Should Your Company Hire a Professional Reputation Management Firm?
One of the ever-present realities in the business world today is the need to maintain and track your business reputation online. The internet has forever changed the way in which the world does business and access to your business reputation is fed through numerous sources to amalgamate into one overarching online business reputation that is accessible to individuals simply by turning on their computer, opening their web browser, and typing the name of your company into the browser. Internet reputation management is one of the most important things for your business that you need to monitor and improve.
This creates both a risk and an opportunity for your business. Companies that are able to effectively manage and harness their business reputation can push their business to new heights. Companies that find their business reputation slip away are often hit by lagging sales and new competitors who are able to better capitalize on their own positive business reputation. Of course, your business reputation is fed by the way in which you treat your customers and sell products to them; when you keep your customers happy a positive reputation often ensues through word of mouth. This, however, can be a slow process and many industries don’t see that a positive word of mouth spreads as effectively as a negative one. Being proactive and managing your business reputation can be the catalyst for a successful business.
Having said that, managing your business reputation can be a real challenge and a big distraction for your business. A company’s management is often concentrating their efforts on managing their employees, maintaining vendor relationships, growing and expanding their customer base, and reporting on financial matters. Maintaining your business reputation on top of this can be an added stress and distraction for your company.
That is why many companies decide to bring in an external business reputation management firm to help to manage their business. An external business reputation management firm brings in some added benefits to the process and can be a smart choice for some, but not all, business. The major negative of using an external business reputation management firm is the added cost of hiring them, though there are numerous other negatives associated with using an external firm. One is an overall inconsistent message that your company may have as a result of using an external consultant to manage your business reputation but internal staff to handle your marketing and branding efforts. This divergence in styles can lead to confusion for customers and a lack of focus for business leaders and client facing salesmen who are looking to spread the word of the business. While this can often be managed and external consultants like business reputation management firms can be brought into alignment with a company’s planned internal communication, it is an additional challenge that a business will face. Finally, in addition to the cost of a business reputation management firm, using one can lead to a company’s internal staff losing sight of the important role that a reputation has on their business and can lead internal staff to lose sight of maintaining happy and satisfied customers. Despite these concerns, there are many posts that are associated with using an external management firm as well and consideration should be made for these factors as well.
Third party reputation management services have resources available to them that normal companies do not typically carry in-house. For one their staff members are more fully experienced in understanding and modifying the factors that will contribute to or detract from your online reputation and can help to better influence your online reputation. While your internal staff may be searching for solutions to a poor online reputation, the professionals that are typically working in an external business reputation management company will have seen the situation that is currently impacting you in their past and are aware of the potential solutions that can be implemented to resolve this circumstance in a manner that helps your reputation. This can lead to quicker and better solutions for your business reputation challenges.
An external reputation management firm’s resources go beyond their staff members. Many business reputation management firms have contacts in the media world and can use these contacts to help provide positive reviews and commentary on their websites which will weigh positively in the minds of customers. An example would be access to an online news site where they can have a positive review added to the site which can then be linked by other related sites. Third party sources often have a greater bearing on third parties than user reviews and these third party news sites can greatly influence users. Third party firms often develop relationships with major review sites and can develop methods for promoting positive reviews by liking them and making them more prominently viewed. Sometimes this is done through bots that will discreetly promote positive reviews thereby improving a company’s online reputation.
Further, reputation management firms are able to effectively track and monitor your online reputation better than you can internally do which ca help to improve the overall way in which they can measure results. While many of the commonly known tools that are used to improve a company’s reputation can be emulated by a company, it can be challenging for a business to understand how effective these items are and what additional refinement is needed by a company. A third party reputation management company is more effective at doing so.
Finally, many businesses are unable to take an objective view of their business model or approach. A third party consulting firm can help to provide management and others within an organization with an outside viewpoint on how they are addressing their business model and what the impact on their online business reputation is. This outside opinion can help a business to change their business practices and provide an outside perspective on how to address a poor reputation in a way that an organization would not be able to see from inside. In addition, best practices for business reputation management can be implemented thereby reducing the effort of future maintenance and care.
Whether a company decides to use a third party reputation management service or an internal firm is depending on their resources, marketing perspective, in-house capabilities and capacity, and industry. For many businesses, an outside business reputation management firm is the right choice, despite the added cost, as the improvement in your business reputation is commonly more dramatic and the company gains a tool in monitoring and measuring the impact that their improved business reputation has on their overall business.