Episode #005: Managing Your Online Reputation, Choosing the Best Media Database, & the Non-Profit Newspaper

Duration: 10 min, 01 sec.

Summary:

 • “10 Steps for Managing and Repairing Your Businesses Online Reputation” by Martin Zwilling

 • Choosing the Best Media Database for Digital PR

 • Shrinking local paper sparks startup news operation

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Links from this episode:

 • 10 Steps to Managing and Repairing Your Business’s Online Reputation | Inc.com

 • Choosing the best media database for your Digital PR : 46ALPHA

 • Shrinking local paper sparks startup news operation – StarTribune.com

Rough Transcript:

Thank you again for giving me a listen.

Here is what we got for today’s episode.

I’ve got an article titled “10 Steps for Managing and Repairing Your Businesses Online Reputation” by Martin Zwilling

Choosing the Best Media Database for your Digital PR

and a shrinking newspaper in New Bedford, Mass. goes non-profit with support from local residents.

The date is Sunday, June 27, 2021. The time is 7:30 p.m, and you’re listening to Episode #5 of Communicate For Effect.

Segment 1

I’m back from having spent the last week on a family road trip across half of the U.S.

We spent a few days on a beach in Florida, then went over to Texas, saw some friends, got some In-n-Out, and then got back to DC last night.

I skipped last week’s episode because of the trip, but am back doing these once-a-week on Sunday.

So, this week’s Segment 1.

Martin Zwelling on Inc wrote an article on managing and repairing your business’s online reputation.

He briefly talks about the need to monitor what people are saying about your brand, even if your business does not have a big online presence.

Social media sites, Yelp, other online forums – there could be an entire conversation going on about your business which may or may not be accurate, so it’s important to monitor for the sake of your organization.

He provides 10 steps for managing and repairing your online reputation.

Step 1 is to assess the scope and impact of any negatives. If you have a bunch of reviews and only a few negative ones, don’t sweat it.

Step 2 is don’t ignore the issue or pretend no one notices. Every customer or outside concern should be taken as an opportunity to improve.

I’ll add that you may not even want to engage with the negative comments as it might raise the profile more than it otherwise would be. If it’s old, and there’s just a few, it’s ok to let it go. Some people go on and add negative reviews just because they think it’s fun. These comments you’re not going to win. If it looks like a genuine negative comment and you think you have something to offer, by all means, engage.

Step 3 is to resist canceling social media accounts because it says it may imply to readers that you have something to hide.

Step 4 is to separate emotion from feedback reality. Absolutely yes, and this is a hard thing for people to do. People generally do not make good decisions when they’re emotional so step away, come back, and approach it objectively.

Step 5 is to set specific recovery goals and create action steps. Paraphrasing what he wrote, I call this the deeds to the words. If there is something wrong, you have to fix what’s wrong. You can write and say all kinds of great things, but if you never fix the issue it will be an empty statement and people will know.

Step 6 is to be realistic about what you have control over.

Step 7 is to assess whether to take legal action. You may want to know the differences between slander, defamation, and libel, and in some extreme cases, you may want to retain legal counsel for advice. That said, do not keep responding to negative comments that you are seeking legal counsel. That can backfire.

Step 8 is to minimize your public response and defense. This is where he talks about trolls, anonymous posting, etc.

I’ll say whether to minimize your response and defense depends on the situation. One way to approach this that I’ve seen in both corporations and in government is to get the complainer off the online forum. If there is an issue and you think you can help, refer them somewhere offline or not on a public forum to handle the situation. Again, it depends. Sometimes it’s good to handle issues in public because your audience is not just this individual commenter, it’s everyone else that sees the comment as well.

Step 9 is to bring in experts, basically hire a professional.

And Step 10 is to define indicators and measure impact and results. The sentence in this area I will highlight is this – “be selective in how you communicate.” Agree. Do not be too easy-going. You want to be deliberate and thoughtful and think of the second and third-order effects of your comments once they’re out there for all to see.

Segment 2

On the same line of thinking as the previous article, on June 13th I had an article about choosing the best media database for your PR work.

I’m still calling it Digital PR on my site 46alpha.com, but this topic is really just basic PR work.

If you haven’t used a media database before, this provides an overview of some of the more popular ones out there.

I took a look at Prowly, MuckRack, Meltwater, Cision, and then you can also build your own database.

I’ve used all of these at one time, and they’re all good and have their good and bad aspects. I highlight some of those in the article.

If I had to choose one now with a small company, I’d choose Prowly. If I was a larger organization with a larger budget, I’d choose Meltwater.

With the exception of Prowly, none of them list the prices on their website but I have put them in order from least to most expensive, at least according to my experience. And remember, pricing for all of these is always subject to change so if you’re really interested in one of them start a trial, get a demo, ask a sales rep about the cost.

The thing about these databases though is that if you’ve never used them before, you might think, “Yes, I’ve got all these contacts and I can start sending my information to everyone!”

You might now want to do that. No one likes getting SPAM, and no one wants to basically be subscribed to your “press releases” when they didn’t ask to be.

These databases are a good starting point to start a conversation with someone. Send an introductory email. Ask the contact if they’d like to receive occasional updates from your organization. Start a professional relationship rather than approach it like a mass distro.

If you use it correctly, it can be a great addition to your digital comms toolkit.

Segment 3

Finally, for segment 3 and on a similar media topic, I ran across an article about a struggling newspaper in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and the mayor who went all-in for a non-profit supported by the community newspaper.

Mayor Jon Mitchell really wanted a newspaper that was focused on the city and local news, and get back to a “sense of place.” So when a group of journalists, including former editors of the Standard-Times, said they planned to start a nonprofit digital news outlet to cover New Bedford, he was all-in.

“The Light, which has no print edition, is free to readers. It does not accept advertising, relying on donations, grants, and sponsorships from local businesses.”

They do accept donations but say that any donors have no role in editorial decisions.

This is a topic that I would like to explore a lot more. The for-profit media model is not working for us in the U.S.

When the most important thing is getting eyeballs on screens and selling ads, news organizations will tell viewers whatever they want as long as they stay tuned in to their screen, as opposed to telling viewers the news they need to hear.

It’s a problem, I know there are some solutions out there but I think the status quo cannot be maintained over the long run. Some things got to change, and I think it’s a topic to explore a little down the road.

Wrap Up

And that’s it for number five. 

If you have any questions or comments for me, just go to 46alpha.com and shoot me a note.

Thanks again, and see you next week.

 

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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