The online world adds a new dimension to your business and brand – and ultimately your reputation – because the same brand can be perceived differently by different audiences. With three billion active users of the internet worldwide, it’s definitely worth thinking about adding brand reputation management to your 2015 plan.


The best way to manage brand reputation is to make sure you’re telling a cohesive story – and the right story. While controlling the message is no longer an option for PR professionals thanks to social media, you can still stay on top of the dialogue.  Here are 5 ways to do it:

1) Make a good first impression.

What first impression do you want your brand to portray? … Time’s up. It takes less than 50 milliseconds to form a first impression, according to a study by Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. First impressions are so important because they give way to a ‘halo effect.’ For example, if your website looks good, that assessment is transferred to its functionality.

2) Own it and embrace who you are.

Your brand is derived from a mix of who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.  In a perfect world, your reputation follows your brand. You can help this along by making your brand present across the customer touchpoints in your business: how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear and what they say, your e-mail signature, everything. Brand is every employee’s responsibility – not just PR and marketing’s. As PR you can get back to basics and ensure the whole company understands the corporate mission, vision, values and goals so you can all believe, live and breathe this.

3) Unite and conquer.

People are converging over multiple online channels. It’s important to streamline and manage your brand consistently for every online channel you use. A good place to start is to review and assess aspects of each online channel such as reach, popularity, interactions, level of engagement, effectiveness of messaging, audience demographics and whether there are any conflicts or confusion. Try not to use all online channels for the sake of it – be strategic and decide where your brand needs to be seen regularly, what messages work, and who your influencers are.

4) Respect your community.

Building a circle of influence online can have a positive impact on your brand. We all know about the power of influence, and it travels faster than ever in a socially-networked world. As every PR person knows, this message virality is a double-edged sword.  The good news is that people who follow your brand on social media most likely already like you, so it’s important to craft a strategy that speaks to fans as people. Converse with them in a timely manner, and always be professional and courteous (no matter what was said). Partake in discussions, offer a professional opinion on the topic and avoid being too ‘salesy’ – only recommend your product or service when you feel it can solve a problem or encourage the discussion to move forward. Be sure to acknowledge positive comments, and attempt to respond to complaints and issues quickly. Build and nurture your ‘brand ambassadors’ and let them spread the good word for your brand.

5) Listen and pay attention.

It’s important to keep track of conversations, interactions and positive and negative sentiment online so you can join those discussions, answer queries, dispel myths, and actually see if your strategy is effective. There are media monitoring tools that let you view and analyse perceptions and activity around your brand online and determine ROI. You can turn conversations into customers and customers into brand advocates through social media engagement. Successful engagement is often attributed to retweets, shares, reach, clicks and various other influence metrics.

The key to effective brand reputation management is to embrace it for what it is: an ongoing relationship with your community.  By making sure that this relationship is healthy, you can help your company increase brand loyalty and recognition in a competitive online landscape.