If it’s one thing we really don’t need any more of it’s another acronym.  The online marketing world is chock-full of them and in a perfect word we would speak in whole words as not to confuse each other to look extra-cool.  But alas, the internet is what it is and there for the latest buzzword is ORM, or online reputation management. 

Most of us who are at least a wee bit familiar with publicity know that this is not a new concept.  Call it crises management, or propaganda, or positioning”.  This is what public relations folks have been living off for years.  It’s essentially how to portray your company, product or service in a good light and when something goes askew, how to repair the damage from a PR standpoint.

Why is this topic being polished up, retitled and put back on to the what-everyone-needs-to-know-shelf?  Because once again the internet has upped the ante. Now people can not only talk smack on your company in public, but it can be sent all over the world in seconds, reaching thousands of people, and it can be plastered right on the places you want to look the best: product review forums, restaurant review sites, heck, anywhere you want it the least.  Which means: you need to think fast and act fast.

Luckily most places give you a chance to respond.  And should you respond?  This is when you do your homework. Who wrote the scathing review?  Were they a truly impartial voice or was it a spiteful ex-coworker or competitor? Do they go around doing this often? What are they trying to get out of it? And (most importantly) will responding to the complaint fuel the fire or settle things down? 

Since we are in the information age you can do several internet searches to gather much of this information. Once you have a good handle on the situation, it’s time to devise a clean-up strategy. Depending on the situation, you may try to contact the individual directly and work out a solution, or you may publicly issue an apology for your error and move on with a sincere comment.  Hopefully you have some other positive reviews out there to counter the negative one.

But whatever you do, step forward and handle it. I have seen too many times where a negative story can spur others, and it seems like angry, crabby people come out of the wood works and join in.  Being on top of the situation will allow you to keep more control and use it as an opportunity to redeem your reputation.

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