10 tips for proactive online reputation management – Preparation for Pubcon South


Next week I’ll be doing a “Spotlight Session” at Pubcon South in my home town of Dallas, Texas. This means, that if you don’t have the privilege of hearing me speak for 45 minutes straight on normal days (like my wife or my employees), you can do that.  And it’s included in the price of your admission to the show…

But as I’m making out my presentation (yep, haven’t done it yet…so I like to cut things close) I thought it would be fun to brainstorm my outline in the form of this blog post. You’ll have to attend the session to get the full “meat” of what I’m talking about – but this should give you the flavor and hopefully I’ll see you in the audience.

Tips for Proactive Reputation Management

1. Have an enforceable Employee Social Media Policy that even-handed, enforceable, and written by the marketing team. Editing can be done by the Legal team. Disputes are settled by the CEO. Or you can hire my firm to do it for you (we even have Lawyers and HR people who work with us on this.)

2. Provide training and education to everyone from the CEO to the Janitor on the importance of online reviews. Reviews are getting even more important with their inclusion in Google local, and if your  janitor spit in the wastebasket in front of a kid at your restaurant – bet it will be on Yelp in 3 hours. Google in 6 hours.

3. Don’t freak out about negative reviews. Deal with them offline where possible, but make sure that they are dealt with in a way that shows concern to the thousands of “lurkers” out there. Strive for at least a 70/30 ratio of positive to negative reviews. If you have 10 reviews and all are completely positive either you are Jesus Christ’s company or someone faked all your reviews. Which do you think consumers will believe?

4. Make sure you have the resources to mount a social media campaign before you do. The only thing worse than a non-responsive 1-800 number is a dead Twitter account.

5.  Never hire anyone who calls themself a “guru” or a “social media ninja”. If other people call them that – they can’t help that. But self-promotion via those terms is grounds for instant credibility loss.

6. Make it easy for your good customers to leave positive reviews. First step – Ask them. If you can ask for an internal survey, you can ask for a Google Local review.

7.  If you have any negative press, blogs posts etc (you are monitoring your web presence, right?), make sure you monitor the search engine results pages. Nothing than getting suprised by a negative listing under your name in Google when you could have headed it off on page 5.

8. Know the influencers in your space and create relationships with them. If you are friends with the guy who talks about your space and has a million twitter followers, it’s easy to call him during a crisis and tell him your side of the story. And many times much more efficient than even getting mainstream media to carry your side of the story.

9. Don’t just monitor the outside world, monitor what your employees are saying (don’t be big brother – see item #1), as well as what is coming in through your Web Analytics. A little introspection can be enlightening.

10. Create your crisis plan. I’ve spoken on this in the past, and I seem to remember some yawns in the audience. Ok, it’s not that interesting, but if your company doesn’t have one, you’ll have to pay a company like mine a TON of money to create one DURING a crisis. It’s cheaper if we do it before the crisis. And as someone who I don’t remember once said “Doing PR during a crisis is like eating healthy during a heart attack.”. Very true words, dude I can’t remember who you are.

So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed it. And I’ll see you at Pubcon South.


  1. No kidding. I of all people understand how a negative reputation can not only have an impact on an individual, but also a company. From companies with broken business models, to folks that have comments on Facebook that may keep them from obtaining a job. Great post Tony. Looking forward to your presentation at PubCon. I thoroughly enjoyed your short presentation at the Texas Tech University Conference recently.

    “5. Never hire anyone who calls themself a “guru” or a “social media ninja”. If other people call them that – they can’t help that. But self-promotion via those terms is grounds for instant credibility loss.”

    As far as number 5. I completely agree. I have found that many web developers claim to be SEO “Gurus” and many so-called “SEO Guru’s” don’t understand web design and the impacts it has on rankings. I first used the term Guru for myself when I built http://www.YellowPageGuru.com as a 23 year old Yellow Pages sales industry veteran for Verizon Information Services. It only made sense to continue the term when I began studying SEO.

    A guru (Sanskrit: गुरु) is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others.

    I always enjoy a challenge and when folks continue to raise the bar. In my personal opinion a guru does indeed guide others. A guru also seeks to find the answers when one is needed. A guru is an authority. After sharing the techniques and implementing holistic local SEO to Dallas area clients over the years at no charge (obviously as a value added service to clients for advertising in products that have been decreasing in ROI since 2003) I am up for the challenge.

    From an industry outsider perspective I have never understood the thinking behind the use of the word “Ninja”. Geovanni Gallucci is always the first person whom comed to mind. I wonder why?


    Obviously out of the entire blog article you posted I chose to pick apart #5 because it relates to me. I couldn’t agree more with everything else you said.

    Couldn’t help to get defensive. When you are blowing whistles and screaming about injustices with little preparation or planning for the future, it leaves you vulnerable to both criticism and a negative reputation situation.

    Mike Stewart

  2. Mike, when I referred to those that call themselves “Gurus” I wasn’t referring to you. I was referring to those who package cheap videos and other training to sell to people who have dreams of becoming instant internet millionaires. I have to battle the bad advice these folks give constantly, as they are very good and marketing themselves. Teaching others how to market products, they are suspect at best. Managing client’s interests – they can’t do.

  3. TheGuruOfAllThingsGoogle says:

    I take offense to #5. All kidding aside…I have been trying to relay the sense of #3 to SMBs for some time. They are so deathly afraid of even a 3-4 star review that they shoot themselves in the foot with 10-15 five star reviews that all preach the same cheesy appraisal of services. Great read Tony!

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