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

Post-Election Social Media Posts Could Haunt Your Online Reputation

Trump Or HillaryA week removed from the craziest presidential election in modern times, and we continue to feel the aftermath, particularly on social media sites where the avalanche of memes, gifs and rants continues to raise hackles on both sides of the political aisle.  Two days ago, I resisted the urge to perform my first “un-friending” on Facebook after receiving an inane reply to one of my posts.  Because I strive to be politically tolerant, I have moved past it.

Regardless of who you voted for, and I have close friends on both sides, I think we can agree that many of the election reactions were unfortunate.  An official in a West Virginia town was fired for a post-election racist tweet.  A Maryland school superintendent was criticized for an allegedly “anti-white” Twitter post.  And even Oprah Winfrey caught heat for her online reaction to the first meeting between President Obama and President-Elect Trump.

While the typical person’s online reaction to the election may not be vitriolic, we should all be aware that posts made online can remain forever.  Sure, your morning-after musings may now be deep in your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds, but they are still there nonetheless – and they can be found via search engines or just a small level of sleuthing.  Many of these posts will stay online forever, and I think that many of the things being said by folks on both sides will be regretted in the days, weeks and months ahead.Read More

Why Marketing Pros Should Care About the Dark Web

Deep Web and Dark WebMany marketing pros have no interest in technology, and when I bring up subjects like the deep web and the dark web, their eyes glaze over and they quickly reach for their phones. But after researching online reputation issues for my new book How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, I can say with absolute certainty that marketing professionals who ignore the deep web and the dark web do so at their organization’s or their client’s peril.

We begin most of our online interactions through a search engine like Google or Bing, or we access information directly through mobile apps associated with Facebook, CNN, the Weather Channel or another organization that makes its offerings easily reachable. This part of the internet, which everyone can see and is indexed by search engines, is known as the “surface web” and sometimes called the clear web or visible web.

However, vast amounts of information and data are exchanged out of the sight of search engines. Known as the “deep web,” this includes dynamic web pages, blocked sites, unlinked sites, private sites (like those that require login credentials), non-HTML content and private networks. Some estimates suggest the amount of information on the deep web (also known as the deep net, invisible web or hidden web) is 500 times greater than the surface web.

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A Social Media Policy Can Prevent Online #Fails

Social Media Policy RecommendationsWe read about social media slip-ups that impact businesses all the time. An executive inadvertently posts a tweet with confidential information, employees offer-up opinions on controversial subjects and find themselves in hot water, and social media departments inadvertently publish offensive images.  Often, the lack of a social media policy is to blame.

On July 4, 2014, American Apparel posted an image on its Tumblr account that someone thought was fireworks but was in reality a stylized image of the space shuttle Challenger explosion from 1986.  It was a huge and offensive embarrassment.  Aside from a better senses of history, how do you protect your business from social media mishaps?  A solid social media policy is a good start, so here are the main elements of a social media policy.

Offline rules apply to online activities

Most companies have an employment agreement or handbook which offers guidance on employee conduct.  A social media policy should include a reminder that the guidelines in the employee handbook apply not only to traditional offline activities but online conduct as well.Read More

Stop Taking Pictures of Your Private Parts and Other Online Reputation Advice

Stop taking pictures of your private partsRecently, I spoke at my local chamber of commerce about online issues, and a number of attendees approached me about a section of my presentation which they thought was particularly relevant for teenagers, college students and young professionals. They encouraged me to write about it and share my advice.

As the father of two teenagers who has been studying online reputation issues for the past three years and as the author of new book on the topic, How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online, I agreed it was a good idea to spread the word.

Here are five key things that young people need to be concerned about when it comes to their reputation online.

Follow the rules
The best way to have a good online reputation is to have a good offline reputation. This starts with being respectful of life’s many rules and the laws of the land. As I was finishing my book, I was watching the NFL Draft and one of the biggest stories was that of Laremy Tunsil, the eventual first round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins. Tunsil’s Twitter account was hacked moments before the draft and a picture of him smoking marijuana was published for the world to see. He dropped 13 places in the draft, and it is estimated that it cost him about $10 million. Here’s the point: No matter what you think of the marijuana laws in our country, it is still against law for anyone in the United States under the age of 18 to smoke pot, even in Colorado. Tunsil broke the rules and it cost him dearly. We have to teach our kids to follow the rules, plain and simple. Breaking life’s rules is a quick way to get yourself in trouble and one way to easily have problems online.Read More

Asking You For The Sale — My Book Is Now Available

how to protect or destroy your reputation onlineWhen I first started my career in public relations, I was really lousy at asking for the sale.  I always had great information, great data and (usually) a compelling story idea, but I wasn’t always good at asking for the interview, the article or the opportunity.  I have learned a lot since those early days, and today, I’m asking for a very specific sale.  I want you to buy my book.

How to Protect (Or Destroy) Your Reputation Online begins shipping today from online booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and 800-CEO-Read, among others.  And it will be available in “bookstores everywhere” very soon.

I spent a tremendous amount of time and energy researching and writing the book, and I believe it has more information about online reputation issues and how to handle online problems than any other book ever written.

During the course of writing the book, I received great advice from a number of tremendous marketing minds.  First and foremost, David Meerman Scott, who wrote The New Rules of Marketing & PR told me that I need to spend as much time promoting my book as I did writing it.  So here’s more information on the book and why you should consider picking up a copy.

Why:  You are vulnerable, and you may not even know it.  Any business can be reviewed online, and I mean any business. Any person or business can be victimized by online complaint sites.  The deep web and dark web create a whole new world of issues that give cybersecurity experts nightmares — your business may have online holes that you can’t even see.  Hate blogs, revenge porn, and even honest mistakes can cause lasting digital damage.  Honestly I think this is information that every marketer and business owner should have.  If you don’t want it for yourself, then you should probably order a copy for members of your marketing team.

What:  I learned from another excellent marketing mind that I need to be visible.  From reading David Avrin’s book Visibility Marketing, I learned that I need to promote what is unique about my product and get it in front of the right audience.  I have started speaking to business and civic groups and my talks have been met enthusiastically as I discussed reputation management for individuals, review sites for businesses and the covert ops of online reputation.  I will be doing more of that, starting very soon.

  • Speaking and signing books for the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce on October 27th.
  • Book signing and reading at Books & Books in Coral Gables Nov. 1st.
  • Officially presenting my book and participating on author’s row at the Miami Book Fair Nov. 19-20.


If you would like me to speak about online reputation issues at your group or event, let me know.  More on that at http://onlinerepbook.com/speaking/

Who:  From my friend Jeffrey Hayzlett, who wrote Think Big, Act Bigger, I learned that oftentimes you have to remind people through your actions who you are and why you are “the guy.”  Online reputation is my topic.  I know more about it than anyone else because I have been studying all aspects of it for three years.  It’s complicated but I boiled it down and made it easy to digest.  First, I tell you how we got to where we are today, then I explain your vulnerabilities and then I describe how to protect yourself.  It has many interesting anecdotes and a bunch of case studies.  And you can read my book in a day.  (It’s 60,ooo words and 244 pages, but you can knock it out quickly.)

Where:  From Brian Solis, the customer experience guru who wrote X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, I learned that I have to focus intently on my customer.  While I can’t do much to improve the shopping experience for books offered online or in brick and mortar stores, I can put you within a click or two of making the purchase.  You can find my book here:

Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and 800-CEO-Read.

If you are interested in signed copies, I can handle small quantities myself and may even come to you in Greater Miami.  My local bookseller, Books & Books (ask for Laura Deutsch), offers discounts for sales in bulk – including sending bulk orders of signed copies, which is pretty cool.

When: Today, please buy it today.

Thanks again to everyone who bought a copy and who has helped me on this journey.

–John

College Reputation Arms Race – And Puppies

College Admissions Arms RaceThe university admissions process is a big topic around my house these days as my daughter is prepping for college entrance exams.  Higher education has never been such a big business, and the college decision grows more complicated as rankings proliferate from well-known media outlets and unknown blogs alike.  Questions are beginning to swirl around our atmosphere of friends, colleagues and family members.  Where can your kid get in?  What universities, if any, are affordable?  What defines a good college reputation these days?  More questions than answers.

One thing I know for sure is that many of the nation’s thousands of colleges and universities are engaged in a reputational arms race.

One of the main battlegrounds is intercollegiate sports, and Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity recently completed a study about it.  (Given my obsessive relationship with college football, it’s no wonder I found this interesting.)  If you follow college sports, you have heard about universities bulking-up their sports programs with the goal of raising the school’s overall profile.  Nike founder Phil Knight famously donates millions to his beloved University of Oregon with one of the indisputable strategies being that better sports teams (and very flashy uniforms) will increase the overall reputation of the university.  Financier T. Boone Pickens has made similar donations to Oklahoma State University, and I’m sure there are many other examples.Read More

Improve Crisis Messaging through Deeper Social Media Analysis

david pr twitter during crisisDespite incredible advances in technology, the development of messaging during a crisis still feels like it is done on the fly.  We look at our key audiences (such as customers, employees or the general public) and then try to put ourselves in their shoes.  What do they want to hear from our company during this crisis?  What do we surmise they are thinking about us?  We put on our mind-reading helmets to attempt to sympathize and empathize because that’s how we were trained.  Researchers at the University of Missouri just completed a study which suggests that there might be a better mousetrap.  And, yes, it has to do with social media and how your reputation is determined online.

Doctoral students Doug Wilbur and Dani Myers analyzed Twitter responses to a crisis and found that seemingly unorganized or semi-organized groups may actually develop organized positions toward a company in crisis.  I know that sounds a bit odd and far-too-academic for my usual blog post, but here comes the example that tells the tale.

Wilbur and Myers looked at the NFL’s concussion issue, and then gauged the impact of last year’s movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith.  They knew the movie would generate reactions from multiple audiences, and they decided to measure and analyze those reactions on Twitter.Read More

Visibility Marketing Book Helps Fix Messaging that “Probably Sucks”

Visibility MarketingHere’s a news flash from well-known speaker and author David Avrin: Your marketing probably sucks. Ouch, right? In his latest book, Visibility Marketing, Avrin pulls no punches after years of consulting with companies about messaging and marketing. He concludes that most companies are using the same, competency-based messages – which may have worked in the past but don’t work now.

What led him to this? I sat down with Avrin to find out, and in between grins and laughter, I learned a ton. According to Avrin, whose book launches this week, the marketplace is populated with great companies that are smart, strong, lean and good at what they do. It’s no longer effective to suggest that your company is simply better than your competitors because 1) it’s probably not true and 2) the marketplace is fed-up with hearing the same trite messages over and over again.Read More

How to Measure Reputation

davidpr.com measure reputation

Harris Reputation Quotient attributes

Measurement in the world of public relations has always been an ethereal concept. Putting a value on media coverage or social media awareness remains a bit of a Holy Grail. How we measure reputation appears just as daunting to me, but it turns out that analysts at the Harris Poll have been studying this since 1999, gauging the reputations of the most visible companies in the U.S. through the eyes of the general public.

I spoke with Sarah Simmons who gave me a great rundown as the firm tracks many companies and compiles data each year for its poll. (Simmons works for Nielsen Holdings which purchased Harris Interactive in 2013.) While the companies at the top of the poll aren’t really a surprise – Amazon, Apple, Google, USAA, The Walt Disney Company (pre-alligator attack), Publix Super Markets, Samsung, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg Company – it’s interesting how the results are determined.Read More