My friend and former colleague, Teena, recently commented on her blog, And then….there’s that, about reputation management.This got me thinking about how people and corporations have to manage their images, profiles and reputation in this increased scrutiny of citizen journalism and access to information.
First, it was how much information you wanted to give out for free email programs like Rocketmail and Hotmail mail (am I dating myself here?). Frankly, I put in fake information because I wasn’t sure how my information would be used.
Then it was posting to electronic bulletin boards and email newsletters. At the time, posting was relatively safe, being seen and commented by that specific community. The speed of information transfer wasn’t as easily dispersed through blogs and search engines were just beginning to leverage powerful alogortithms for revealing even the minute detail about you.
With the advent of Google, a person’s postings or online commments could be more easily found. But as PR professionals, we had the ability or time to manage prospective fallout and marketers could still control the message.
Now, blogs, twitter, instant messaging and other real time communications technology enable information – both good and bad – to spread very quickly. We now have hours maybe minutes to respond to what is being said online.
Blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn and now people search engines provide us an ability to portray our personalities online. But instead of managing one profile, how do you manage several? A personal profile may convey something that you don’t want to present professionally and vice versa. Your reputation can be managed by you but people can make their opinions about what that means.
My blog is where I put most of my effort. It allows me to communicate mythoughts on PR and marketing, while transmitting part of my personality. I point my personal email and online profiles to my blog.
Managing an online reputation requires time. In this more transparent world, it’simportant to manage your reputation. You don’t have to create multiple profiles, just one and point back. And from a marketing perspective, your prospective customers/prospects will have insight on who you are before engaging with you.
It’s just marketing 101. If you don’t do it, someone else will.
Resource: When I was with Niehaus Ryan Wong in 1996-1998, I read an article called “A Brand Called You” in Fast Company by Tom Peters. It is the best article that I recommend for everyone.
The assumption is that transparency and authenticity will automatically equate to sincerity, but this may not always be the case. The challenge that we have as marketers and PR practioners is how we are perceived by our target audiences – customers, analysts, media and bloggers.
With text based communications, sincerity is difficult to communicate. In fact, Fast Company had a tidbit about a how people interprete emails in their story about “There’s a Message in Every Email.” Punctuation, emoticons and other factors impact how your email is received and perceived by the recipient.
You could be completely transparent and authentic, but not truly speaking sincerely. Or truly sincere but perceived otherwise. How can you differentiate one from the other? I think that social media, when used properly, provides us an opportunity to be sincere in a more “natural” environment.
Why? Because the formality of email pitching gives way to the profile, pictures and personality portrayed in our LinkedIn or Facebook pages. Woul there be value in including links to our profiles when contacting bloggers and media? Possibly because face-to-face contact was previously required to achieve a level of familiarity. Now social media is helping to shape how our target audiences perceive us. If those profiles were contrived for other purposes, it would be very obvious. The sincerity factor would disappear.
I caution that the issue isn’t to pitch or promote your product/service at every opportunity – though sincere, it lacks authenticity. I believe that along with participation, transparency, and authenticity, sincerity is an important element of marketing and PR.
What do you think?
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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