A Pocket Square Is Not Your Reputation

Pocket square is not your reputationGreat location, beautiful offices and a CEO who wears designer suits, ties that pop and impeccably folded pocket squares.  Too bad the company can’t find a qualified office manager because online review site Glassdoor says the dapper executive’s business only rates one and a half stars.

I heard yet another online reputation horror story this week as a business struggles to find new talent because online reviews suggest the company is not great place to work.

The sad aspects are that the online reputation and the actual reputation of the company don’t match, and the top executives are focusing more on how they appear in client meetings than how the internet presents their business.  The web is the front door to all our businesses, so if how you appear online looks questionable, then spiffy offices, tailored shirts and luxury cars don’t really matter.

Before you go on another shopping spree for office attire, please check out some basic online advice that overrules a delightful pocket square:Read More

Trump Administration Sets PR Back Years

Melissa McCarthy is Sean SpicerSince the election, I have discussed President Donald Trump’s communications style and practices with dozens of people, from fellow public relations and communications pros to friends and family members.  While I don’t want to get into specifics about his foreign and domestic policies, I am comfortable discussing how Trump’s communications practices have the potential to set back the PR profession years.

Sure, my profession doesn’t itself have the greatest reputation.  I have been called a flack, a spin doctor and probably worse (actually, I know there’s worse), but I believe the example being set in Washington for the future of public relations is more damaging than mere name calling.Read More

Three Questions Every Business Needs to Ask About Online Risk

3 questions to answer about online riskHaving recently written a book about online reputation issues, I spend a lot of time thinking about online risk, and I am increasingly interested in cybersecurity.  Online reputation and cybersecurity are both interconnected and of critical importance for most businesses.  Yet while I believe every business needs to understand these risks, some are more susceptible than others.

Hackers prefer some industries while online reputation problems can have greater impact with other types of businesses.

While thinking this through, I boiled it down to three key factors for dealing with online risk.  Answer these three questions and you will have a better understanding of your business’ level of risk for online problems.

Do your employees touch private data? 

Hackers want private information that they can exploit quickly or sell on the black market.  If your employees touch the private data of your customers, then you have risk.  Do you accept applications for financing, for example, where private information like social security numbers or driver’s license numbers are exchanged?  Does this information get e-mailed?  Do you coordinate wire transfers?  Do you send or receive wire instructions via e-mail?  Do you handle medical records of your clients?  Do you allow customers to pay by credit card over the phone?Read More

How to Manage an Online Catastrophe

online catastrophe david PRThe most well-known online reputation problems typically fall into a category that I refer to as “catastrophic.”  Many people make online mistakes each day, but only a few online errors will spiral out of control, go viral and end-up causing economic damage or personal misfortune. An online catastrophe gets widely shared, makes the news and has people talking — sometimes laughing.

We have seen many examples:

  • An executive writes an inappropriate tweet and loses her job.
  • A public company CFO accidentally leaks insider information on his Twitter account – drawing attention from investors and regulators alike.
  • A pilot suggests one of the presidential candidates should be executed – drawing a suspension and forcing the airline to explain why the guy belongs on the payroll.
  • A professional athlete publishes a picture of his junk on social media (too many to mention.)

In these worst-case scenarios, a social media post gets shared, catches the eye of mainstream media outlets and then ends up everywhere.  They are the most difficult to manage.Read More

Cybersecurity, Human Error and Online Reputation

Moonlight wins best pictureHuman error took center stage this week in the world of crisis and reputation management.  By now we all know that accounting and consulting firm PwC, the firm hired to tabulate and manage the results of the Academy Awards, gave the wrong envelope to actor Warren Beatty, who was responsible for reading the winner of the Best Picture Oscar.  The accountant in charge was distracted during the process (allegedly tweeting) and Beatty and Faye Dunaway read the wrong winner – and then chaos ensued.  The incident made worldwide headlines and PwC took a tremendous reputational hit.  Human error, compounded by distraction, was the primary cause.  (In case you haven’t heard, PwC partner Brian Cullinan was taken off the Academy Awards assignment, and the account is under review by the Academy.)

The other day, I attended a seminar at another accounting and consulting firm called MBAF in Miami.  They hosted a great event where a number of experts discussed current trends in cyber crime.  Interestingly, one of the main themes was human error.  We know that cyber criminals target organizations with hacking efforts and denial of service attacks, and in some cases companies get infiltrated as the bad guys find ways around firewalls and cyber-defenses.Read More

Online Review Sites: The New Normal

Online Review Sites David PRThe value proposition for online review sites is simple as they enables almost anyone to offer a public review and rating of a business. A review site allows users to give both good and bad reviews of businesses – and gives consumers the opportunity to make an informed purchase decision. This new reality can be a challenge for businesses, however.

Here are some general recommendations when it comes to online reviews:Read More

Do you Resolve to Write a Business Book?

yes you can write a business book

It might surprise you to learn that when I tell people I published a business book, the first question I’m most frequently asked is not “What is the book about?” or “Why did you write it?”  Instead, it’s “Did you self-publish?”  When I tell them that my book was published by a traditional publisher that paid me to write it, I generally get an “Oh, really?” with an eyebrow raise—and then we almost immediately jump to a “How did you do that?” conversation.

It’s interesting to me that the assumption is that I self-published, and I think this has as much to do with an overriding belief that self-publishing is the path of least resistance and also that securing a publishing contract is impossible.

I’m here to tell you that getting a traditional publishing deal to write a business book is absolutely possible, and I’m not diminishing self-publishing in the least.Read More

9 Business Books Recommended as Last-Minute Gifts

9 business books as last minute giftsSince writing my book How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, I have met many interesting authors and interviewed a number of them for my blog.  Here are nine books I can wholeheartedly recommend as last-minute gifts.  All are available on Amazon.com and can be shipped in time for the holidays if you, as they say, act now.

In alphabetical order:Read More

Fake News Can Damage Your Corporate Reputation

fake news hillary adops alien babyFake news just got real.

Last weekend, a North Carolina man named Edgar Welch drove to Washington, D.C., with the belief that an area pizzeria was the center of a “Hillary Clinton-sponsored child sex ring.” If you think it sounds crazy and fantastical that the former Secretary of State would be involved in such a thing, then you are like most people who have figured out the difference between real and fake news. Unfortunately, Welch read the fake story online, thought the tale was true and then decided to “go superhero” and try to bust-up the ring himself. Armed with an assault rifle, he entered the pizza joint and even fired his weapon. Scary stuff.

Fake news is nothing new. Most of us can quickly tell the difference between bona fide news coverage and information that is blatantly false. We also understand the concept of tabloid journalism and how some publications like the Weekly World News and the National Enquirer offer sensational stories with the hopes of drawing readers who will patronize their advertisers.

In recent years, fake news has gained a toehold on the internet, and most of us either ignore it or view it as annoying or maybe even amusing. Fake news was amplified during the presidential campaign, and some even believe that such stories impacted how people voted and even turned the presidential election.Read More

Time for PR to Take Back Reputation Management

All roads lead to reputation managementAs an old-school public relations consultant, I remember the days when “reputation management” was strictly a PR term.  We learned about it in our college courses and included it on our websites as a practice area.  But then sometime in the past few years, reputation management was stolen from us by the search engine optimization world.  Today, when you mention reputation management, most people equate it with “online” reputation management and the act of trying to manipulate search results by pushing down, burying or suppressing negative content and links.

If you don’t believe me, ask Wikipedia (cue groans.)  I know that our profession has an “it’s complicated” relationship with Wikipedia, but millions of people use it each day, and here’s what it says about reputation management:

Reputation management refers to influencing and controlling an individual’s or business’s reputation. Originally a public relations term, the expansion of the internet and social media, along with reputation management companies, have made it primarily an issue of search results.

Ouch, right?Read More