social channels, and work to generate earned media coverage. 

These suggestions are a good starting point, but the end goal is to attach your brand to positive and authoritative content to take the focus off the negative.

Maria Marchewka is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Newswire. Maria is an experienced copywriter, social media marketer, content creator, strategist, and project manager. Her firm belief in being a practitioner and not a preacher of marketing concepts has put her in a position to help companies build brand awareness and connect with their target audiences online.

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