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 A Smarter Way to Protect Your Company’s Reputation

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

By Christopher Elliott

You probably already know the value of managing your company’s reputation.

But just in case you don’t, here are a few points to ponder:

* BP’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is a classic case of a company in dire need of a managed reputation. Yeah, it tried buying adwords on Google after the incident, but it was too little, too late. By then, BP’s name had already become a punchline, and it will probably always be synonymous with a disastrous gusher, linked forever like Exxon and Valdez.
* Remember United Breaks Guitars, the video I showed you last week? That rep management slip-up reportedly cost it $185 million. Had it managed the crisis better, it might have lost far less.
* Last month, a video of GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe made the rounds online. You’d think someone as Internet-savvy as Parsons would try to avert the damage with a sophisticated rep management campaign. Instead, he suggested his critics were clueless, even after calls for a boycott against the domain name registration company. “GoDaddy lost customers after that,” says Kent Lewis, president of Anvil Media. “I was on an email list of Internet pundits, where the major discussion was who offered the best alternative to GoDaddy for hosting. They all left.”

Saving money and face are great reasons to manage your reputation, of course. But experts say that’s not good enough.

Customers Demand It

Do it for your customers.

“Reputation management, and reputation management firms, are largely tasked with disaster cleanup,” says Scott McAndrew of the digital marketing firm Terralever. “They come in when things are bad, and, in many cases, use tactics that hide what’s bad, and try to court what’s good.”

But rep management like that is the rough equivalent of treating the symptom without looking for a cure. It’s crisis PR plus.

How Protecting Your Reputation Improves Customer Service, and Vice Versa

“Even the best reputation management can’t hide a business that is truly lousy in customer service and their are simply too many other choices out there then to buy from a business that does not value you,” says Marc Karasu, founder of the customer-service site MeasuredUp.

Reputation management can drive better customer service, though.

Instead of rebranding themselves whenever there’s a reputation problem, companies should try to use the tools of rep management to determine where customer service problems are — and fix them.

Yesterday, I covered one company’s bold plan to embrace the bad reviews it gets. What if negative reviews could be incorporated into a more comprehensive reputation management program?

Read the rest of the article here

 Leveraging customer review to manage your reputation online

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Undoubtedly, no single thing matters as much for increasing sales and engendering loyalty as building a great customer service brand. And considering the immediate and ubiquitous nature of the Internet—where details about a negative customer experience can spread like wildfire—it’s more important than ever for small business owners to join the conversation online and help to manage their company’s reputation.

Whether you like it or not, consumers are most likely talking about your business on the Internet. And if you’ve recently heard about a customer service problem at your business, it’s likely that you became aware of the situation in the same way that most consumers do: by finding a review about your company via a search engine.

So how can you be proactive about managing your reputation online? Let’s look at two ways:


Increase the number of online reviews about your company. You can begin this process by asking your top customers to post a review about your business on customer review sites such as and By asking your top customers to post reviews, you’ll likely generate a number of complimentary reviews quickly and easily. These reviews will help to offset any existing negative reviews, help to increase your visibility on search engines, and help to attract potential customers who are searching for your products or services online.

When you come across a complimentary review about your business, you should add a quick “Thank You” in response, and mention that you appreciate the support of your customers.

Respond to negative online reviews about your company. You can tackle this effort by having a staff member—who understands your company culture and brand—spend a few hours each week searching the Internet for unflattering reviews about your company. (Note: There are online tools available that can help you accomplish this.)

When there’s a comment field available in a review, the staff member should respond with some helpful and constructive content that shows that you care about providing good customer service. In addition, they should state that they are an employee of the company. The respondent should never pretend to be a consumer, because that deception will likely be discovered, and will likely produce even more uncomplimentary content.

The employee should also include a link to your website in the response, which can help to drive traffic back to your website.

The goal here is not to have only good reviews, because even some of the best companies have bad reviews written about them. The goal is to achieve an effective balance, and to make sure that you don’t allow uncontrolled rumors to spread online. You also want to demonstrate through association that your brand is focused on good customer service . . . and that you’ll take steps to improve it when you fall short.

By leveraging online reviews about your company in your favor, you can often have a greater impact on the purchasing intent of consumers—who are deciding what to buy and where to buy it—than even the best TV commercial or magazine ad can have.

Read the article here:

 How Small Businesses can build their Online Reputation

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Times are tough and the economy is not helping small businesses.  Yes their are spending bills and loan programs etc but the real backbone of any small business is or at least should be great customer service.

After all, it’s the one thing you can do better then the big guys and it costs you nothing right?  So why don’t more small businesses do more to build up their customer service reputation?  That is, beyond the obligatory thanks and “Nice to see you, come back again soon, hear”

What I am getting at is why don’t more small business owners better harness and utilize the internet and search to help drive business, take business away from bigger competitors and build consumer loyalty.  Well, that’s easy,  many small business owners  just really don’t understand the internet and search and are scared to learn.  But really, is that a good excuse?

If their is one thing you do for your small business advertising and brand it is that you should learn how to leverage the internet and search to build and promote your customer service, manage your online reputation and drive leads and sales.  It’s just too easy and effective to ignore.  Sites like and Yelp and Angies list and many others allow you for the first time to actually compete on an even footing with the big box stores.  Yes, you heard me right.

Think about it.

Most consumers today start a purchase with research on the internet.  Even if they are just looking for the address of that big box store or a coupon for they are “Searching”  on Google or another search engine and this is your opportunity to intercept them with your business and products.  Entice them to deviate and come on by.   Motivate them to try you instead of them.

You could not compete with the advertising budgets of the big stores.  The newspaper ads, the tv commercials, the billboards.  But now you have a means to interact with potential customers at the exactly the moment that they are researching a purchase.  And you can do it for Free or almost free as effectively as the big guys.  Really, what more could you ask for.  The internet has truly leveled the playing field when it comes to small business marketing and local advertising.  For a few dollars a day and maybe an hour a week you can mount an online offensive that will keep your business front and center for online shoppers, researchers and browsers who are looking for your core products and services.

You can start to really develop a customer loyalty, following and customer service brand.  This is called your online reputation.

To start building your online reputation go to and do a search for your business name, the core products you sell and the general category you are in.  Look at the Organic search (free) results.  Look at the paid ads on the top and the right of the search results page.  See what your competition is marketing, the prices and what they are saying.

Now think about your business.  The products that you feature, the prices, and the customers.  Find where your competitors are weak.  Is it the hours? The location? The prices?  The selection? Or the simple fact they are big and impersonal and you are small and local.

Spend the time to figure out your brands real positioning and value proposition.  All this means is “what is it that you do better then anyone else”.

Now, go to, Yelp and Angies list and write a review about your business.  Be honest that you are the proprieter.  Readers dont like to be misled and can spot a phony review.  Be clear about your business and your value proposition.  Share a promotion or sale.  Talk up your free parking, selection and most important, your hometown and great customer service.  If you do not have good customer service then this is your time to get focused on it and make it a business priority and investment.  If you already have a good customer service reputation and online reviews then great.  Your job is never done.  Write more.  Have your customers write more.

The point is that the more sites you write a free review about your business on the more good reviews their are about your business online and the more likely that a potential customer comes upon your review in their search and comes on by to give you a try.

It’s free advertising.  It’s targeted.  It works.

If you really want to go the extra bit then tell your best customers to go on to write a review about your business.  Again, the idea is that the more good, honest reviews about your business online the better.

Their are many other ways to market your business online from Google adwords to banners to PR and social media but until you take advantage of the Free online reputation management tools you should not bother with the others.  Your Customer Service reputation is your Online Reputation and the good reviews shoppers read about your customer service and business when they search online will build your brand, drive leads and increase sales.

 Importance of Online Customer Service and Reputation Management

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Read entire article:

Whether you are at an established company or at a startup the pressure on you as a marketer to deliver is immense.  To make matters more challenging it is likely that your marketing budget has been cut.  Every dollar you spend is questioned for ROI and in most meetings you are asked about developments in social networking, customer service and online reputation management because it is in the press and tantalizingly promises high return at low cost.

Whatever category your business is in, online customer service and reputation management are marketing tactics you should be employing that compliment almost any brand at very little cost.

Customer Service

In today’s economy no single thing matters as much for your sales and loyalty as building a great customer service brand.  This is an area of marketing often overlooked or muddled with expensive and hard to use tools.   If you are even aware of your customer service problem it is likely you first came across it the way most consumers do by finding a review about your company online on a search engine.

Online reviews are here to stay and many current and potential customers use internet search engines to help guide their online research in deciding where to buy.  You can leverage the world of online consumer reviews in your favor and often have more impact on thousands of active consumers’ purchasing intent then the best TV commercial.

Whether you have a large customer service department or none at all, already have a good customer service reputation or need to build one, many new online customer service tools exist today that are often free or low cost.

What You Can Do Now to Improve Customer Service and Reputation

Start asking your top customers to review you on customer service sites like or  By confidently asking top customers for customer service reviews you will have dozens of complimentary reviews of your company online in no time.   These will negate most bad reviews, increase your ranking on search engines and help interested potential customers to find and trust you when researching online.  The goal is not to have only good reviews as even the best companies have some bad reviews about them online.  The goal is to have a balance and to demonstrate through association that your brand is focused on improving customer service.

Online Comments

Individuals are talking about you on the Internet whether you like it or not.  On thousands of personal sites, as well as Facebook and Twitter, content that mentions you or a competitor is constantly being added.  You need to join this conversation even if you can’t control it.

What You Can Do Now to Respond to Online Comments

Identify a person on your staff to spend about 5 hours a week searching for unflattering reviews or mentions about your company or articles about something that is relevant to your business.  When there is a comment field have them write some intelligent and helpful content in response.  State that they are an employee of the company and include a URL to your site.  Do not try and pretend to be a consumer as this will likely be found out and create further uncomplimentary content.  This effort will help rebut negative views, show your company cares about its reputation and will help drive traffic to your company website.  If you come across compliments add on a quick “Thank You” comment and that you care about your reputation and appreciate the support of customers.

This tactic is focused totally on trolling Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to “invite” connections with current and potential customers.  This is a hard position to measure effectiveness on but you have to consider this proactive marketing.  The opportunity cost saved is that you don’t have uncontrolled rumors online.  Many PR firms are starting to offer this service but the fact is they don’t really get it and won’t be able to react as quickly as someone in your company culture who understands your brand.

With these two easy and inexpensive marketing tactics you can quickly augment your existing marketing efforts and start to raise your company’s social media presence, customer service and online profile while helping increase sales and build online reputation.

These tactics should be factored into your budget as the cost of doing business if you want to compete in today’s interconnected digital world.

About the author: Marc Karasu is a senior marketing executive and digital marketing expert with 20 years experience.  He is also the founder of, the leader in online customer service and reputation management. He can be reached at or his marketing consulting website

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 Study Finds Marketers Embracing Social Media Marketing In A Big Way

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

By Robin Wauters


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Integrated marketing services provider Alteriantoday released the results of their seventh annual survey on social media marketing adoption.

The survey covered 1068 marketing professionals worldwide (actually, it was 98% North America and Europe and only 2% Asia Pacific and other regions).

Alterian found that 66 percent of respondents will be investing in social media marketing (SMM) in 2010. Of those, 40 percent said they would be shifting more than a fifth of their traditional direct marketing budget towards funding their SMM activities.

Read the article here:

 L.L.Bean Still Tops In Customer Service

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

From article in Mediapost. By Sarah Mahoney

Customers of L.L. Bean aren’t just wearing their duck boots, they’re feeling the love.

The Freeport, Maine-based retailer once again landed in the No. 1 spot in the National Retail Federation/American Express Customers’ Choice survey, followed by, and (All four ranked in precisely the same order as last year’s survey.)

QVC jumped into No. 5, followed by Coldwater Creek; HSN; Lands’ End, a division of Sears, and JCPenney. Nordstrom and Kohl’s tied for the 10th spot.

Read the article here:

 2010: The Year Social Marketing Gets Serious

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

By Laurie Sullivan from Mediapost

Marketers will need to start justifying social marketing plans with business cases, objectives and metrics, as the medium moves out of the test phase. In 2009, marketers could brag they had a Facebook fan page or Twitter account, but analysts predict that social media will become a strategic part of marketing efforts next year.

Forrester Research released a list Monday of social computing prediction for 2010. The report suggests that companies that create social councils — cross-functional teams aimed at sharing ideas about social media — will begin to get serious about budgets and structure for these groups. Expect the teams to become strategists. Efforts will likely include policies.

The report also suggests that an increasing number of marketers will adopt listening platforms to monitor social media, Twitter will become more profitable or get acquired, Facebook will take a hands-on approach to protecting members, and incompatible mobile devices in siloed application will shatter the social experience.

Forrester Analyst Augie Ray says in 2010, those who hold the purse strings for budgets will want to see results. “It’s the year social marketing gets serious,” he says.

But rather than knowing how to set up a fan page on Facebook or gain a following on Twitter, marketers must realize that it requires more than recognizing the importance of social media.

Read the rest of the article here:

 Twitter Lawsuit, What Should Business Learn?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Article from PC world about how companies should handle customer service issues and how suing could backfire and make the company look worse.

From Tech inciter. By David Coursey

Horizon Group Management has probably by now figured out that suing a tenant over an uncomplimentary tweet was probably not the best course. If the company had been worried that a tweet about a supposedly moldy apartment would damage its reputation, it has certainly magnified that effect probably millions of times.

Forgive me if, should I move to Chicago, I choose not to rent from a company that describes itself as a “sue first and ask questions later kind of an organization” as though it is a virtue. Moldy apartment or not.

What should businesses learn from this incident?

Read entire article.

 How You Can Stay in Control of Your Brand’s Reputation

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Even If You’ve Done Nothing Wrong, One Nasty Complaint Can Taint Your Name

by Keith Goldberg 


My initiation into reputation management took place during fourth grade in Mr. Timberlake’s class. For some reason, long since forgotten, I wound up in a scuffle with another boy and, though I don’t believe I instigated the dust-up, Mr. Timberlake wasted no time in grabbing me by the neck (I remember that clearly) and marching me down to the principal’s office.

As I sat in the seat of shame outside of Mr. Stern’s office (what a perfect name for a principal, don’t you think?) the teachers and students who paraded by me cast cold eyes that betrayed their thoughts. “Hmm … the Goldberg kid, thought he was all right but I guess he’s a troublemaker.” By the next day, news of my predicament had spread like wildfire throughout the school.

But I didn’t start it! It wasn’t my fault!

Too bad.

Fast-forward more years than I’d like to admit, and, as a CMO of a major brand, I was so proud of how we were optimizing our search results — especially given the money we were spending. Then, one morning, I logged onto my Mac and was stunned.

There on Google, sitting solidly in the fourth position — right below three killer, above-the-fold search listings for my brand — was a listing titled “customer complaints.” Customer complaints about my company.



Keith Goldberg is senior VP-client strategy at EWI Worldwide. He was previously leader of creative and innovation for George P. Johnson Experience Marketing and senior VP-CMO, GMAC Direct.

I quickly clicked. The list of complaints were unsubstantiated, even comical, and the company they were blasting didn’t sound at all like us. But there was our name, plain as day. Were these really unhappy customers? Was this a sabotage campaign from a competitor? I didn’t know. It didn’t matter.


The most frustrating partI kept thinking about the dollars we spent to optimize traffic to our website. I couldn’t believe we had worked so hard to attract thousands of eyeballs and now, when we should be connecting with and converting this treasure trove of customers, a rogue listing was going to raise a red flag to each and every one of them. The most frustrating part was, given human nature, I knew exactly where the vast number of viewers would click first. Argh!

I also knew that if there was a way to measure the amount of marketing dollars wasted, goodwill squandered and customers lost by this negative word-of-mouth, the numbers would be staggering. That was the day I became a believer in reputation management.

Today, when I deploy a reputation-management protocol for clients, it is usually a four-part program (as outlined by the chart below) that begins by analyzing a brand’s true reputation in the marketplace, identifying what reputation mode the brand is in (build, maintain, repair), deploying the appropriate tools to achieve the objective and evaluating success to optimize methods moving forward.

The other key ingredient is vigilance.

In this back-to-the-future, word-of-mouth world made possible by the internet, it only takes one incident to ruin a reputation.

Even if you didn’t do it. Even if it’s not your fault. Too bad.

I learned that the hard way back in the fourth grade.


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