Brand and Reputation Management

March 11, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

It’s time to talk brands and Joe Laratro is moderating a very pretty panel including, Tony Wright, David Naffziger, Krista Neher, and of course, my personal favorite, Rhea Drysdale. Team Rhea. Oh, and, um, all the other speakers too. [Go Rhea!]

Krista is up first. Hi, Krista!

Like it or not, you have a brand.  And your brand is in the eyes of the customer. It’s both logical and emotional. It doesn’t matter what you think your brand is, it matters what your customers think it is.

Why does your brand matter? There’s the Internet where all these people are saying horrible things about you. [and you should tell them all to suck it!]

It matters because people are using the search engines to find recommendations. Recruitors are using it to find applicants. From a corporate perspective,  61 percent look for consumer opinions posted online.  You need to know what’s showing up for your brand when people are searching for it online and know how to control it.

The Internet Changed Branding

  • Pre-Internet: brands controlled the message. One way communication.
  • Internet: Everyone has a voice. They’re all talking about you and building your brand.

Three Steps to Online Reputation Management

Manage Your Brand:

Create an Online Presence: Create your own branded content. Use authority sites that rank well. It’ll give people a better chance of finding YOUR stuff when they’re searching.

Reserve your Name: Get your user name on all social sites, even if you don’t plan on using it. You never know which site will become the next Twitter.

Provide Resources: If people want to talk about you, provide them with resources – photos, vidoes, etc.

Manage Tools:

Online Reputation Tools:

  • RepVine

Brand Monitoring

  • Google: Start with search. For your brand, terms associated with your brand.
  • MonitorThis

Monitor Sentiment


Are you changing sentiment? It’s not about how many people are talking about you. There are also tools that will classify reviews as positive, negative or neutral.

Once you found the people talking about you, you need to engage and respond.


To Positive Comments & Review: Show others that you care. Build  a tribe of passionate users, they will defend your brand for you.

To Negative Comments: Don’t oppose or try to censor people. Convey a clear, gentle, and friendly image. Respond directly to the issues so that whomever reads the complains also reads the positive reviews.

Six Tips for Dealing With Negativity

  1. Humanize your Brand: It’s easier to hate a company than a person.
  2. Thank them for their interest: passion can be turned around.  Any interest has value. Show openness in dealing with the complaint or issue.
  3. Be Transparent and Explain: Often a friendly explanation can help. Don’t oppress.
  4. Empathize: Understand without agreeing.
  5. Guild a Community of Advocates: Having others speak highly of you goes a long way.
  6. Know when to disengage: Sometimes you can’t win. Like when you’re Robert Scoble on this blog. Kidding! ;)

Up next is Tony Wright.

Your brand must have a plan.

  • Who should be involved?
  • What you should consider.
  • Brainstorming the worst case scenario
  • What will your employees do?
  • How will you evaluate a crisis?
  • How will you quantify success?

Creating Your Plan: Who Should Be Involved

  • Marketing: They’re the foot soldiers.
  • IT: The minute a crisis breaks and your server crashes, you’re in trouble. When 9/11 happened, the American Airlines site crashed. They needed to re-route things ASAP.
  • Upper Management: If people feel they have input, then you’ll have buy in.
  • Crisis Consultants: Having someone who understands the landscape of what’s going on and understands what can happen, is incredibly valuable. You need someone like that in house.
  • HR:   They have to be involved.
  • Representatives from the rank and file: If they know what’s going on, they’re less likely to go rogue and do something stupid.
  • Unions: Need buy in on negotiations.

What to Consider:

  • Online and offline:  Pay more attention to online, it’s harder.
  • Monitoring : You must monitor your brand at all times.
  • Mock scenarios: How will you handle each? Think worst case scenarios.
  • Technical execution of responses
  • Respond Responsibly

Brainstorming Worst Case Scenario

Ideally, your mock worst case scenario will have elements of all aspects involved. Use the worse case scenario as as template for the plan. Develop several based on different criteria, such as phsyical disasters, financial disasters, ethics disastercs, etc.

What will your employees do?

Internal communications is paramount in all crisis communication. Policies must be laid out in advance to advise employees on how they can respond in a crisis.

Employee representatives should be in on the planning to have “ownership” of the plan — especially when Union is involved. Honesty and accountability are the best policies with employees and vendors.

Crisis Evaluation

  • What is a crisis to the CEO may not be a crisis. Look at the following factors:
  • Potential reach of crisis
  • Potential revenue loss from crisis
  • Is it a game changer? Is this going to alter your business?
  • Viral likelihood? Will this continue to haunt the company for years to come?

Tony threatens to punch anyone involved with RipOff Report in the face. Hee.

Next up is Rhea. GO RHEA!

Why should you care?

  • You’ll be seeking new employment
  • Attracting potential clients
  • Reflection of current company [Rhea calls me out for my knee socks site. It’s not a fetish!]
  • First stop for media
  • Blind dates

Basic Tracking Tools

  • Google  (baseline)
  • Google Alerts
  • Search.Twitter: You can track times and negatives or positives.
  • Backtype
  • YackTrack
  • SocialMention
  • Q&A searches

Advanced Tracking Tools

  • Reputation Defender – $
  • Trackur – $$
  • – $$
  • Radian 6 – $$$

Secure Your Name Goes through and gets your name across all the different profiles.

Build Your Profiles:

  • Twitter: The caveat on that is that it won’t show up if you have three friends. The more people you connect with, the more likely you are to get crawled. Create a power account.
  • LinkedIn: The most amazing thing about LinkedIn is the Web sites section.  You can define your own anchor text and it’s a followed link.
  • Naymz: Pops up really quick and fades back down.
  • Facebook: They rank well.
  • MySpace: Rhea shows John McCain on MySpace
  • FriendFeed
  • Flickr: Be careful when posting things.
  • Wikipedia
  • Knol
  • Crunchbase

More places: Spoke, Classmates, BlogCatalog, BusinessWeek, BrightKite, MyBlogLog, Yelp, MyBlogLog, Amazon, Wink, Yahoo Pages

Other places: Speaker bios, guest author profiles, interviews, subdomains, charitable donations, personal blogs, company bios.

Former Employer/Organization


  • Link to YOUR content
  • Link to company bio
  • Don’t link to company home page
  • Create an exit strategy


  • Disable back links to company profiles
  • Increase back links to you

Personal Struggles


  • Understand TOS
  • Default to Private
  • Accessible & accurate contact info


  • Remove or make private
  • Disable back links
  • Contact site owners.

Authority Struggles


  • Own YOUR content
  • Promote your content
  • Copyright your content


  • Cross link your content (grow neighborhood)
  • Disable back links
  • Build back links



  • Be consistent with your name
  • Link building strategy
  • Social media strategy


  • Ask site owners
  • One up ’em

Valid Complaints


  • Visible & accurate contact info
  • Follow up quickly and listen
  • Give them what they need


  • Monitor and respond to every complaint
  • Address the issue publicly
  • Customer service sites

False Complaints


  • Be transparent
  • Be readily available
  • Be gracious


  • Contact the owner politely
  • Contact the owner legally

Haters & Crazies


  • Set up rules of engagement
  • Understand the community
  • Monitor escalation
  • Own negatives  [Your Name Sucks]


  • Pay for link removal?
  • Get creative

David is up next.

Common Forms of Brand Abuse

The Brand Owners Approach

  • Generate a list of domains
  • Check the list of which ones matter
  • Get them back

Domain Tools has a great tool to find typos.

Find Brand extension.  Your personal brand is known for something and that may get search traffic.  David calls me out as someone who has a personal brand associated with things and I suddenly got shy.  Fail.

Find International Registrations

Who Has Traffic?

  • AdWords Keyword Tool: Input both the full domain and just the stem and check scores.
  • KeywordTracker: Same as above.
  • Registration Date: Older registrations are more likely to have traffic.
  • Buy AdWords for every typo in question.

Get the Domain Back

Uniform Domain Resolution Process: Quick, inexpensive. Can take 30 days to get domain back and cost several thousands.

Anti-Cybersquatting Protection Act: Us-based law that allows for up to 100k in damanges.

Spam and AdWare

Utilize to sell your products, your competitor’s products or knockoffs.

May contain legal liability for the brand owner. Fake advertising claims, CANSPAM compliance, adWare consent

Methods of Abuse

How they hide from you:

  • Reverse geo-targeting
  • Day-parting
  • Copy your ad text.

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