Online reputation management (ORM) is in vogue. LinkedIn records a 38 percent growth in people recording the term named as a skill or expertise. And a veritable cottage industry of agencies and individuals has sprouted to service the swelling ranks of organizations that keep them from going hungry.
But help for what? What is ORM?
LinkedIn describes it as: "the practice of monitoring the Internet reputation of a person, brand or business, with the goal of suppressing negative mentions entirely, or pushing them lower on search engine results pages to decrease their visibility," a definition supported by a search on Google or a conversation with digital or other agencies offering ORM services.
In this scenario, ORM can too easily appear to be a dark art practiced by shady search/SEO specialists and underhand PR types for organizations with dodgy practices experiencing crises or social media campaigns running amok.
As it is seen and practiced today, ORM appears to be based on two key assumptions:
Both assumptions are mistaken, for two key reasons:
In addition to core search engine optimization (as well as de-optimization, as PR people are apt to describe the burying of bad news), a broader-ranging and sustainable approach to ORM is required that is consistent with an organization's broader corporate and/or brand reputation strategy - as opposed to a much-need fix of online visibility (and budget) when the shit hits the proverbial fan.
Some key questions should be asked to inform a firm's broader ORM (and overall reputation) strategy. These might usefully include:
Successful ORM also requires the assigned team or teams - be it the PR agency, digital agency, media agency, or in-house - to work more closely with other relevant teams and to have a common goal.
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Charlie Pownall is a senior communications consultant with twenty-plus years’ experience in Public Relations and Digital Communications. A corporate and social media communications specialist, he started his career in government writing speeches before moving into journalism, in-house corporate communications, digital marketing and, for the past six years, social media. Previous employers include Burson-Marsteller, WPP, Syzygy Group, Reuters London News Radio and the European Commission. Charlie is a member of stakeholder engagement consultancy WATATAWA’s Catalyst Group of independent consultants and experts. He is also a Senior Consultant at communications skills training, coaching and consulting firm Simitri Group and an Associate with VMA Enhance , a specialist corporate communications training firm. Charlie writes extensively on marketing and communications, and has authored white papers and reports on reputation management, stakeholder reporting and investor relations. His Corporate Reputation In the Digital Age white paper was awarded at WPP’s prestigious annual Atticus Awards 2011.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT