As a communications professional, one of your most important tasks is making sure your brand’s reputation is spotless. Long ago, this meant selling a good product and avoiding bad publicity. But that was then . . . Thanks to the Internet explosion, online brand reputation management demands so much attention, it’s become a job unto itself.

Maintaining a sharp online presence means tracking your brand reputation in real time, in addition to managing everything else that’s typically on your plate. It requires learning the truth about what’s lurking out there. But that’s only half the battle . . . For example, if your website’s not trending well, you need to know why – and fix it!

But you can take action on all fronts, keeping the brand looking good and moving forward. Try deploying the following reputation management tactics to that end . . .

On-site Brand Reputation Management
• Are your Web pages among the first listed search engine results? If not, your brand reputation might not be as glowing as it could be. Use tools like iWebTools, Google Analytics or any number of other third party tools out there designed to evaluate, monitor and respond to the conversations going on about your brand online.
• Having a shining reputation means little if just a few people know about it. Online reputation management also involves making a good name more discoverable. Refine the keywords you’re using on your site and increase and optimize your incoming links. Both heavily impact your Web pages’ search results rankings. Doing this kind of clean-up is an essential step in effective brand reputation management.
• If you don’t yet have a social media newsroom (SMNR) on your website, work with a PR technology specialist to build one out. Not only does this allow you to keep all of your media mentions in one place, it adds lift to your site’s search engine presence.
• Use resources like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to easily track mentions of your product or service on Twitter, Facebook, and in RSS feeds. Having all of this information at your fingertips lets you monitor the state of your reputation – and know where damage control might be needed.
• Does your CEO regularly tutor children in local schools? Load up social media sites like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter with positive tweets and posts about those good deeds. Get a picture and post it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and beyond.
• Offer those old stand-bys: giveaways and contests. Again, leverage the power of social media to engage and help take the fun viral. These activities create positive consumer impressions. Getting them indexed on search engines also helps bury any bad reviews out there damaging your brand reputation.
• But note: Pushing myriad one-way messages about your company won’t work. So get in there, be personal, ask questions, and engage people in those online communities. This, too, is essential to improving your brand reputation.
Online brand reputation management is complex business, but there are great resources available to help. Take advantage of them and you’ll take your company to the top.

But you’ll hardly get there simply by increasing your company visibility online. Here’s what reputation management increasingly is about: protecting your greatest asset, your brand’s image from high-visibility criticism so all of the good work you do shines through.

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