Reputation management in Blogs, chat rooms and message boards

Technical PR, Engineering PR, Industrial PR, Manufacturing PRMany of you may know I enjoy shooting my mouth off every now and again, particularly in the virtual world of the Inter-Super-Highway, where no one can really challenge you. Or can they?

I’ve recently encountered a number of instances where a reputation, either mine or my clients, has needed some delicate online handling. One instance was a reference to me on a PR industry Blog called TheWorldsLeading. The author had taken exception to a post on my own Blog, where I argued that the business world needs more people to act like rock stars. There is more to the argument, which can be read here if needs be, although it’s not essential to make sense of this post.

Without going into the debate that then ensued on TheWorldsLeading, there was a decision to make. Should I post on the Blog where I had been criticised, justifying my original argument, or just ignore it on the basis that probably very few people would come across it? I felt that the former option was the braver, and so that’s what I did. The end result was a short debate with the Blog’s author, during which we finally agreed that certain creative principles were fundamental to business but that not enough people actually employ those principles any longer. I felt that the right step was to stick my head above the parapet and in the end this was probably justified.

Another instance arose recently with a client, an online retailer of mobile phones called mPhone. A poster, on the message boards of a Web site called MoneySavingExpert.com, asked whether it was a good idea to buy from the client. Now, as many of you may know, there is a serious ethical issue with PR people posting things online about their own clients. At present, it’s frowned upon to not disclose who you are and your relationship to the client. There are moves afoot to introduce European legislation to stop non transparent posting happening at all. So, I duly reported the posting to my client and left a message, disclosing who I was and pointing the user to a series of testimonials on the mPhone Web site. It would probably have guaranteed my client more sales if I had registered a number of different user names and left messages saying how great the client was. But, it wouldn’t have been ethical.

So, my question is about managing reputation in the social media. Have you ever encountered instances, either fair or unfair, of your reputation being tarnished online? How did you respond? Did you respond at all? All thoughts are welcome… As long as you don’t tarnish my reputation online of course, if you do I will be round your gaff with the lads any minute now.

(Post originally produced as an article for Business Link for London).

Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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