Business marketing excels with Reputation Managers

Does your business need reputation management? That is a question that many business owners have sought to consider. But first, it is important to consider what reputation management is all about.

Reputation management involves the practice of understanding or influencing an individual or business' brand. It was apparently originally coined as a public relations term. However, social media specifically and the internet in general has led to an renaissance in reputation management.

Sometimes reputation management has been associated with ethically questions practices. This includes “astroturfing” review sites, according to testimony from Wikipedia. Through astroturfing such reputation management companies apparently seek to marginalize negative complaints through lobbying-like tactics.

Astroturfing is a form of commercially-inspired advocacy that is often support of a corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The term is reportedly a derivation of AstroTurf which is a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.

It is important to also note that there are also ethical forms of reputation management. Such ethical practices involve responding to customer complaints’ asking sites to take down incorrect information, and various promotional strategies..

Today the rise of the internet and social media has shifted most reputation managers from abstract public relations to reviewing parts of the internet which include review sites, and prominently - the top search results on a brand or individual.

However, reputation management got a “black eye” when in 2007 a study by the University of California (also revealed in Wikipedia) found that some sellers “gamed” the system by selling products at a discount in exchange for positive feedback.

Ethically conscious companies need to therefore consider the tactics used by a reputation management company.

Reputation managers seeks to monitor the broad reputation of an individual or brand, by addressing any publicly distributed content that may be damaging to it.

Reputation managers seek to shape public opinion of goods or services that a company may offer.

Specifically, “online reputation management” is about the monitoring of the internet reputation of a person, brand or business, with the goal maintaining industry reputation. Reputation management for individuals is often referred to as online identity management (OIM), online image management, online personal branding or personal reputation management (PRM).

The practice of reputation management raises many ethical considerations because there is no agreement within the industry on where to draw the line on issues like disclosure, “astroturfing” and forms of censorship. One U.S. firm in the industry allegedly hired staff to pose as a blogger on third party sites without disclosing they were actually being paid. In some instances the act of unethical reputation management can therefore itself be risky to the reputation of the firm, if their tactics to hide negative information are exposed. However, there are many responsible reputation managers who can help business owners protect their reputations from unfair slander and unfounded accusations.

Maintaining a reputable image is paramount for business owners who seek to be commercially successful. If you are a business owner who is concerned about your industry or specific internet reputation, you may wish to consider using the services of an established and responsible reputation management company.

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