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How (not) to do reputation management

I found a great post highlighting the dangers of old ways of thinking in a Web 2.0 world. If your gut reaction to someone 'dissing' you online is to reach for your lawyer's phone number then you may want to read this post and think carefully about what you're doing.

I found a great blog post highlighting the dangers of old ways of thinking in a Web 2.0 world. If your gut reaction to someone ‘dissing’ your personal brand or your corporate brand online is to reach for your lawyer’s phone number then you may want to read this post and think carefully about what you’re doing, and the effect it may have on your reputation.

There IS a time and place for the lawyers, and reputations have to be protected, but online it’s sometimes easier to work with your enemy rather than trying to gag them. In particular, a badly timed legal letter can blow a minor argument up into a very public mud slinging match, and regardless of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ the public will often side with the party being gagged just on principle.

That’s where a carefully thought out contingency plan, worked out in advance in consultation with both your lawyers and your marketers becomes essential. In the heat of the moment it gets a lot harder to start trying to figure out a measured response.

The keys to a ‘good’ reaction to bad news?

  1. be fast: get your message out to those who need to know as quickly as possible. If the bad news is about something you have been doing then make sure you stop doing it while you investigate. If the media come calling then issue a press release or organise a press conference if necessary.
  2. be loud: make sure your positive message gets out there. Call key players personally. Publicise your press conference and get ‘bums on seats’. Follow up on press releases to make sure they get used.
  3. be factual: find out exactly what happened before you go to press. The last thing you want is for you (or your CEO) to be blind-sided by a better informed journalist
  4. be caring: show your customers and the public that they are your main concern, and that it is their interests you are protecting not your own
  5. be protective: make your customers and the public understand that you are looking after their interests on their behalf, so they don’t need to worry about it. Most people don’t want the hassle of having to figure out if it’s ok to do business with you: they’ll go and find someone they don’t have to think about. So make sure you are the one person in your market that they can deal with without having to wonder

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