Online Reputation Management’s Role in PR
Online reputation management (ORM) is a new and increasingly important field of public relations. However, few people truly understand what ORM means, or what strategies are used by PR professionals when they talk about ORM campaigns. Online reputation management uses some of the same principles that have been used by PR professionals for years, but the goals and practices are different.
Online reputation management is the practice of building a positive brand image and dialogue between a brand and its audience, through a mix of SEO and Public Relations strategies. Some of these strategies are used to manage reviews and user-generated content about a brand or to promote positive content about a brand and suppress negative content in the search engines. Online reputation management is partially technical and partially creative, and PR professionals often work with SEO strategists to develop an ORM campaign for their clients.
Research is an important aspect of both ORM and PR campaigns. Your PR firm needs to know the strengths and weaknesses of your brand to develop campaigns that put your brand in its best light. Online reputation management strategists also need to know what weaknesses your brand has, and what consumers are searching for that might hurt your reputation. An ORM campaign might include keyword research and an in-depth analysis of the types of consumers who are engaging with your brand online.
Online reputation management emphasizes the importance of dialogue. It is more about outreach to your audience than controlling your brand image because you can’t control what others post or write online about a brand, even if it’s not true. “Management” implies that the practice is fluid, ever-changing, and adapting to new circumstances. Many ORM campaigns focus on responding to negative content and developing new strategies based on changes with the top search results and keywords for a brand.
Because online news is largely generated by consumers themselves via social media “reporting,” companies can no longer stop bad news from being released to the public. The more a company tries to hide its negative reviews and coverage, the more damage it can cause. Instead of trying to control or eliminate the conversation, PR firms need to connect and promptly respond to online coverage of their clients.
An effective ORM campaign boosts search engine rankings for positive content related to the brand. Online reputation management involves social media, online assets, and follower engagement in a way that’s balanced and beneficial to the consumer and the client.