People often confuse online reputation management (ORM) with reputation management. While there is some overlap, they are two different animals and require very different skill sets.
Reputation management is a component of corporate operations. (According to the Reputation Institute, the practice encompasses measurement, organizational alignment, social responsibility, financial valuation, workplace environment, leadership, governance and branding.) Reputation management affects every internal aspect of a corporation, including risk management and shareholder value. Most companies that rate high in annual reputation surveys, for example, have excellent customer service, employee retention and product ratings. When they do experience a crisis their strong reputations enable them to quickly rebound – Toyota is a good example.
Online reputation management entails establishing, managing and monitoring the publicly available online information about an individual, an organization or a brand. ORM uses a blend of content, search engine optimization and strategic planning to influence whether the information appears on page one of a Google search or page seven. (A simplistic way I describe ORM to friends is to say that it focuses on two things: moving online content higher and moving it lower.)
The content and commentary that appears online can impact an organization’s reputation, and is a concern of reputation managers, who increasingly head the communications departments of major companies. But it is the skill set of online reputation management professionals that is generally used to address such issues.
Online reputation management is commonly thought of as the way to remove negative commentary. But it is far more than that.