Thursday, 7 August 2008

Have you googled yourself lately?

Managing online reputation should be a key priority

Have you googled yourself lately? It sounds egocentric but corporations should be very sensitive to this question. Do you know what is being written on the internet about your organization? Are you aware of the fact that people that have a bad experience with your products and services might be jeopardizing the reputation of your organization by starting a blog on the net? Do you realize that blogs can have an enormous negative impact on your corporate reputation? Blogs, forums, wikis and social networks gain popularity every day and without a plan to monitor and manage your company’s online reputation, you could be at risk.

Recently, Fox Business News dedicated a news item to this topic. Blog expert Rob Neppell explained the essence of the importance of blog tracking: “You have to know what is being said about you on the internet. Without having that information you are really flying blind from a public relations standpoint”. Dell Computer Corp. has the honour to be one of the first big corporations that did not know how to deal with a growing number of customers who were ventilating their dissatisfaction by putting blogs on the internet. It all started in August 2005 when Jeff Jarvis started to post a series of messages entitled “Dell Hell” on his blog. He enumerated his struggles with Dell’s customer support service. Very soon, his widely circulated criticism had triggered dozens of other bloggers and hundreds of commenters to publicly complain about the service they received from Dell’s technical support. After two years of struggling with this viral nightmare Dell realized that it should have communicated very sooner with the bloggers. Finally, Jeff Jarvis met CEO Michael Dell, he toured the factories and he was embraced by the Dell management. This case started extremely badly but Dell seemed to learn from the lesson.

Embrace or sue?
Should you embrace bloggers that are complaining about your company’s products and services? Or should you sue them? “Suing a blogger is probably the worst thing you can do, unless something illegal is going on. You always look like Goliath beating up on David if you send a legal notice to a blogger” says Rop Neppell. A first lesson is to talk and to communicate with the blogger. Get your facts out. Try to make personal contact with them and say that you are willing to sort out any problem. A second lesson is to understand the blogosphere. Who is a leading blogger? Who can have an impact on others? Does the message get a widespread attention? And how popular are these bloggers?

So, have you googled yourself? What are you waiting for? From a public relations standpoint it is becoming more and more clear that every company is going to have evangelists (who are spreading good news in the blogosphere and who undertake good relations with bloggers) and vigilantes (who are searching for all kind of negative news on your organization) in order to manage the reputation of your organization.

You can find the interview with Rop Neppell on the following link:

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