A key skillset for communicators who are trying to grow and expand their offerings is online reputation management, which includes everything from social media to user-generated content like reviews.
These are powerful, as evidenced by a recent IMRG and StoryStream study which reported that reviews helped drive 73% of responders to make purchases.
Keeping abreast of what’s being said about you is as important as getting stories planted in the news — and in some cases, even more. It can help you identify an issue before it’s a crisis or help root out amazing stories that should make their way into your pitches and brand journalism.
Monitoring is essential
Scott Baradell, who owns the public relations firm Idea Grove in Dallas, said brand monitoring is key to serving clients.
“We need to be monitoring things 24-7 and react to them as they happen,” Baradell said. “Especially with bigger brands. A study indicated most brands respond to social media complaints within 24 hours, but most social media users expect a response within two hours. And that’s the disconnect that’s going to hurt brands and you’re going to have to figure out what to do with it. You (must) proactively think of what may happen, what are your vulnerabilities and plan responses.”
Many monitoring programs are set up with email alerts to make the process easier.
Baradell said brands should focus on long-term strategies by consistently responding to concerns and building legitimate positive reviews from customers.
New skills, not new ideas
While some of these skills may seem new, Baradell says the same principles that help with reputation management have been around since the beginning of the modern era of public relations.
“I tell (people) to start with the foundation things that are elements of PR and how can you evolve them into the new era,” Baradell said.
Baradell said is based on the same public relations principles that industry pioneer Ivy Lee used when he helped railroads with reputation management over 100 years ago.
Lee’s mission was to tell show transparency in dealing with reporters.
“Tell the truth, because sooner or later the public will find out anyway,” Baradell said Lee would tell clients. “And if the public doesn’t like what you are doing, change your policies and bring them into line with what people want.”
Baradell cited Lee’s work as the base for today’s reputation management.
“SEO and online reputation management fundamentally comes from the same places that PR comes from,” Baradell said. “If you try to understand all things Google, good luck. But if you wanted to set up good online reputation management practice and to do that today, (you) need to modernize it.”
After communicators understand the foundation of public relations, Baradell said the technical things can fall into place.
Baradell’s book on the public relations industry called “Trust Signals” can be found on Amazon.