Case Study: Online Reputation Management

Villageous was approached by an individual who, despite being a highly respected industry leader and philanthropist, was dealing with the challenge of one negative news event that was disproportionately dominating their search results. They also had duplicate personal websites and social media profiles that needed to be streamlined.

We were asked to develop a two-phase plan: 1) short term actions to create a more balanced, up-to-date view of this individual in search results and social media and 2) a long-term plan for maintaining a predominantly positive online reputation.

I should mention that I’m occasionally approached by potential clients who ask if I can “get something removed” from their search results. This isn’t easy or even possible in most situations. Getting something removed from a website you don’t control typically involves making a direct appeal to the owner of that content, which could backfire depending on the situation. There are some exceptions that include removal of content containing sensitive personal information – in that case, you can submit a request to have the information omitted from a search engine’s results. But generally speaking, if having some level of control over your digital reputation is important to you, it’s critical to have a plan for managing it on an ongoing basis.

With that in mind, we developed a multi-pronged approach for improving our client’s overall online reputation. Key components included:

–Gaining control of old, duplicate websites
–Relaunching and optimizing one branded website
–Consolidating existing social media accounts and launching profiles on additional platforms
–Leveraging ongoing media events and opportunities
–Cross-promoting content with partner and affiliated websites
–Ongoing website and social media content management
–Ongoing media monitoring and rapid response

Within a few months of implementing the plan, we started to see significant improvements in the client’s search results. The negative news items were pushed out of the top 50 search results related to their name, the client’s branded website and social media profiles began to dominate their top 10 search results, and the majority of their top 50 search results were related to our SEO, media and cross-promotional activities. Most importantly, we had established a sustainable process for maintaining their digital platforms that provides a solid foundation for the client to manage their online reputation for years to come.

Heather Lauer, Owner of Villageous LLC, is a senior public affairs professional specializing in grassroots campaign strategy and management. She has over two decades of experience in communications strategy, digital advocacy, stakeholder relations, coalition building, and brand and reputation management.