Recently, I received a media request from someone interested in discussing online reputation management. In composing a response, John Wooden’s words came to mind: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
If your business doesn’t have great character, no amount of reputation management will be enough for long-term success.
You can’t fake it forever. That’s why so many companies are tempted to invest in reputation management, which is pitched as fast, easy, and inexpensive. Savvy reputation management may allow you to hide bad company character, but it’s a lot like using credit cards to keep up with the Joneses. Tune into American Greed if you need a reminder of how that story ends.
It’s also easier to lie to yourself about the type of company you’re running than it is to admit that there’s always room for improvement. Some former clients and/or employees criticizing your company online may be idiots or liars, but if you’re getting a lot of negative feedback (and it’s not fake), some part of your business system needs work.
Some adages and sayings really are true. Nothing good comes fast or easy. Every overnight success story took 10 years. Amazon.com has a million books offering “the secret”—a way to shortcut the long, hard road to success. If there was really a way to do that, there’d be ONE book—not a million.
Spend some time thinking about your company—what you stand for, your core values, your mission, what you’re willing to do to get there, who you help, why you help them, what helping your clients means to you. Build continuous improvement of your company’s character into every part of your process. THAT’S how you manage your online reputation.
Anything else is nothing more than symptom management.