Ten useful books on online reputation

Online reputation is a diffuse and slippery concept that means many things to many people. Type the phrase ‘online reputation’  into Google and 19,600,000 results are returned. Amazon lists over 950 books with the phrase in the title.

Most books on the topic are written from a marketing perspective and set out how (mostly smaller) companies can increase awareness, build interest, generate and convert business leads, and cement loyalty.

Far fewer books explore the thorny topic of online reputation protection and defence and, of these, most are fairly basic and reflect the typically fairly narrow disciplines (public relations, legal, search engine marketing, customer service, etc) and concerns of their authors.

Here are ten books written from a variety of perspectives that will help ensure companies (of all sizes) are properly equipped to ride out online storms when they occur. They are listed alphabetically.

Civility in the Digital Age by Andrea Weckerle. A thoughtful and practical guide to understanding and resolving online trolling, bullying, harassment, lynch mobs and other unpleasant situations. Written by a conflict management specialist, Civility comes into its own when dealing with conflict management strategies and styles. It also contains a trove of useful footnotes.

How to Protect (or Destroy) Your Reputation Online by John P. David. A peek into the dark alleyways of the internet and guide on how to respond to negative search engine results, product reviews, revenge porn, and other negative situations. Particularly useful for small business owners and individuals.

Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. Drawing on proprietary research, Baer makes the case that companies must take all customer complaints seriously, including the angriest ones, invest in customer service as a priority, and develop appropriate processes for handling complaints internally.

Mechanics of Online Reputation Management by Tyler Collins. A deep dive into the mechanics of the practice of online reputation management, with an emphasis on search engine marketing and optimisation. Offers a wealth of useful pointers for the non-technician.

Social Media Crisis Communications by Ann Marie Van den Hurk. Places crises in a broader business and communications context, gives useful tips on how to approach social media operationally, and sets out how a number of examples of companies responding to serious negative situations.

Social Media Risk & Governance by Phil Mennie. Explores the external and internal risks of social media for large organisations, before setting out the structures, systems and processes that can be used to minimise them. Contains many topical examples and case studies.

Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich. Shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of communications today, much of it online, and argues that companies can only succeed today by being honest, ethical, and educational. Sets out the author’s PESO integrated communications model.

The Social Media Strategist by Christopher Barger. Warts and all account of how to get a company-wide social media program off the ground. Contains an intriguing blow-by-blow account of the auto manufacturer’s use of social media to respond to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday. A fascinating and unedifying glimpse into the inner workings of Buzzfeed, Gawker and other blogs upending the plate tectonics of the news industry. A compelling read if you’re wondering why certain kinds of news stories seem to appear out of nowhere and why they can be so difficult to manage.

Last but not least, there is my contribution to the canon:

Managing Online Reputation by Charlie Pownall. Draws on in-depth interviews with environmental activists, media and IP lawyers, IT security, digital forensics, emergency response and search engine marketing professionals to determine how companies should respond to and plan for a variety of hostile online incidents.

Happy reading.

Photo by Rendiansyah Nugroho on Unsplash

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Charlie Pownall is an independent reputation and communications adviser, trainer, educator and author. He brings broad deep experience in reputation management, crisis communications, incident response, communications planning and strategy, and digital and social media communications Prior to his current job, Charlie had been Regional Managing Director (Asia-Pacific) at Burson-Marsteller (now BCW), and Group Communications Manager at WPP plc. He started his career as a speechwriter and press officer at the European Commission, followed by a stint as a journalist at Reuters London News Radio (now LBC). He is author of Managing Online Reputation: How to Protect Your Company on Social Media (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

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