Six key things PR professionals can do right now to protect a brand’s online reputation

By Anthony Bullick, managing director of Outwrite PR and chair of the CIPR North West committee.

Online reputation management is one of the core elements to a brand’s success. Fantastic products and services mean nothing if their reviews are terrible or there’s negative coverage.

Consumers read an average of seven reviews before trusting a business and 49 per cent look for at least a four-star rating before they choose to purchase from them.

Follow these six key actions to effectively manage your digital footprint.

1 Audit: What is already out there? Check for unofficial or old accounts as well as Facebook groups about your brand. Monitor them so you can see what’s being said. Then move onto official accounts: set clear processes and procedures for checking comments and messages that come into your branded platforms.

What starts out offline often ends up online. Are customers satisfied? Addressing this early can avoid any published negativity. Speak to departments such as the sales team. Are there any patterns or common complaints such as late deliveries and difficulties in contacting customer service due to a high volume of calls?

2 Don’t forget employees: Glassdoor provides a platform for workers to share their concerns so ensure excellent internal communications places them at the heart of the business and keeps them updated. Also, your staff are your brand ambassadors and are more likely respond to online comments to defend the company and correct inaccurate perceptions.

3 Target review sites: There are a whole host of platforms out there for people to express their opinion on anyone from tradesmen to physiotherapists. Increase the number of positive reviews across all possible sites. Google in particular is one of the first ratings consumers will see. A popular method is by offering incentives for reviews. In the event of a negative comment in future weeks or months, it will be surrounded by positive feedback.

4 Update your crisis communications plan: Review how the last few weeks have gone with the coronavirus. Are there any steps you missed from the crisis plan? Now is the perfect time to update these communications. Rake over the finer details such as who your spokesperson is. Are they still the best person for the job? How often do you hold media training? Are all key people regularly trained?

5 Secure positive media coverage: People searching for your brand name will see whatever websites Google chooses to show – whether good or bad. As news sites are trusted by Google, they often occupy search results on page one. Is the organisation progressing with CSR? What internal news is there to share? Identify feel good stories and share for media hits and engagement.

6 Training and development: There are lots of free webinars hosted by the CIPR which cover a range of topics to help you learn and develop. These also contribute towards your CPD. Use scenarios identified in your crisis comms plan and run exercises. What were the strengths and weaknesses when you played out the examples?

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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