You need to manage your client’s online reputation

Following on from my post last week on cleansing your reputation, last Sunday’s UK Times has a follow up written by Rosie Millard on her personal travails with someone hijacking her online reputation.

Rosie goes and talks to some "online reputation management" experts.

Seriously folks, this shouldn’t be a standalone business. 

Online reputation management (clear, above board, no shady practices) should be a standard service offered by Public Relations consultants everywhere. If you’re not convinced… according to the article the daily rate for these services is £900.

I rarely hear PR folks talking about this issue and we should be.

“Sometimes this happens to reasonably high-profile people because there are those out there who will buy the domain, put up a site and then snag any casual traffic associated with your name to get ad revenue,” says Michael Fertik, 29, who runs Reputation Defender in California. “And this one looks like a strong site. More than 30,000 people have already visited it, and the longer it stays up, the stronger it gets, because Google prefers legacy over immediacy. We see cases like yours all the time.”

The article references some interesting resources:

Angry journalists… and more on Twitter

The Bad Pitch blog has unearthed a fascinating site I hadn’t heard of before: which provides a welcome facility for journalist to vent about what’s bugging them.

While there’s plenty of venting about PR, I was actually surprised there wasn’t more.  Unfortunately the site is anonymous and there’s no tags or categories so you just have to wade through the comments, but it’s an interesting browse…

PR people who don’t do their research. They insist on wasting my time to promote their pathetic story which if they knew ANYTHING about our paper would know that we’re not interested at all. As well as asking if I would like to meet with a representative from their organisation when they visit a town four hours away from me.

They’re probably getting paid more than me too…bastards.


Kevin Dugan who runs the Bad Pitch blog, has also pulled together an incredibly detailed list of links to resources and tips on Twitter.  The depth of the tools, tips, workarounds took me a little by surprise, but then I’m still struggling with twitter.

Grumpy views on PR…

Just in case your were feeling all happy and content, two UK bloggers had the misfortune to ask me my opinions on the state of PR and blogging recently…



Sarah Stimson: "I met my latest interviewee, Tom Murphy, about 18 months ago when he was delivering part of the "Delivering the New PR" conference…."







The last Friday I had a very interesting chat with Brendan Cooper of the famous PR Friendly index


PR Retirement Home

As long as I have worked in PR there has always been an uneasy relationship between those that practice in an agency and those that practice in-house.

As someone who has spent time in both roles, this doesn’t really surprise me.  After all working in an agency and working inside are in many respects very different jobs. I always tell students they should try and get experience of both sides of the profession, because at the very least, it will provide them with a broader perspective.

Over the past couple of weeks I met with a number of friends and former colleagues and I was stunned.

On a number of occasions I heard working in-house referred to as a type of nursing home for those no longer able to work in a "real job" i.e. the agency.

The comments were prefaced with: "no disrespect Tom but…"

The interesting things was that these comments came from people with little or no in-house experience.

There is no doubt that the differences between agency and in-house are many fold, but just in case anyone is looking at moving in-house as part of their end of career wind down process, I’d think again. :-)

Working in-house isn’t a retirement plan…

There are some things we’re just not supposed to understand…

Earlier today I had the pleasure of attending Croke Park for the Ireland-Scotland Six Nations match.

Sitting in the Hogan stand we had a fantastic view and as usual there was vociferous support for both teams.  Everyone was having a great time except that is for the poor woman sitting in the row ahead of us.

Three times during the match she looked up from her newspaper to glare at someone in a row behind her who had obviously shouted too loudly and made it hard for her to concentrate on her paper. She didn’t watch one minute of the match.

Two things:

Why oh why would you waste €70 on a ticket for a match you’re not going to watch? Surely you’d be better off finding a nice warm bar?

Secondly if you’ve no interest in watching the match why bother going when you are denying someone who would love to watch the match live?

Sometimes I really wonder… below is one of the tries she missed.

Forward Thinking: Marcus Horan goes over for Ireland's third try


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Cleansing your online reputation…

Just stop for one moment. 

Think about where people go to find out about your company, your client, your product, your service or your industry.

It’s pretty straightforward.

They use a search engine.

Search Engines are incredibly important in ensuring that your company is top of mind among current and prospective clients.

I’m always amazed at how few PR people think about search engines. Understanding Search Engines, IMHO, is central to understand how you manage online reputations – and drive business.

But there’s another side to Search Engines….

There was a very interesting story in yesterday’s UK Sunday Times entitled "Smeared on the internet? Call in the cleaners".

Firms such as Reputation Defender (US), Tiger Two (UK) and Distilled (UK) offer services which promise to ensure that the top search results about you are positive.

This isn’t just simple search engine optimisation however. 


The services ensure that only friendly entries appear on the first few pages of results when a client’s name is run through search engines such as Google.


It’s reputation cleansing.

Reputation Defender charges $25,000 per year for the basic service rising to $300,000 for the premium version..


Michael Fertik, chief executive of Reputation Defender, said one of his clients was an academic psychologist in London anxious to “bury” the fact he had written about his own depression.

“Demand for the service is extremely high. Almost all our customers are private individuals and our top clients are high-pro-file business people,” said Fertik.

"They just don’t get it"… or is it me?

No one phrase chills my blood more than the declaration: "they just don’t get it".  It’s remarkable how often you hear it.  I find the closer you are to a particular ivory tower, the more often it occurs.

Translated it means "it’s all about my views", if they disagree they’re stupid. It’s anathema to good communication. [As of course is using words like ‘anathema’ – don’t worry I spot the irony!]

The other thing that never ceases to amaze me is you can take one bit of research.  Publish it to 1,000,000 people and you will get 500,000 different "findings" drawn from the same data.

If you work in PR, you probably have a good insight into research.  But that doesn’t mean that research findings aren’t interesting.

Some examples from Edelman Trust Baramoter

  • Higher trust (on the whole) in business than in government
  • Highest ever levels of trust in traditional media (be still my beating heart)
  • Young respondents relying on social media (Wikipedia the #2 source of credible information – and young people have higher levels of trust across most media types… oh my lord…)
  • 85% of respondents will pass along good or bad experiences of a company
  • News is the #1 online destination – usurping shopping
  • Blogs are a trusted source among only 14% of respondents (the word "only" is my emphasis)

Another interesting piece of research I came across is from Rajar (Radio Joint Audience Research) in the United Kingdom which found that 18% of people have started listening to more live radio since they started subscribing to podcasts.

What do all these statistics mean?

Search me.

My take is that all this research, in my opinion, underlines that communications, media and audiences are a complex, interrelated set of elements.  There isn’t one right answer.  There’s significant differences between geographies and age groups, between online and traditional media.

Which brings me back to my headline. 

Beware the emperor’s couture. There isn’t a one size fits all.  The reality is that, with some specialist exceptions, good and effective communication requires us to work with traditional and online media, traditional and online channels and traditional and online tools.

In summary, more work :-)

The revolution isn’t coming – but the evolution is.

You can download the full Edelman Trust Barometer report here and the key findings here.

Ireland specific

If you’re interested in the specific Irish findings jump over to Piaras.