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Reputations and PR
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Can corporate reputations be ruined by simple words? Surprisingly, the answer appears to be yes.

Ads recently have appeared on TV about a website and service that purports to be able to clean up negative or false information online about one’s business. The site claims to offer online reputation management and be backed by online reputation management experts. Not only does the site claim to help one protect sensitive private data, it also holds out that “their publishing team will create custom profiles and other content for you or your business to build a positive online presence, and our expert reputation advisors will work with you to push down or suppress any negative content that shows up high in your search results.”

DowJones also offers a service that purports to give companies an ability to perform online reputation management. Titled Factiva, the service claims to offer customizable searches, alerts by email or RSS, etc., much as does reputation.com.

This brings me to the PR application. As we all know, corporate reputations can be ruined by bad publicity. The BP disaster of a few years ago was compounded by its Chairman being perceived as more concerned about his golf game in Scotland rather than what was happening on the Gulf Coast of the United States, an ecological, financial, and business crisis of the highest magnitude. Suffice to say that particular BP Chairman soon lost his posting due to the bad publicity generated.

One of the most important things a good, savvy PR professional can do is help his or her company craft crisis communications plans. It appears to me that sites and services such as Factiva by DowJones and reputation.com (headquartered in Silicon Valley in California) can be precise ways to help with that.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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