Online Reputation Management: The Dark Side, Learning from Mistakes and Tips for Success
Forbes / Massive PR / CloudSpark / Social Media Today
Beware of the dark side of reputation management, where extortionists find damaging photos of company employees, release them publicly and then charge that company a fee for its removal.
Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit
The alarms about online reputation management go beyond issues involving negative reviews. The Dark Side of Reputation Management: How It Affects Your Business
warns PR pros of reputation management extortionists who dig into company histories, release photos of employee mugshots and offer to remove the information for a fee. The article interviews Richart Ruddie, CEO of ProfileDefenders.com, who suggests companies affected by a "mugshot extortionist" thwart the attempts by creating positive images of the employees on image galleries that will naturally push down the negative photos. Then, seek appropriate legal counsel if necessary. More proactively, it's best to check out job candidates online before hiring.
In similar situations, some companies have turned to Google's Blackhat SEO, a tool that allows webmasters to control spam and wrongfully negative comments that link to their sites by "disavowing" the link. However, because of abuse of the tool, Google announced Blackhat SEO will be inactivated by this summer, as reported in Blackhat Online Reputation Management: Is It Effective?
Websites will now have to rely on an old-fashioned "by-the-book" reputation management strategy. Online Reputation Management: How Not to Tank Your Business by Ignoring the Digital World
gathers tips for a solid online reputation management strategy, including types of social media responses to avoid. Some of the online PR responses are cringe-worthy, but Jenny-Rebecca Schmitt insists there are ways to avoid them: always prepare for worst-case scenarios, and then incorporate her 10-point plan into your online reputation management strategy. Important: Go beyond "Monitoring 101" with a service that can track blogs, forums and social media discussions. Then, incorporate your monitoring reports into marketing decisions on a regular basis.
Schmitt doesn't include a recent worst-case social media disaster, the Facebook meltdown of two Arizona bakery owners
who were both featured on the TV show Kitchen Nightmares. After receiving negative online comments about their TV appearance, the couple used rude and insulting comments in social media to lash out at followers. The first step in recovery would be "to put your hands up and say sorry," Mike McGrail notes in Can You Recover from an Amy's Bakery-Style Social Media Meltdown?
Social media has certainly undermined an age-old precept: "No press is bad press." Not.
Journalists Need to View the PR Perspective
The Canadian Journalism Project
PR pros invest copious time studying what journalists do and how they think, while journalists have little understanding of how PR works. Many journalists perceive PR practitioners as disloyal "masters of spin." Deeper study of PR practices and earned media among journalism students would help to rectify that misimpression, contends Ira Basen, a professor with a 30-year career in journalism. In Why All Journalists Should Study Public Relations
, Basen states that journalists need a more reality-based look at the relationship between PR and the press — if only because many journalism majors will end up working in PR. Bottom line: A stronger relationship based on mutual understanding will benefit PR, journalism and the public.
LARa: The PR Strategy Secret — Listen, Analyze, Relate and Act
Why are some PR efforts destined for failure? The culprit is often lack of strategy, Brian Pittman asserts in LARA Is Not Your Intern: It's a Successful Online PR Strategy
. A solid strategy is one that boils down to LARA (Listening, Analyzing, Relating and Acting). Pittman explains each step in detail: Listening is more than reading your media mentions — it requires social tracking and profiling tools to understand how customers are behaving and what they are saying. If your PR strategy is hitting some bumps, it may be worthwhile to find how to integrate the remaining steps.
Building the Perfect Measurement System
Bulldog Reporter / K.D. Paine / PRSA ComPRehension
One of the key recommendations of the Barcelona principles discourages reporting quantitative data without an accompanying qualitative analysis, Jim Sinkinson addresses in PR Measurement: The Painful, Costly Disconnect between Best Intentions and Best Practices
. Instead of concentrating on media outcomes (clip count, media impressions, etc.), PR pros should center on business outcomes that truly explain the value of your PR efforts. Ignoring business outcomes causes disconnects between data that PR pros offer and the assessments that C-level executives want. As Sinkinson observes, the better you become at measuring business outcomes caused by PR, the more effective you'll be at generating those outcomes.
Angela Jeffrey distinguishes between the two outcome types in PRSA's Confused about How to Tie PR Outputs to Organization Outcomes?
Outputs are metrics such as clip counts or impressions, she explains, while business or organization outcomes include leads, sales, donations, and/or survey scores. The answer is to consider employing the AMEC Valid Metrics Guidelines
. The AMEC framework provides a comprehensive template for selecting measurements that match organizational goals.
For analysis of an advanced measurement system, review K.D. Paine's presentation to Develop Key Performance Indicators Tied to Original Goals
. The in-depth slides explain how to define your goals, audience, investments and benchmarks, and then how to choose the metrics that will indicate your progress. Step 6 is especially helpful on measurement tools: content analysis measures messaging, positioning and analysis; survey research measures awareness and relationships; web analytics measures engagement, action and purchase.
Pitching Strategies That Win Over Bloggers and Journalists
In How to Pitch a Blogger
, David Meerman Scott urges PR pros to go the extra mile to distinguish their pitches above all the hundreds of spam emails that bloggers receive every week. Scott's suggestions are short and to the point (like your pitch should be, he writes). First, read the blog to discover the blogger's passion and send something that targets the blogger's interests. Always personalize; never open with "Dear Blogger," he urges, and assure your subject line is specific. Reminder: Links are okay, email attachments are not.
Sell Dreams, Not Services in Presentations and Pitches
Whether you're selling ideas or products, 10 Presentation Tactics for Ad Agency New Business
examines critical techniques to differentiate your advertising or PR agency during a new business pitch. Steve Jobs' winning presentation techniques propose "selling dreams, not services," as Readers Digest phrases it. Rather than focusing on the product, target your pitch around its benefits to your audience. Another technique: Create a "villain," whether a problem or competitor, that allows decision-makers to rally around the hero (your creative ideas and services).
The New Rules for Media Relations
The amount of news and information available to PR pros will increase exponentially as more brands invest in journalists and content creators, Keith Beech explains in It's Time to Embrace the New Rules for Media Relations
. The new rules of media relations start with more media engagement and personalized pitches to journalists. PR pros need to dig deeper and follow the news in order to construct comparisons and establish your topic's relevancy, Beech adds. Another major change: Global coverage is becoming more valuable as news travels faster and farther, so PR pros now have the opportunity to place international coverage on their agendas.
The Chocolate Press Release and Other PR Ideas Worth Trying
Sword and the Script
There's nothing wrong with experimenting on your PR and marketing campaigns, as Frank Strong shares in 7 Sexy and Creative PR Ideas
. Self-deprecating humor can be charming, and TechCrunch recently proved it can be effective in PR with its reference to a post
on humor website The Onion
. Another great idea proved worthy when marketing agency The Corner Shop wrote a press release announcing the release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on a USB stick shaped like a chocolate bar. Dressing up press releases, whether via chocolate or interesting multimedia, can work as long as the pitch still contains a strong news angle.
How to Determine Which Metrics Deliver Social Media ROI
As the infographic The ROI of Social Media: How Do You Measure Up?
explains, most social media metrics produce intangible benefits: site traffic, conversion and the number of positive customer mentions, among them. As one consequence, determining social media ROI can be difficult. Even though it's tough to trace revenue or cost-savings directly to social media, it is possible to track and value the ROI intangibles in social media marketing. It's also possible to compare the value of various social media platforms to determine where best to focus your social media efforts. Measuring against specific business goals remains the key to determining social media ROI. At this point, Facebook seems to deliver the best return according to a survey of CMOs
Social media marketing for B2B companies can get even trickier, Sherry Lamoreaux concedes in Mission Impossible? Measuring B2B Social Media ROI
. Core metrics of performance should be grounded in corporate values, Lamoreaux insists, in four categories: distribution, interaction, influence and action. If your company values sales, monitor social channels for new opportunities and leads; if it's influence you value, measure your reach, Klout and search engine results.
According to Mark Schaefer in A Different Way to Think About Social Media ROI
, there is no one-size-fits-all or even best-practice social media strategy. Companies therefore should be on a program of continual improvement, guided by refining the social media metrics used to measure success. Like the sales process, social media interaction consists of a series of "touches," often over extended periods of time, all or which affect the outcome. The measurement matrix must recognize that reality of long-term connections. Key strategy: Qualitative measurement, which Schaefer asserts can reveal the most loyal relationships and tangible benefits.
Boosting Your Content Marketing Strategy
Jeff Bullas / MarketingProfs
Limiting your content marketing strategy to online is a result of the common misconception that content marketing is only digital, Jeff Bullas advises in 12 Common Misconceptions about Content Marketing
. Content marketing, however, was around long before the Internet, surviving through conferences, seminars, industry papers and magazines. The ideal strategy is one that integrates digital and traditional channels. If you're not sure where or how to get started with creating content, Jason Miller reveals The Frugal Content Marketer's Secret Weapon: Fiverr
. The website provides listings for helpful (albeit, some unusual) services, all for a fixed rate of $5 each. It's no "saving grace" for marketing campaigns, Miller admits, but it can be a great approach to change your voice and provide interesting multimedia. Among the listings: An offer to write "a sweet ukulele song" for a business ad.
Optimizing Content Important to Content Marketing Success
As content marketing's success grows, so does the competition to make content stand out. In 11 Examples of Killer B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Including ROI
, Lee Odden lists successful content marketing programs highlighted in the Killer Content Marketing Awards, each complete with an explanation of the brand's goals and thought processes in creating the content. While the campaigns worked to socialize, advertise and publicize the content, few focused on optimizing it for search, Odden points out. Key takeaway: Brands need to optimize their content assets, including images, infographics, video, PDFs, etc., so that they are visible with buyer-centric keywords.
Effective Networking via LinkedIn Groups
Social Media Examiner
LinkedIn groups can help grow your brand or business; the trick is to find well-managed groups with discussions and members relevant to your industry. In How to Network Using LinkedIn Groups
, Stephanie Sammons recommends evaluating the statistics to learn about the group's member demographics, activity and how long the group has been active. Note: The group's number of members and its activity level don't always correlate with its quality. Another tip: Consider joining corporate-sponsored groups, which partner with LinkedIn and tend to have more in-depth discussions, rich dialogue and less spam.
Guy Kawasaki's Social Media Secrets
Though Guy Kawasaki is among the leading influencers on social media, his online practices defy most recommendations of social media experts. Instead of manually posting content, Kawasaki relies on automated, scheduled posts that are repeated four times, eight hours apart. As Kawasaki rationalizes, "Why get 600 page views when you can get 2,400?" Further, Kawasaki employs ghostwriters to post on Google+, Pinterest and Facebook, sometimes acting as Kawasaki (another social media no-no). Kawasaki explains more of his successful (and some, strange) methods in How Marketing Legend Guy Kawasaki Manages His Social Media Presence
. Bottom line: If you have a successful marketing strategy, can produce and share interesting ideas and a large amount of content, you may not have to conform to the norm.
Using Social Media Command Centers to Monitor and Measure
How Cisco Listens in Social
exemplifies a new corporate focus on centralizing social media strategy. Through Cisco's three physical social media listening centers, the company assures that social data reach top decision-makers. The networking giant is a model for companies looking for social media ROI across the board. Cisco has so far used the social data to generate leads and gauge audience reactions to ad campaigns. Another example of centralized social success: Mastercard, which implemented a collaborative social media plan. A look Inside Mastercard's Social Command Center
shows a focus on social media monitoring to improve customer service, pull in press coverage and identify key journalists writing stories about the company.
Writing Customer Success Stories that Convert
Satisfied customers are a company's best advocates and customer success stories can have powerful influence on prospects. According to Tatiana Liubarets' 25 Success Tips for Writing Irresistible Customer Success Stories
, the perfect case study is formatted for skimming. Section titles and sub headers in a Challenge-Solution-Result story format make for a quick read, Liubarets explains. The story should address how that customer saved money and/or time, use real images of the customer and establish a "buyer readiness" factor about the customer's decision to purchase from your company and not your competitor. In distributing the customer case study via social media, Liubarets recommends inserting customer quotes along with the link to the case study.
Doing What You Love (and Loving What You Do)
As modern philosopher Alain de Botton preached, "One of the most interesting things about success is that we think we know what it means." Maria Popova brings together Botton's inspirational thoughts with other motivational speakers in explaining How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love
. Popova explores the values of seven leaders who have found the "secret of happiness" through passion and satisfaction in their work.
Thinking Big: How to Be a Successful Entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur doesn't mean starting the next Facebook, James Altucher propounds in The 100 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur
. Having started several businesses, many of which failed, Altucher proffers the ins and outs of how to be successful once you've started a business. The "Do's:" Keep up with changing demographics, say "yes" to any opportunity that gets you in a room with a big decision-maker, and remember your competitors are potential acquirers. The "Don'ts:" Treat your customer like a company, be greedy about pricing your products, or leave important content for the second or third page on your website.
Factoids of the Week:
65% of marketers reported an improvement in search engine ranking after investing a minimum of 6 hours per week in their social media marketing. (Social Media Examiner)
For lead generation, Twitter now outperforms LinkedIn and Facebook 9 to 1. (MediaBistro)
Through 2020, the projected growth rate of employment for public relations managers and specialists is 21%, which is 7% higher than the average rate for all occupations. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Quotes of the Week:
"Always have something to sell, but don't always be selling." — Chris Brogan
"Don't shout to the masses; whisper to the few." — Seth Godin
PR Meetings, Seminars, White Papers
— SES Toronto
, hosted by ClickZ, will be held June 12 in Toronto, Canada. The cost to attend is $800 for a one-day pass, $1,400 for both SES days and $1,700 for an all-access pass.
, hosted by American Advertising Federation, will be held June 5 in Phoenix, AZ. The cost to attend is $720 for members and $1,290 for non-members.
PR & Marketing Job Openings
The listing for this issue includes PR job openings and marketing positions — with detailed job descriptions for each. Readers are invited to submit job postings to email@example.com
Best of Previous Issues
Determining Your Media Monitoring Needs
Print News Monitoring Vs. Online News Monitoring
Broadcast Monitoring for TV & Radio News
Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Service
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ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING
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