Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Let Your Good Reputation Precede You

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Let Your Good Reputation Precede You

Article excerpt

It has never been easy to disappear, as Dr Crippen found out thanks to the electric telegraph. Nowadays you must not pose for a quick snap with a Panama City estate agent if you want to create a new life in the sunshine, far from the reach of the law.

In one of those small turning points that demonstrate how investigative journalism and law enforcement have been transformed, all it took to make a good story a great one, and to destroy at least a couple of reputations, was for someone to type the words John, Anne and Panama into Google.

But the processes that led to Mr and Mrs Darwin getting their collars felt are causing potential mayhem for brand reputations.

Courtesy of the magic of web 2.0, negative stories about companies and brands can be disseminated in seconds. Pressure groups can be assembled in a flash, as the bank found out when graduate students campaigned against the 'great HSBC rip-off'.

But there is evidence that the marketing community is using technology to fight back and online reputation management has come of age as a discipline.

Nielsen, the market information group, monitors the online 'buzz' about a firm or product on a five-minute frequency. Chime takes a longer perspective. Like politicians, businesses have to fight the battle for reputation and influence on a daily basis - campaigns every four years won't do any more.

Some companies, such as mining group Rio Tinto, appear defensive, partly because their role is to dig very big holes in the ground, so they inevitably face environmental opponents. But with the help of a small company called Market Sentinel, Rio Tinto has developed sophisticated measures of who truly wields influence in their world - and it is not the usual suspects.

When it comes to real influence, Mark Rogers of Market Sentinel believes most journalists and even organisations like the BBC rank well down the pecking order, as they mainly pass on information from other sources For Rio Tinto, which does not have consumer brands, the real influence to be encouraged flows from original sources such as government ministers and academic specialists in acid rain. In contrast, Simon McPhillips, head of global media at BP, which does sell direct to the public, sees enormous opportunities in using every available outlet to engage with customers, given 'the decline of the old advertising model'. …

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