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PR | Blog | phatanium

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How to Deal with Bad Press Online

With the boom in online activity, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s being said about your company-especially since not all comments that customers post are positive. With the right moves, that negative press won’t hurt your company—and it may even help you improve.

Here’s what to do.

Smart Monitoring
The first step in protecting your online reputation? Keep track of what people are saying about you.

Getting started is as easy as typing your company name into a number of search engines and seeing what comes up. You might be surprised at what appears on the first page—sometimes even above your own website.

A number of free services help you keep tabs on your online reputation. In minutes you can set up a Google alert for your company name, your own name and any other descriptors. Then, whenever something about those topics appears online, Google will notify you by email.

Notify.me can alert you to any changes or RSS Feeds via IM, email, or SMS.

And if you want to go a step farther, you can also hire the services of companies that specialize in monitoring business reputations, such as Trackur, Opinion Insights from Biz360 and MyReputation. Fees start at $9.95 a month for basic services.

Combating Negative Comments
With social networks and blogs, individuals have the freedom to post what they want with few, if any, regulations. Although most review sites require individuals to sign up before posting (and will monitor and remove deceptive reviews), they won’t pull negative reviews that appear legitimate.

What can you do if less-than-stellar comments materialize? Take these steps to minimize the damage-and learn from your mistakes.

Tread Lightly Online.
If a complaint raises a valid point about your services or products, it’s important to look hard at your business practices so you can improve them. And don’t limit your changes to that specific situation. Look at the complaint as a learning opportunity to improve the way you do business for all of your customers.

Caution: Even though some sites allow you to post a response to the review in a “comments” section, think twice about engaging in a public back-and-forth with a dissatisfied customer. Sometimes the individuals who leave nasty comments do so just to engage business owners in an online battle. In such instances, even if you didn’t do anything wrong, the trail your exchange leaves behind may cast you in a negative light.

Work your Search Rankings.
Because negative comments often show up in search results, take steps to get more positive information about your business online to push that bad information down in the rankings-preferably, so they don’t show up on the first page of potential customers’ searches.

Update the information on your company website, write blog posts, or disseminate an online press release about a new product. You can even ask clients who are pleased with your services if they are willing to write positive reviews. Customers are less likely to put much stock in one negative review if there are 20 positive ones. That’s why it’s so important to make sure those customers who are raving about your business do so online too.

Know when to Let Go.
One bad review isn’t going to break your company. Every business-no matter how great-is going to run up against complaints. Fortunately, many consumers don’t put stock in every negative review they read and are willing to give businesses a chance to prove themselves.

But that doesn’t mean you should be complacent. Take steps to right the wrongs—both perceived and real—that consumers call out online, and you’ll be positioned to take advantage of all the business the positive reviews you receive generate.

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