By Cyndi Miller, CEO of Miller Public Relations
“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” –Abraham Lincoln
Have you Googled or otherwise searched your company name lately? If not, you need to. We live simultaneously in a global and local marketplace where your online reputation can be your best asset or your worst liability.
Potential customers and employees are increasingly using their favorite search engines (especially Google) to make business and personal decisions. In fact, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2017: “Consumers are becoming more review-savvy, preferring businesses that receive high volumes of high-scoring reviews on a regular basis.”
Just what is reputation management? The definition is two-fold. Reputation involves the process of finding out what people say or feel about your business. Management is taking the necessary steps to influence positive perceptions of your business in line with your goals. The explosive growth of the Internet and social media—and the emergence of reputation management companies—has made search results a central part of a company’s reputation.
Our philosophy at Miller Public Relations is simple: “Your inside must match your outside.” Before we engage in external marketing, including reputation management, we have to be confident that everything we say about you is true. When you partner with us, the first thing we’ll want to do is meet you, see your business or practice, meet your team and be a “fly on the wall” for a little while. From there, we’ll make suggestions to help you facilitate successful relationships with all concerned audiences.
Here’s how we can help. 1. One of the first things we will need to do is audit your online presence to see what search results pop up. While the classic rule, “if it bleeds, it leads” may hold true to mainstream media, it does not have to be the case for your small or mid-sized business [practice].
Prospective clients or patients, even potential employees, may see an embittered review that you can’t erase from the first page of Google online search results, for example. Other dot.com sites we will examine and audit are Yahoo, Ask, Firefox, Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook and, for the medical industry, we add Healthgrades, WebMD, RateMds, ZocDoc, among others.
Examples of what we might find are a negative review from a dissatisfied client, disgruntled employee, local newspaper article or just bad press about your industry at large. But let’s not fuss so fast.
2. Part of our reputation management promise to you is the deployment of our expert team, one part PR master and the other part Digital guru, which will provide an online makeover to tackle the negativity. Often we can bury the negative search results by creating and promoting positive, timely content that aligns with your desired image. Regularly publishing fresh content with keywords on your Website and other online (and print) venues helps search engines to rank you higher in results. Since this happens over time, Miller Public Relations suggests generating positive high-quality content at least 2 times per month starting out. For instance, a glowing testimonial to your services. According to TMG Custom Media, 90% of consumers believe that companies producing custom content are interested in building long-term relationships with them.
If something negative pops up, naturally we would like to respond to it immediately to redirect the news and flow of information. In some cases, rather than push bad news or reviews down on search engines, we can pay a fee to permanently remove it. We want to give you maximum control over how people view you because, remember, we already know you!
3. Reputation management is not only responsive, it can and should be proactive. What we do here is create news. How? One way is to attach or piggyback your story to a national news headline. Let’s say a new economic study or statistical report came out about the medical industry. Great. We can use that context to create content and add your perspective, which helps paint you as a subject matter expert in your field. We can create seasonal news, too. Let’s say you’re an ophthalmologist. We can talk about dry eyes in winter and eyewear protection in summer. So many options for any industry. News also equals introducing a new technology, service or expert who has joined your team. Miller Public Relations has you covered in the good news department.
The quality of service or care you provide your clients or patients is A-number-1. And you are constantly improving skills in your specialty just as we are.
Here’s a closing thought. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, on average, more than 25% of a company’s market value is directly attributable to its reputation. So, it makes dollars and common sense to invest in a reputation management strategy. We are here when you want to talk!
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