As I am writing the third in a series of articles about
online reputation management (feel free to read parts one
I am reminded of my constant nagging at my kids. “You’ll remember where you put your
shoes/toys/baseball glove/ballet outfit if you gather and keep it all in one
place.” It doesn’t work well in my house,
but it just might be a fit for your online reputation management program.
Just starting might seem a bit daunting at first, but you
need to approach your online reputation management program by thinking that you
will attempt to gather as much as you
can in one place, analyze it and then take a step back for a 40,000 foot view
of your issues, stakeholder opinions, and most importantly, how they mutate
One size does not fit
In my work for agencies over the years, I was (and still am)
amazed that companies ask for, and agencies provide “daily clips.” This often involves some poor, lower-level
schlub who gets in early, does a Factiva and Google News scan and pastes the
clips into a Word document. Once the
“send” button is hit, the job is over.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The only thing that a daily regurgitation of clips gives you
is what happened that day in Factiva or Google News. What’s missing is context to go along with the content. Are today’s clips more negative than
yesterday’s? Why? Have stakeholder views changed over
time? Who are the new voices that we
should be reaching out to and who are the people whom we will just never win
over? What new opportunities or threats
have appeared, and is this different or the same from this point last
year? Reading clips in a Word document
every morning is akin to slamming the barn door shut after the horse runs out. The news is out there, if it’s right or wrong
or even if you get a retraction, it’s forgotten. Game over, dude.
Doing it right
I cannot keep up with all of the monitoring services and
feeds out there, but think about the number of online and offline outlets that
have the potential to impact your issue, your brand, your organization, or your
executives. It might seem a little
overwhelming in the beginning, after you have determined the voices that matter
article), find a way to capture what important stakeholders are saying
about you – but try to do it in one place.
My advice? Build your
monitoring program on a firm foundation, just like you would a house. Make sure that you are gathering information
from a variety of sources, not just the big print or trade pubs. Then you can analyze and code them for tone
or favorability and a picture will begin to evolve of what’s happening with
your issues. At a bare minimum, your
monitoring system should be filtering and then capturing – in one place – the
pubs: you can quantify impact
through circulation statistics;
Online-only pubs – These matter too; the Drudge Report doesn’t print
an online edition. If you want to
quantify impact, you can use paid (like Nielsen Net Ratings) or free (like
Alexa) that can give you a sense of the impact of an online source of information;
- Blogs –
I firmly believe that blogs
drive opinion, which drives news.
Just ask Dan Rather. I have
said it previously and it is imperfect, but the Technorati authority
ranking is one of the few consistent sources out there.
- TV and radio – services like TV
Eyes or ShadowTV include feeds that provide near real-time access from
Adding in other elements that matter
I am sure that there are a lot of
search, .rss or .xml feeds out there that I am missing, social media outlets
are about connecting people and exchanging opinions, so the key is having a monitoring
foundation/platform that can incorporate feeds from another service, but
present it all in one place. Examples
boards – BoardReader is a quick
and easy way to get to the posting you want to read without having to
scroll or search for forever
- TweetScan – find out who is tweeting
about your issues.
Web sites – believe it or not, most of the “big” services do not allow
users to add little sites that might be little in Google, but are big to
their issues. Ask United Airlines.
The bottom line
You will never, ever,
capture every bit of information that is important to you or your organization,
so enter into a monitoring and an online reputation management exercise with
that philosophy. But taking holistic
approach to including multiple sources of information in your monitoring
program will enable you to see the “big picture” and track how your issues
change over time.
Knowing where you are and where you have been tees up Part
#4 of the Online Reputation Management series:
determining what to do, or if you should react, when something goes
“bump” on the ‘net.
Mark Story is a part-time, adjunct professor at Georgetown
University and a full-time communications professional at a government
agency in Washington, D.C. Prior to the government, Mark worked for 11
years in some of the largest online public relations shops in the world.