PR/PR is a full-service boutique publicity agency specializing in professional speakers, consultants, and non-fiction authors. We place our clients in front of their target audience through print media and online sources.

The Internet is the New Highschool Hallway

High school was the certifiable nerve center for gossip and rumor. Hallways were constantly abuzz with mutterings of ‘who’s seeing who,’ ‘who did what last weekend,’ and where your reputation felt like the crux of your campus presence. In retrospect, those juvenile murmurs were inconsequential; you’re a successful business owner, you’ve carved a lucrative niche in your local community. The locker-fodder of your past contemporaries is a triviality of your teenage years.

There’s a new loudmouth lurking the corridors of your corporate reality, however: your followers online. Unlike your adolescent notoriety that usually fades when graduation caps are sent airborne, your social media reputation will follow you around like a laser-sighted black cloud until your business collapses or you make the changes to mitigate it.

While the social-media-stubborn may attribute little value to the opinion of some anonymous keyboard-critic, the fact of the matter is, with the advent of Yelp and other aggregate review websites, managing your online standing is of monumental importance.

Many paths can be taken to safeguard your social media rep, each with varying degrees of efficiency and effectiveness. By far, the most productive way to employ your social media platforms in a reputation-management manner is to bolster your customer service capability.

Addressing your customer’s concerns in an expedited fashion through wall-posts, direct-messages or comments will fortify the online community’s impression of your business as an involved, client-focused organization. Dominos will begin to fall in your favor as word of your customer-service prominence circulates the Web, creating new and lifelong supporters alike.

As with most situations in life, when problems arise, cooler heads typically prevail. The same is true online. If you’re forced into crisis-management mode, be it the result of a scathing review blasted on your Facebook wall or an ill-advised status update, the key is to avoid confrontation and address the matters in a calm, dignified way. Any negative-reaction on your part will rapidly trump the initial issue, and potentially amplify the story: affecting your business in the long-run. Try to direct any possibly damaging subjects to a phone or email conversation, where they can be rectified in private.

The word about you in cafeterias and classrooms represents a brief period of your life, but the word circulating the net is the online-embodiment of your business prowess. Take every avenue available to assure that your social media cohorts have nothing but positive things to say.

-Carter Breazeale

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