82% of consumers research a brand’s values before making a purchase. Moreover, 95% of consumers read online reviews before buying something from the internet. Hence, it is clear that your digital identity or online reputation can make or break your business. This is why online reputation management is essential for every business. And it is especially so during a crisis because negative publicity spreads like wildfire in today’s digital age.
A business crisis is any event that can negatively impact your company. Such events can arise in any business department, be it finances, reputation, staff, etc. Some examples of a crisis include the following:
· Product recalls:
Product recalls due to faulty manufacturing or quality issues can lead to a crisis. Consider the example of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder recall. The company had to recall 33,000 baby powder bottles in October 2019 due to the presence of a small amount of asbestos.
· Security threats:
Both physical and virtual security threats can lead to reputation crises for a business. Examples include security breaches in your office building, cyber-attacks, etc.
· Customer incidents:
Poor customer experiences or negative interactions leading to personal damage or injury to consumers could be a major crisis for businesses. It also includes poor customer feedback and online reviews or negative articles about your brand online.
· Environmental problems:
Natural disasters, chemical releases, fires, or non-sustainable business operations can all be a cause of crises.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the practice of monitoring and influencing an individual or business’s online presence. This includes managing online communications, monitoring social media accounts, and responding to positive and negative reviews.
ORM in digital marketing involves awareness of any crisis and maintaining positive public conversations about your brand across all digital channels. You can monitor and manage your brand’s online reputation across various platforms where people can talk about your brand, ensure your customers get updated information, and promptly respond to customer queries and concerns.
A major branch of online reputation management also includes crisis communication. This is the strategy brands use to preserve and boost their public perception during a crisis.
ORM can help a brand shape the public’s perception of it and protect its reputation. ORM can also help improve customer service, allowing businesses to respond quickly to customer feedback and address any issues that may arise.
This is essential to prevent a business from incurring massive losses. Even a single negative article about your brand on the first page of search results can lead to up to a 22% loss of revenue. The numbers can double-fold if there are two or more negative articles.
There are many ways to manage your online reputation for crisis management.
· Step back and assess the damage:
While it can be tempting to hit back at the crisis with full strength, it is only wise to first step back and evaluate the damage. Assessing the damage will give you better insights into the measures you can take for crisis mitigation.
· Push out more positive press:
Positive press is an excellent way to manage online reputation and mitigate negative publicity. However, the brand voice in the press needs to differ as per the situation.
For example, if the crisis was your mistake, it is best to acknowledge it and apologize. But in scenarios where your brand is not at fault, issue a formal but un-defensive denial.
Regardless of the reason, you will need to push out multiple positive press articles for better public relations. If the consumers read your story in their trusted publications, they are more likely to understand the reasoning behind the crisis.
· Address people’s concerns:
It can be hard to face people during an ongoing crisis. However, hiding or ignoring the questions won’t make them go away. Hence, you should get in front of your audience and answer their questions.
· Partner with influencers:
Collaborate with influencers who understand your niche. A popular influencer vouching for your side can go a long way. They would be able to convey to your audience the cause of the crisis, your stand on this, and how you are working to manage it.
While all of these strategies are vital, the most important thing to do is be proactive rather than reactive in your approach to online reputation management. It is best to make your brand so reputable that some small crises don’t shape your brand’s public image.
You can consider the same example as above of Johnson & Johnson. The company has witnessed many crises, from product recalls to lawsuits. However, it has always stayed keen on online reputation management and maintained a positive public perception.
Crises are a part of every business’s journey. Hence, developing and implementing an effective online reputation management strategy should be a part of every business’s PR plan. However, this means investing considerable time and effort and having a dedicated in-house team. This can be challenging for many businesses, especially the smaller ones.
This is why most brands prefer outsourcing their requirements to a professional ORM agency like Digital Nod. We have the expertise and resources required for proactive online reputation management. Contact us today, and let us help you build a fool-proof ORM strategy.