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Is Your Online Presence Putting Your Brand At Risk?

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4 Tips for Building and Managing your Digital Presence in 2022

Never have the stakes around corporate reputation been higher. Employees and consumers have a louder and more accessible voice than ever before, and companies are increasingly finding it difficult to disengage from the social and political battles that engulf popular discussion today. Consider Disney’s recent non-response to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, which evoked intense internal criticism and ultimately led the CEO to post a public apology on the company website. Or the growing list of corporations who initially said they would not pull out of Russia in the wake of its horrific attack on Ukraine, but were ultimately pressured to reverse that stance after facing backlash from every corner of the internet.

When rumors swirl and critical public statements are made about your organization, the first place people will go to find out more information is the internet. And when they search for your brand, it’s important that the search results contain relevant and accurate information that projects a positive image. A strong online presence — linked back to a history of authentic words and actions — will help mitigate any potential crisis or misinformation that spreads online.

Here are some tips for strengthening your online presence and managing your digital reputation in a time when stakeholder and consumer expectations for your organization are higher than ever.

1. Reinforce your online presence long before people start searching. Companies must build a wide online presence early and avoid focusing solely on your own website. You must make the internet work for you. Audit your social channels and other digital platforms to make sure all messaging is consistent, clear, and saying exactly what you want it to say. Organizations that are truly purpose-driven and working to serve more than just shareholders should make that abundantly clear in the information they share digitally — with clear delineation of your policies, stances, and what you’re doing internally to reflect the statements and actions you take externally. An internet search should lead people to the same core messaging over and over — the message you want them to see. Be proactive, not reactive.

2. Don’t forget Wikipedia. While the online free-content encyclopedia may not be endorsed by academics (even Wikipedia itself says “Wikipedia is not a reliable source”), it still attracts 1.7 billion unique-device visitors monthly. Companies and individuals can submit requested edits — with the appropriate journalistic citations and a lack of bias — to ensure the information contained on their Wikipedia page is fair and accurate. If you’re not familiar with how to do this, give us a call and we can help.

3. Keep an eye on search results. If your organization’s name gets caught up in the news of the day or week, those links will certainly be the ones that pop up first in any Google search. But you can work to anticipate that and make sure your most desirable results are the links that are posted in the highest position after the “top stories”. Do some research to find the most desirable links that are already out there and set up a Google alert for any new additions. Link building takes time and diligence but will pay off in the long run as your search results demonstrate your reputation for you and reflect the messaging you relay on your own channels and website.

4. Traditional media relations and communications are always needed. This may seem obvious, but you absolutely need an integrated team to manage your online reputation in 2022. No amount of search engine optimization will keep your brand fully protected on its own — strong relationships with reporters and media outlets who can correct any misinformation or add details to the story quickly is imperative. While misinformation and negative storylines spread quickly online and can be combated using online platforms, you need to lift that material in all the right places.

Of course, all of this is fully contingent on remaining consistent online and off, internally and externally. Protecting your online reputation starts with having a good reputation to protect. Once you build an authentic stance, you can elevate your brand online and ensure your audiences know what your organization stands for — no matter what circumstances come your way.

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