3 Common Mistakes Businesses Make Online

For any business, managing a positive online reputation is essential to maintaining a positive brand image. A study in 2015 found that the purchasing decisions of an incredible 52% of consumers had been influenced by Facebook.

One of the great challenges of online reputation management for a business is ensuring that content isn’t just being created by themselves, but by consumers too. As the internet is truly global, businesses can also face the prospect of getting lost amid the crowd.

Here are just three of the most common pitfalls that damage the online reputations of many businesses online:

Local Businesses Getting Lost

Lacking the resources of international corporations, small local businesses can often get lost among the crowd due to poor online optimisation. By utilising key terms relevant to your local area, or by linking your content to other local websites, you can optimise your online presence to reach local customers.

As 30% of mobile searches are for local services, and 78% of those local mobile searches resulted in purchases, well optimised local content can be hugely profitable.

Not Updating Content

One of the key aspects of maintaining a positive reputation online is to keep consumers engaged with, and regularly visiting your web pages. If you never update your website then consumers will have no reason to interact with your brand and will soon forget about it. Equally, a new consumer who comes across your page, only to find it’s not been active for months, won’t be very impressed.

The best way to generate traffic is through regular, high quality content updates. Whether that’s through e-mail newsletters, social media updates or paid advertising, high traffic and user engagement will make your brand more popular.

Not Monitoring Mentions

As we’ve seen, consumer engagement is essential to creating a strong online reputation. Therefore, ignoring when consumers mention you is a big mistake.

Ignoring negative reviews or social media comments can damage your brand. If negative content begins appearing among search results for your business, then consumers will be put off. Positively promoting your own content is one way to obscure negative reviews. Alternatively, engaging with social media complaints and rectifying any consumer’s grievances can actually be a great way to spread a positive brand.

These potential pitfalls don’t just represent challenges. Recognising and solving each problem provides amazing opportunities for growing any brand online.

Australian Study Finds High Rates of Non-Consensual Photo Sharing

A recent study on ‘image based abuse’ in Australia shows just how big a problem this has become. RMIT and Monash University surveyed almost 4,300 people and found that one in five (20 percent) said they’d had sexual images or video taken without their consent. Of these, 11 percent reported the material had been shared, while 9 percent had experienced threats that it would be.

The findings were higher than any of the researchers had anticipated, yet Dr Anastasia Powell of RMIT believes the true ‘rate of victimisation’ is probably even higher. Many of the respondents who said non-consensual images had been taken may be unaware that these pictures have been shared if they are posted on a site dedicated specifically to sharing pornography. According to Powell, “there’s a hidden dimension that you just can’t capture with a survey.”

The popular term used to describe the non-consensual sharing of explicit images is revenge porn. However, this refers more specifically to material posted after a couple splits up. In some cases, these pictures may have originally been taken consensually, but they are later published with the intent to humiliate the ex-lover. Powell and other researchers opted for the term ‘image-based abuse’ as a more accurate way to describe the broad scope of the problem. Some perpetrators are motivated by revenge, while others have complex reasons for wanting to control or intimidate the victim. Sexual gratification, social status and monetary considerations can all play a role. At Reputation Defender, we assist with the removal of compromising images and video and help victims create better content, but it can be very hard to rebuild a reputation after this type of abuse.

Victims Face Many Challenges

The study found that the majority of perpetrators were male (fifty-four percent), while victims were equally likely to be female or male. The rates were highest for teenagers aged 16-19 and slightly elevated for people in their twenties. The LGBTQ community was more likely to be victimised, as well as other marginalised groups including Indigenous people and anyone with a disability. Women were more likely to be threatened by someone they knew personally (such as an ex-partner) than men.

Researchers found victims were about twice as likely to report experiencing high levels of psychological stress compared to people who had never experienced this type of abuse. For many victims, it was a form of sexual violation that threatened their autonomy and dignity.

The findings correspond with instances of image based abuse around the world. Victims face severe reputation damage which can have long-term repercussions on almost every aspect of their lives. The public images can make it difficult to hold a job, build a career, or form long term relationships. They leave individuals struggling with self-esteem and wondering how far the perpetrator will go. In a recent case of revenge porn involving a US marine, the victim said she wanted to “stop living in fear.” Over time the stress can have extremely negative consequences. An Italian girl committed suicide in September 2016 after a long battle to remove a non-consensual sex tape.

Victims’ difficulties are compounded by the fact that many people fail to take images-based abuse seriously and some even blame the victim. Historically, police have been slow to prosecute perpetrators, even when significant evidence exists, but this is beginning to change as many countries adopt laws geared specifically toward internet crime. In 2015, revenge porn became a criminal offense in the UK; Powell and the other researchers recommend that Australia adopt a similar federal policy rather than the current system where standards vary from state to state.

In the meantime, victims need all the help they can get. Don’t hesitate to contact our experts at Reputation Defender if you are struggling with this type of abuse.

4 Tips for Handling a PR Nightmare

Bad publicity is something every company fears. One misstep has the potential to create a huge amount of backlash if it is picked up by the press and becomes a major news story. Marketing and communications professionals are at the front lines when it comes to PR, but if the issue is big enough it will eventually come back to the company’s leaders, especially the CEO.

Reputation incidents can pass quickly, or they can become an ongoing issue that eventually takes down the entire company. Much of this depends on how leaders deal with the situation from the outset. A genuine, nuanced response, one that takes into account the seriousness of the problem while emphasising the organisation’s desire and ability to fix what went wrong, can go a long way to neutralising the damage.

Here are four tips from company leaders who’ve successfully negotiated this delicate situation:

  • Be Transparent – In 2011, the young communications manager at Bath City Football Club, Ned Vaught, found himself at the centre of a controversy when the company offered an 80 percent discount to local groups, including one nearby Polish community. Public comments from fans were taken up by local and national news organisations. Rather than hiding, Vaught responded to every interview request. Before the controversy was over, he had appeared on BBC, talkSPORT, and ITV West Country. His steady communication of the company perspective helped to minimise the negativity the story had generated. Vaught commented afterwards that “it’s much better to be out in the open” in situations like this.
  • Offer Specific Solutions – Brian Berry was unlucky enough to be CEO of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) when the Daily Mail took up a story about a couple whose house had collapsed after they picked a builder from FMB’s member list. Berry responded immediately to requests for comment and expressed his sympathy for the couple on an interview with BBC’s Rip off Britain programme. He also explained what the firm was doing to address the issue: the builder responsible for the faulty house was suspended from FMB membership and eventually dismissed, and the organisation went on to establish stricter entry criteria.
  • Emphasise a Positive Track Record – In 2007, a Virgin Trains crash in Cumbria killed one passenger as a result of a missed inspection. The company took some flak for the incident, but Virgin head, Sir Richard Branson, tried to put the issue in perspective in a TV interview where he pointed out that his company had safely transported half a million passengers without facing a situation like this. Branson’s comment was successful because he maintained sympathy and understanding for the passengers involved in the incident, while at the same time pointing out that, overall, his company had a good track record.
  • Be Prepared – Preparation is everything when it comes to reputation. Companies that have a clear plan for how to handle potential issues will be responsive right from the start. They will be better equipped to coordinate the company’s various branches so everyone is telling the same story. Allyson Stewart-Allen, CEO of International Marketing Partners, underlines the importance of having a proactive strategy. Every executive should “know what the party line is and how to get that message out to their own national press” she says.

Consistent reputation management is an important part of any preparation effort. Reputation Defender’s professional ORM services help to build an in-depth online profile and assist companies with reputation repair as soon as a negative story surfaces. Contact our reputation specialists to learn more.

How to Create the Perfect Professional WordPress Page

Managing your online reputation has never been more important. One of the best ways to show yourself in the most positive light online – and reduce the visibility of any negative content in search results – is to create your own blog.

WordPress.com is one of the most popular blog services, and is completely free. It’s as simple as following these few steps to create a personal or professional blog that will help you to develop a positive personal brand online.

Step 1: Choose a Subject

First, think of something you’re uniquely knowledgeable or passionate about and then figure out if anybody else will want to read about it.

Choosing a completely niche subject will leave you with very few readers. Equally, opting for a popular subject you’ve got no interest in will lead to some unenthusiastic and uninteresting posts. So try to find the right balance.

For a professional blog it’s simple: write about your career. For example, if you’re looking for a career in healthcare show how much you know with a blog about new advances in medical science.

Step 2: Choose a Domain Name

The Domain Name is essential to helping readers find your blog. It needs to be relevant, clearly communicate your content and also stand out from other Domain Names.

Registering a unique domain name will usually cost a small fee. Alternatively, WordPress will host your blog for free, but you will have WordPress included in your URL. A free WordPress URL will therefore be something like “myblogtitle.wordpress.com”.

Step 3: Choose a Design

No matter how erudite your prose is, a poorly designed webpage will turn users away before they’ve even read a single word. WordPress provides a wide range of free theme packages that can bring your blog to life.

Once you’ve chosen the artistic theme to suit your content, you can think about incorporating other design and interface features. Whether using pictures or inserting video links, extra multi-media elements are a great way to make your content more engaging.

Step 4: Post Regularly

Updating regularly and reliably will keep readers engaged. The more regularly readers visit your blog; the more likely they are to share posts and spread your blog to a wider audience.

So, now you know the simple steps involved, what’s stopping you from improving your online reputation with a blog?