Over the past months the news has been filled with public figures who have lost their jobs due to posts or comments they’ve made on the internet.  Whilst some were recent posts others were in the distant past, but it still came back to haunt them. An organisation is just like a person, over the years comments, news stories and customer reviews leave a story on the internet. So what can an organisation do to protect or improve their organisation’s reputation?

Your website

As an owned asset, i.e. you control all the content on there, this is the easiest place to start. If you don’t like the way something is written you can simply change it.

1. Check your website aligns with your mission and is up to date

Your website acts as the first point of contact with your organisation for most people, so make sure it reflects your organisation’s mission and all information is up to date. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than to enquire about a service but then be told “we no longer do that”, or for your upcoming events page to be retrospective.

2. Check for mistakes

Now you’ve dealt with the big issues, go through your website and check for spelling mistakes and inaccuracies.  Then going forward make sure everything you publish is double checked to make sure it is a true reflection of your brand and that it’s accurate.  The best way is by introducing quality and compliance system. You don’t want an error like the $50 note.

Customer reviews

If customers aren’t happy with you, they used to let you know directly, and maybe tell their friends.  It’s now much easier for people to vent their frustration, reaching a larger audience by writing negative comments online.  This means it is essential to make sure everyone in your organisation knows how to respond to criticism and hopefully appease the customer before they start publishing their thoughts.  But when someone writes a negative review online what can you do?

3. Have policies and processes in place to manage negative comments

For serious issues you need to have a crisis plan in place.  Especially if there is risk to people, it’s prudent to involve a PR company that specialises in crisis management.   For day to day issues like people complaining about a service or staff member it’s important to know what comments to respond to, how to respond to them and what tone of voice to take.  Having a plan, with pre-approved responses in place, allows you to respond quickly and with confidence.  Think about how you can turn a bad review into a positive experience, not just for that person, but for anyone who reads the reviews and your reply in the future.

4. Monitor online comments and reviews

The most prominent places people can review you are via Google and Facebook reviews, so make sure you monitor these, preferably every day.  A quick response shows you actually care what people think about your organisation.  There may also be review sites that are specific to your sector (e.g. Clickability – disability, TripAdvisor – tourism, UberEats – food delivery).  Don’t forget to monitor these too.

5. Acknowledge positive feedback

Don’t ignore positive comments. Replying with a simple ‘thanks for the great review’ could turn a good reviewer into a great brand advocate.  Good news travels just as well as bad news.

Search engines

Each time a customer types your name into search engines like Bing and Google, they ‘crawl’ the internet and link to articles that mention your company.  Do you know what they’re seeing when they type your company name?  If not give it a try and see.

6. Check contact details

The first thing to check is can people contact you.  Your website should come up first in the list.  If not, you might think about investing in upgrades to your website to improve your ranking.  Look to the right hand side of the page and you should see your business listing.   If it’s not there, there is missing or wrong information, or you don’t like the images, you can make changes by claiming your business.  All you have to do is create your Google or Bing account by following the links.

7. Check for directory listings

Next, review any business directory listings on the first four pages of Google and Bing (which will cover approximately 98% of people searching). Make sure that any listings have your correct contact details.  If not contact the listing and ask them to be changed.  A customer will soon move onto a competitor if they can’t reach you.

8. Check for news and other mentions of your brand

If your see negative articles about your organisation, you need to create new content that search engines will prioritise over old content (on generic searches like your organisations name).  This way negative news about your organisation moves down the search results so less people will see them.  A study by Chitka Insights showed that 91.5% of users clicked on results from the first page of Google.  The best way to create new news is through a blog on your website, and by asking partners to share articles, as this will help the search engine ranking.

9. Set up alerts

Create search engine alerts for your organisation. This way you’ll be informed anytime your organisation is mentioned on web pages.  While you can’t control what people write, knowing what’s been written gives you the opportunity to promote good news and create a strategy to deal with bad news.  Instructions on how to set up Alerts in Google and Bing can be found via the links.

10. Try social listening tools

Unfortunately Bing and Google alerts don’t always pick up text on social media, but a free social listening tool like www.social-searcher.com can. This allows you to set up free daily email alerts to track social media.