Why Your Company Needs an Active ORM Strategy
Managing your company’s online reputation is no longer a matter of choice. “It’s the world we live in today,” says Adam Dooley, owner and president of Dooley PR & Marketing. “If you’re in business, you’re getting reviewed online and talked about on social media. It makes sense to be part of the conversation.”
Tamara Bodi agrees. She is director of communications for McKim Communications Group, and says, “Things can quickly ignite on social media and not anywhere else. But social media is also a great tool to spread the good news and good information about your brand.”
According to Forbes magazine, three-quarters of the average company’s value is intangible.
Your company’s reputation directly impacts the bottom line. With the Internet being the most accessible resource worldwide, your customers can find out in a moment whether your company is one with which they want to do business. And with two-thirds of people considering the Internet as the most reliable source of information about a company, service or product, Dooley refers to the social proof: “What people say about your product or service or brand online directly influences the purchasing decisions of others. Total strangers’ opinions have that much impact.”
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett
Online reputation management (ORM) is a strategic effort to steer the narrative about your company, its brand, and its people. There are numerous components to ORM with no one-size-fits-all strategy. Typical ORM initiatives include a brand audit, setting up a Google alert for your company, social media marketing, leveraging public relations, investing in search engine optimization, and creating a culture of strong customer service. It involves using your owned media—the online channels your company controls, such as your branded website and social media accounts—to leverage and improve the impact of your earned media—such as any media coverage of your brand, online customer reviews, and word-of-mouth recommendations—and your paid media—your advertising and promotions campaigns.
Bodi says, “There are always reactive and proactive approaches. The better you are at being proactive, the easier it is if you ever have to be reactive to an issue.”
To be proactive, you must work hard at being visible Bodi explains. Visibility can come in many forms, such as using the company’s blog to tell your story, participating in podcasts to promote industry trends or new products, investing in corporate social responsibility initiatives, or hosting public forums to engage directly with your customers. “If you can do this well and do it often, if something happens and you’re forced into reactive mode, you’ve already got this great backbone to your narrative,” explains Bodi.
Nobody wants to plan for the worst, however if you do find yourself amidst a crisis, Bodi advises seeking professional guidance from a public relations firm. She also stresses the power of a public apology. “When done eloquently, with honesty and from the very top, an apology can often resolve an issue or fix a problem.”
With ninety-seven percent of people relying on online reviews about local businesses, one of the first steps to building your ORM strategy is to respond to these evaluations. “We recommend our clients actively reply to all reviews, whether they’re five-star or not,” says Dooley. “Especially the negative reviews. This is important. By doing so, you’re not necessarily addressing that one review, but addressing everyone who will come along afterwards and read it. Your potential customers want to see how you treat people, how you handle complaints, and how you manage errors or issues.”
Dooley offers advice for companies in early stages of ORM: “Statistics tell us that a large population are watching various screens for hours a day and doing an endless scroll. Companies that ignore that ignore it at their peril. There is opportunity here—make it work in your favour. If you listen and communicate well, you’ll be more profitable.”