If you’ve been in business on the Internet for very long you’ve likely run into a flame war or a battle of words on a forum. You’ve probably had someone try to ruin your reputation by making comments about you or blogging about you in some fashion. It happens.
In such cases, what do you do? Well, you to think through a reputation management strategy because if it hasn’t happened to you yet it probably will at some point.
Not all such cases are a truly serious matter, of course. Maybe you have professionals within your industry who disagree with a certain strategy of your as I have. Such cases may not be a matter of ethics, just a difference in professional philosophy. Such instances could maintain a level of professional civility and you won’t need to take drastic measures. All you’ll need to do is be able to present your point of view effectively in a professional manner so that others, including those who disagree with you, can still respect your character though they may not agree with your philosophy or tactics.
In other situations, however, you may need to take more drastic measures. I have recently run into some friends who are being attacked through a blog hosted on a free blog host by a former employee who is acting anonymously. So far, no real damage has been done, but this former employee has managed to successfully get front page Google rankings for my friend’s name. That’s when a little creative reputation management can come into play.
Reputation management can come in handy and you can successfully manage a positive image of yourself without attacking the other party. It’s really an SEO game. You identify the keywords and phrases that your nemesis is using against you and you blog or submit articles on those topics and using those keywords such that you push the “negative” posts about you down in the rankings while your own contributions rise higher. Depending on the persistence of your adversary, this game could continue for a while or they may tire and leave well enough alone if it takes too much energy. There are, however, a few other things you can do help protect your reputation:
- Report your adversary to their ISP
- Send out notices to their advertisers that they are harassing you (be professional and honest)
- If the blog is hosted on a free blog host like Blogspot, you can flag it with one click
Be sure to sign up for Google Alerts for your name and URLs so that you can monitor and stay on top of activity that is associated with your reputation. Be vigilant in stopping abuse of this kind, but be professional. Most people online are ethical and friendly, but a few bad apples will spoil the bunch.