Among the many other things, this pandemic has completely transformed how we shop for goods, with more and more people spending a bigger portion of our income shopping online. The dramatic upsurge in the net revenue of the eCommerce platforms, especially Amazon, serves as a perfect example of this. Simply put, for many online businesses, this has been the case.
If we look at it, we can clearly see how people are virtually living their lives online today. Need to buy something? Shop online. Want to connect with friends and family? Chat on social media platforms. Want to eat something? Order food online and get it delivered to your home! And the list goes on and on.
However, due to this drastic change and the digitally dominated world, brands’ online reputation has become more vital now than ever. That’s why it is crucial to make sure that businesses integrate online public relations in their reputation management strategy.
Nowadays, more than 90% of customers go through a business’ online reviews before making a purchasing decision, and the majority of them tend to trust a brand with positive reviews more. So, one thing is crystal-clear that today online reputation of businesses matters a great deal and all the more so now considering the ongoing pandemic when an increasing number of customers are shopping online spending more money than ever.
If truth be told, the conventional PR strategists were acutely slow to adjust to the changes taking place with how users research businesses. This has resulted in an incredible market opportunity for smart digital marketing professionals with finite experience in the public relations field. This has resulted in a lot of them declaring themselves to be adept in online reputation management, popularly known as ORM, which is kind of a big deal today. As a result, a brand new industry gradually emerged with the launch of brand new businesses a couple of years ago.
While the traditional PR agencies continued to maintain a consistent focus on the offline industry and circulating press releases, the newly established online reputation management agencies paid close attention to fill the market gap by functioning behind the scenes to enhance their respective clients’ online reputation. To do this, they positively modified the search results by diminishing the negative search engine results’ visibility. This comprised negative online reviews as well as the bad online press.
Some businesses operating in this field have indeed maintained high morality and ethical standards. But you will come across many organizations that don’t necessarily stick to even the basic PR code of ethics. And this has eventually put their clients’ reputations in jeopardy by making things dicey. At the end of the day, functioning in the “twilight zone” is pretty much like those black hat companies existing in the SEO industry. Such agencies usually try to trick clients with fake promises of immediate results instead of laying the groundwork essential to reach the origin of the real reputation issue their company is facing.
Here are some examples of these “black hat” tactics used by such ORM agencies:
- Writing fake positive reviews on multiple review websites in order to lower the visibility of bad reviews.
- Purchasing backlinks, which is an open violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
- Purchasing media mentions instead of earning them by making payments secretly.
- Making Wikipedia pages for their clients, which directly violates the Wikipedia Terms of Service.
- Publishing incorrect information on purpose.
As various ethical PR agencies have started realizing the complexities of online reputation management, they are increasingly taking a much more principled and positive approach to maintaining the online reputation of companies. This involves taking a lot more all-inclusive and durable approach that is viable.
Best Ways to Approach Online Reputation Management
Having discussed all the bogus tactics used by non-ethical ORM agencies, let us now look at the best ways to approach ORM.
- Discussing directly with the client to cure the root problems that are resulting in their company’s bad reputation.
- Forming an all-inclusive plan that helps bring about modifications in the company’s core principles that their consumers are currently criticizing.
- Replying to all positive and even negative reviews and mentions online in a polite manner.
- Using surveys to spot customers who have had a positive experience with the brand and encouraging them to share their experience with others online by offering them a reward like a discount or a gift coupon.
- Earning positive public relations by communicating your side of the story.
- Building positive relationships with customers by responding to their queries, comments or addressing their problems to make them feel heard.
Wrapping It Up
Running a business is more than just getting a store in a place that receives heavy foot traffic every day. With this pandemic, offline companies have increasingly gone online. But that’s not all it takes to get online success. From spreading the word about your brand to getting the customers to like you, it requires time, effort, and a good strategy for sure. Online reputation plays a significant role in helping your business become successful today. Make sure you are working with an ethical PR agency as working with a non-ethical one can backfire, as you saw earlier. Take your time to research to find a good agency and work closely with them to ensure you are on the right track. Remember, happy customers are the key to any business’ success. The better experience you offer, the more satisfied customers you will earn.