During the days when the internet was just getting traction, a company’s reputation usually relied on word of referrals, press releases, coverage from newspapers and rating agencies like the Better Business Bureau. At the time, it was normal only for large companies with deep pockets to hire their own PR staff or employ expensive public relations firms to manage their public opinion. Now that the internet has been widely adopted by the public, large corporations, small businesses and even individuals are quickly realizing that they are being forced to manage their online reputation or risk face an internet backlash.
Small business owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo know this all too well. The couple, who own Amy’s Baking Company, recently appeared on the popular TV show, “Kitchen Nightmares”, starring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. After being uncooperative on the show, Mr. Ramsey “fired” the two owners amid the drama.
A decade ago, the Bouzaglo’s TV escapades may have simply ended the next day around the company water cooler. Unfortunately for the couple, with the new internet paradigm, the unscripted TV drama quickly escalated to the internet, after fans of the show began posting on the company’s website. Rather than trying to de-escalate the situation, the Bouzaglos began attacking the posters, which in turn drew a larger counter-attack and spiraled into a vicious cycle that eventually resulted in a full public relations meltdown for the restaurant owners. A post-mortem shows their Yelp listing decimated with hundreds of 1-star reviews, a play-by-play analysis on the evening news and a case study in what happens when reputation management goes wrong.
Though the Bouzaglo’s are an extreme example, restaurant owners and small business owners for years have started feeling the heat of managing their reputation. One nasty review left on a review site or any number of consumer complaint boards such as Rip Off Report can directly affect how a customer views that company and may lead business elsewhere. With market data showing that the large majority of consumers to Google a company before utilizing their product or services, it has become imperative for businesses to control how they are seen by both existing and potential customers. Even an individual with an unfortunate same name as a convicted felon (think Bernie Madoff) may find themselves the poor recipient of unwanted attention.
Reputation management is essentially dictating how companies and individuals want to be seen by others on the internet. The task of doing so has often been mystifying, often with references to search engine optimization and social media. The truth is that anyone with time and effort is capable of learning how to manage their search engine results.
Here at Reputable.com, our engineers have been working with search engines since the early days of Google and understand search better than most. While we can tell you that total control of search results may be unrealistic, it is possible to manage your results and reputation so that you can put your best foot forward.
We’re looking forward to showing you how.