Posted February 9, 2009 4:05 pm by with 5 comments

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Deserved or not, sometimes a single negative review or mention can taint a brand for a long time. When these negative reviews come over the Internet—and especially when they make the first page of the SERPs—their impact can become even more devastating.

VP-client strategy at EWI Worldwide Keith Goldberg recounts one such incident today at Ad Age:

There on Google, sitting solidly in the fourth position — right below three killer, above-the-fold search listings for my brand — was a listing titled “customer complaints.” Customer complaints about my company.

I quickly clicked. The list of complaints were unsubstantiated, even comical, and the company they were blasting didn’t sound at all like us. But there was our name, plain as day.

This experience was even more frustrating after they’d spent time, effort and money optimizing their site for search engines. A single bad review—and an apparently undeserved one at that—would draw a good proportion of potential clicks, and probably turn away potential customers, too.

Goldberg says this was the day he began to believe in reputation management. He offers a great plan for taking stock of your online reputation and taking steps to maintain or improve it:
Source: Ad Age

This plan of action can help you take a more proactive role in protecting your brand before it’s too late. By monitoring the Internet for mentions for your brand—positive and negative—we can cultivate relationships with potential brand evangelists and fans as well as help to ameliorate any negative situations before they get out of hand. The plan also advocates several methods to “tell your side of the story” instead of just reacting to others’ opinions, including blogging and social networking (though this can be used reactively as well as proactively).

Of course, no Marketing Pilgrim article on reputation management is complete without a nod to our own Andy Beal, a leading RM expert—after all, he wrote the book on reputation management. (No, really, he did.) So if you’re ready to get started managing your online reputation, Andy’s beginners’ guide to reputation management is a (free!) detailed how-to on getting started, and Trackur is a comprehensive reputation monitoring service.

As Keith Goldberg learned the hard way, sometimes you’re only one misguided bad review away from disaster.