Quick Guide to Online Review Management

David PR Group Online Review ManagementReview sites are here to stay, so we can’t put our heads in the sand and ignore them anymore. Sites exist to review all manner of businesses, and your business may have reviews that you have never seen – leaving the reputation of your business in the hands of the internet community without any input from the business owner or management.  Review sites have strong authority with search engines, and online reputation management firms which have attempted to suppress review sites with positive content are losing the battle. Many online reputation pros have thrown in the towel and are now recommending engagement to change review site content, rather than trying to push them down in search results.

Claim

Claim or create your company page on the main review sites. Your company may not yet have a listing on a site like Yelp, but any customer or interested party could create one without your knowledge and certainly without your consent. Business owners should look at the main review sites and either claim their page if one has already been created or create their own listing – this will give you a small level of control. If you have a claimed page, then you can enable the tools provided to businesses by review sites, such as notifications of new reviews and the ability to respond to reviews. This is the single most important reason to claim your page, so that you will be notified of new reviews.

Build Out

Build out your review site listings. Across the board, executives from review sites recommend completing profiles and adding information to business listings. Up-to-date photos, videos and descriptions increase page views as well as interest from prospective customers or employees.  Plain listings without images look stale as customers on review sites are typically interested in getting current information. At a minimum, most review sites offer the opportunity to post photos, videos, detailed descriptions, hours of operations and contact information.

Engage

Engagement. Likely the biggest trend in online reviews centers on engagement. Interaction between businesses and their customers helps build the overall sense of community, and executives from review sites universally advocate for responding to both positive and negative reviews.  While responding to a negative review may not change the opinion of the reviewer, the response may positively impact the next consumer.  According to TripAdvisor, for example, business owners should explain in responses how they plan to remedy negative situations. Future customers appreciate honesty and also react favorably to engaged businesses.

All business, not just those in hospitality, need to develop an ongoing strategy to manage online reviews. Regular audits of online practices and a commitment to engagement are critical.

–John

Top Online Reputation Trends for 2019

David PR Group Online Reputation Trends for 2019After a year that saw a slew of epic social media fails, like an Elon Musk tweet leading to a set of $20 million fines and numerous folks losing jobs over offensive posts, I can say with certainty that 2019 will offer a new batch of colorful online problems. Some of the old pitfalls remain, but there’s also hope as we learn to better manage our online lives – and hopefully be less judgmental of others. Here are five key online reputation trends for 2019.

Your job is watching you, but mainly if you screw up

While most employers truly don’t care what you do in your off hours, what you say on personal social media accounts can still get you in hot water and even fired. For example, last month Green Bay Packers Associate Head Coach Winston Moss posted on Twitter that the team needs to hold star quarterback Aaron Rodgers accountable for the team’s poor play. Moss was quickly fired. Lesson: Don’t publicly bash your organization’s most high-profile employee. Sure, we have freedom of speech in America, but you don’t get to say whatever you want with impunity. I’m not an employment lawyer so I can’t get into the finer points of what constitutes a legally fire-able offense, but I know that in some states an employer doesn’t need a reason to terminate you. My advice is that it’s best to keep controversial opinions to yourself, and don’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying in your company break room among all of your co-workers.Read More

Holiday Tips to Protect Your Online Reputation

As we close out the year, many of us will attend office-sponsored holiday parties and fun gatherings with friends and neighbors. Risks for online problems have never been greater as 2018 was marked by a rise in people losing their jobs due to negative social media posts and all manners of online reputation problems.

A few key tips for holiday party season:

More cameras than ever

Each year, it becomes easier for holiday party misdeeds to be captured digitally. The global digital surveillance market is projected to grow by more than 9% per year, and this year Amazon bought video doorbell company Ring for a purported $1 billion. More cameras are coming.  According to Pew Research Center, more than three quarters (77%) of U.S. adults own a smartphone. That means that three out of four folks at your party have a camera – and many are not afraid to use it. So when you are thinking about having that extra glass of wine,imagine that nearly every adult can take your photo in an instant. Be on your best behavior.  And when you are at a gathering with coworkers, don’t complain – about anything.  If you are not having fun, power through it and leave early.  Don’t over-imbibe,over-stay or over-talk because bad behavior can be memorialized online. Have a good time but as I tell my college-aged daughter: “Don’t do shots.”Read More

Can You Really Submit an Op-Ed Anonymously?

Can you really submit an anonymous op-ed?Events of last week struck me regarding the concept of anonymity these days.  Like everyone else, I’m curious to learn the author of the now infamous New York Times anonymous op-ed. (Analysis from Slate and the BBC is fun to read.) I will let others jump into the mud pit to wrestle over whether the author is a patriot or a coward. I’m interested in how one actually remains anonymous in the digital age.

Word is that the op-ed author approached the Times through an intermediary, and his/her identity was confirmed by the paper.  If you or I wanted to get sensitive or confidential information to an outlet like the Times, could we do it and remain anonymous?

You can go right to the media outlets for answers. The Times, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Forbes, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today, among others, offer ways to send a confidential news tip.  SecureDrop and old-fashioned postal mail are the most common, but here are a few options:Read More

No Reputation is a Bad Reputation

no reputation is a bad reputation David PRSome businesses do well operating “under the radar.”  During my career I have met many executives who have purposely kept a low profile, avoiding publicity as they focus intently on their business and their market.  The strategy sometimes makes sense when companies face large logistical and operational challenges that supersede public relations and marketing.  Some executives also shy away from PR because they don’t want to draw the attention of potential competitors.

My experience is that this only works up to a point.

In recent weeks, I have encountered several companies that are facing significant online issues.  One is a a great company that took flying beneath the radar to new extremes.  The company has thousands of employees and multiple offices, appears to be very successful and yet has almost no online presence.Read More

Businesses Should Fight Back Against Online Attacks

Social media and online reviews bring an incredible new level of accountability to the customer service equation. The internet enables consumers to reach out to companies and service providers in brand new ways, and I believe the transparency that exists because of these online tools is a great thing for commerce. However, there’s a difference between feedback and online attacks.

Companies that fail to deliver on their product and brand promises are quickly weeded out, and frankly, it’s keeping many business owners on their toes. However, sometimes these powerful tools are misused, and it’s important for both individuals and businesses to understand that one should not go on social media and bash a company without considering the consequences. A couple cases have been publicized recently.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter caught considerable heat recently for her online tantrum about Delta Airlines. If you haven’t heard the story, Coulter had her seat assignment changed and got very upset.  I guess sitting by the window or aisle or whatever is extremely important to her.  She felt wronged by Delta, yet before the airline could even make an apology to her, she started tweeting and tweeting and tweeting her disgust.  She wanted to really hurt the airline; instead, she ended up just making herself look petty and foolish.

Here’s the thing, we all make mistakes. In the grand scheme of life, Coulter’s seat change is a pretty minor thing, and most of us understand that businesses make mistakes. But Coulter went bonkers, and her acrimonious online attack didn’t fit the crime.  Delta, thankfully, did not roll over for her. The airline apologized for the mistake, gave her a refund for the change fee and then did something that I thought was really important. They scolded her.Read More

Social media policies in order after “covfefe” kerfuffle and Kathy Griffin photos

COVFEFE definitionWhen President Donald Trump tweets gibberish (“covfefe” anyone?) and comedienne Kathy Griffin loses her job over a photo depicting the same president beheaded, it makes me wonder if either has even heard of social media policies.

Before jumping to the corporate world, here are a few personal tips when it comes to communicating in modern times.

  1. Don’t drink and dial (or tweet or text or snap.) Goes without saying that impaired communication doesn’t go over well with your boss or your ex.
  2. Don’t argue via instant message. Whether its via Facebook messenger, What’sApp, text message or another form of instant messenger, it’s best not to fight or argue only using your thumbs. The nuance of language is lost, and you may permanently damage a relationship.
  3. Put a second set of eyes on social media posts. If you are tweeting for your company, care about your personal brand or have anything to lose on social media, don’t distribute anything even remotely controversial without having another human being look at it.  This is a must for corporate social media postings and anyone running their own business.  A costly mistake could be averted with a second set of eyes.

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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

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

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