Pubcon live blogging: Brand and Reputation Management

Moderator: Joe Laratro

Speakers:

Tony Wright, CEO/Founder, WrightIMC

David Naffziger, President & CEO, BrandVerity, Inc.

Krista Neher, CEO, Marketess

Rhea Drysdale, Co-founder and COO, Outspoken Media

Up First: Krista Neher

6 years with Proctor and Gamble, Krista has a traditional marketing background, and is now running a social media and modern marketing company.
A brand is both logical and emotional. It’s more important what your audience feels about your brand, than you. A clip from Tina Fey at the … golden globes, Oscar, she won an Oscar? That can’t be right – she was being hilarious of course, taking her acceptance speech as an opportunity to tell some specific internet bashers of her personal brand, to suck it.

So why does a brand matter? It could be argued that it matters more than ever. A personal brand is also important, 77 percent of ppl google you if you’re applying for a job, and if you have a regular brand, people are going to look it up on the internet. Proliferation of UGC is bad unless you’re good. Obviously. This is why were here. Now how do we manage it?

  • Create an online presence – branded content, authority sites that rank well. I guess she means get your brand ON authority sites, as they’ll have a better chance of ranking.
  • Reserve your brand name, even on sites you don’t use. We wouldn’t want to see @nike on twitter acting the fool (the real nike does that in spades already).
  • Provide resources: if ppl want to talk to you, give them the opportunity.

Use tools: naymz.com, rapleaf, repvine, reputationdefender.com, trustplus.com – these are all tools or services that help you monitor your brand (i think), and places you’re likely to be mentioned.

Start with search. Start hitting google up for your brand, find all of the mentions, good and bad, catalogue them (okay this is my advice now), take each negative instance and build a battle plan for how to deal with it. Okay she’s not talking about that, but that’s what you should do. Is it an individual blogger? Get their home phone number. Is it a newspaper? Find out the journalists name… I’m getting off topic (by staying surprisingly on topic!). She’s using ‘banadiu toy recall’ as an example. I think I spelled that brand name wrong. That’s a sign of a bad brand name.

Monitor sentiment. More than the fact that people are talking about your brand, what is the overall feel of what they’re saying? Some tools classify reviews as positive, negative or neutral. This is a step towards quantifying reputation management. Chatterguard.com and a few other tools exist for this. Sentimentmetrics.com

Respond – this is where most companies fail. Okay, so ppl are talking about you, what are you gonna do about it? How do you change peoples minds, how do you influence people? Respond to POSITIVE comments along with negative. Build some brand advocates – if someone said you suck, you want real people to defend your brand – you gain those ppl by responding to positive comments. Negative comments are very difficult to respond to – don’t censor people, don’t oppress, convey a clear, gentle and friendly image. Respond directly to the complainer.

Tips for dealing with negativity

  • humanize your brand – it’s hard to hate an individual who you can see is passionate about their job. It’s easy to hate a brand, much harder to hate a person
  • thank people for their interest in your brand – passionate negative people could become passionate positive people
  • be transparent and explain – a friendly explanation can help.
  • empathize – understanding without agreeing (I would argue that that is fake empathy, empathy would be feeling what they feel)
  • build a community of advocates
  • know when to disengage – don’t go into a huge thread that disintegrates to an argument

Tony Wright is up next
Your brand must have a plan. Be prepared!

  • Who should be involved
  • what you should consider
  • brainstorming the worst case scenario
  • what will your employees do
  • how will you evaluate a criss
  • how will you quantify success

Having a plan helps save money, save time, save stress when things go awry.

Who should be involved?

  • marketing
  • IT department – some people don’t realize this, but servers do crash people.
  • upper management
  • crisis consultants
  • HR – employee response is inevitable
  • representatives from teh rank and file (that teh was intentional by the way, it was a shout out to the rank and file)
  • unions if applicable

What to consider?

  • online and offline – pay more attention to online, it’s harder to control, contain, etc. traditional PR can help with offline, but online is the flash-point real-time
  • monitoring – you must monitor your brand at all times, he likes trakur (I think that’s the spelling)
  • mock scenarios – how will you handle each, think worst case scenarios. Even though you may not spec out the scenario that actually occurs, it’s still a useful exercise. Because of this, don’t be too specific in your mock-ups, be general
  • technical execution of responses – who is responsible for doing the talking, the CEO, the marketing team? if it’s policy, there’s no confusion.
  • response responsibility – knowing when to respond and what types of things you’re going to respond to

Brainstroming the worse-case scenario for these types of problems:

  • physical disasters
  • financial disasters
  • ethics disasters
  • false rumors

What will your employees do?

  • internal comm is paramount in all crissi communication
  • policies must be laid out in advance to advise employees how they can respond in a crisis – to media, public, etc
  • employee reps should be in on the plan, so they don’t become rogue responders
  • honesty and accountability are the best policies with employees and vendors

(this guy is so pro, if anyone ever launches naoisesucks.com, I’m-a-hirin’ him!)

Crisis evaluation – what is a crisis to the CEO may not really be a crisis. Evaluate based on:

  • 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?

He’s basically saying, don’t worry about joe-blow’s blog, worry about newspaper mentions, real media, etc. Choose your battles.
The only way you can get shit off of the mafia-like site, ripoffreport, is to payoff … seriously.

How to quantify success?

  • when is a crisis over? sometimes it’s not obvious
  • continue monitoring
  • never kneejerk!

Next up Rhea Drysdale
Do as I say not as I do – with respect to ‘outspokenmedia’… I couldn’t agree more. Rhea is here to talk about personal branding.

Why should you care?

  • Seeking new employment
  • attracting potential clients
  • getting laid (did she really just say that? … no actually, but trust me)
  • reflection of current company
  • first stop for media
  • blind dates (okay she actually said that)

Basic tracking tools, google (baseline – by that I assume she means your name SERP), find the negatives and the positives, try to SEO the positives above the negatives. Search.twitter, you can kind of track positives and negatives, but it doesn’t work that well, sarcasm screws it up.
Google alerts, backtype, yacktrack (chatter), socialmention, q and a searches, OMGILI – all of these are free brand reputation monitoring tools.
Paid things: reptuation defender, trackur, distilled.co.uk (I thought they were an seo firm, perhaps it’s a package), radian 6 (very expensive, it’s for real companies)
No problem with your brand? Plan for one. Secure your name (this was mentioned earlier, own your name on every platform) – checkusernames.com (developed by @streko, @itcn, @graywolf

Build up your profiles – on twitter the impact is immediate, but only if its well used account, make sure your linkedin profile is up to snuff (she mentioned free dofollow links from linkedin), she mentioned a few more, flickr, friendfeed etc – basically building up profiles on authority sites like these gives you the opportunity to dominate the SERPs for your brand name (this is what the real point is I think, more implied that stated, so I just stated it), Knol is the same deal, build your profile. Crunchbase, okay now she just posted a really big list. Speaker bios, guest author profiles, interviews, subdomains (she didn’t get into it, but it offers more SERP dominationability), charitable donations, personal blogs

To accomplish the goal of ensuring your positive profiles etc, be sure to link to it when you’re publishing things online. Don’t link to a company homepage, create an exit strategy. if you switch jobs, what’s going to happen to your profile page?
The easier it is for someone to contact you, the less likely you are to get bad mentions published online.

Next up, David Naffzigger, on the dark side of rep management

Brand abuse online. Don’t just own your .com, own the obvious misspellings of your brand. Virgin mobile is a good example.

  • generate a big list of domains
  • check list for what matters
  • go get ‘em

Find brand extensions – do this by using keyword research tools to see what other people are searching for in concert with your name/brand. Virgin atlantic is the example used. Virgin should own virginatlanticphone.com and about a million others. International registrations.

good indicators of traffic: adwords keyword tool, keywordtracker, these will show you other words ppl are using with your brand. Buy adwords for these things and for typos.

If someone has squatted your domain, use UDRP, uniform domain resolution process. Prove you have a brand. The anti-cybersquatting protection act (ACPA) in the USA, this can let you get up to 100K in damages. Verizon recently won an award of $30 million against a typosquatter.

Spam and Adware

These modes may be used to sell your products, sell your competitors products, or knockoffs. They may contain legal liability for the brand owner, including false advertising claims, CAN SPAM compliance, adware consent, etc.

Catching spam and adware abuse is hard – it requires special tools. For spam and CAN SPAM, use lashback

Affiliates can do the same damage, even buying Adwords for your brand name or strange variations of it (macystore).

Low on time for a Q&A

Q: How should an industry (as opposed to a brand), handle reputation management?

A: There needs to be some sort of leadership in the industry. Form a coalition to spearhead reputation management initiatives. This is particularly hard in an industry without standards, like SEO.

Q: what’s the risk of taking on the reputation problems of clients you do rep-management for?

A: be careful. if you’re using your real profile, your real self to defend someone else’s reputation, you certainly can get tied to it. I guess the advice is, do rep-management incognito. Rhea said she often turns down people for rep management, especially if they’re just plain liars.

Transparency from the client is key – if they lie to you, fire them.