When the shit hits the fan and you, your client, your company, or your brand ends up in the entirely wrong sort of spotlight and you don’t fully subscribe to the axiom “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right” then you’re going to need to focus on two things right away. In this order: first, of course, address the media about the issue in real life; second, preemptively and proactively prepare yourself for catastrophically-negative search results that will outlive and haunt you well past your devestating time in the limelight.
I can’t believe how many crisis management and online reputation management (ORM) articles I have not written since Donald J Trump was elected. I guess it’s because nobody in the current presidential administration cares very much about their collective reputations.
Sadly, in a crisis, online reputation management (ORM) is a little powerless to control the current attacks or really the outcome, ORM is really much more about repairing all the damage from a volleys of rockets, missiles, and firearms as much as possible during the assault, and then, more completely, after the initial attack and between attacks–on search and only on search.
Also, what ORM agencies like Gerris Corps are really here for is to armor the online reputation into the future so that there will be a lot less collapse from any sort of aggressive attack, and to make it harder for the current attack to take and keep hold of the first two pages of Google Search and Bing Search, both.
If the crisis you’re going through attracts any international, national, or local media attention–especially TV news and newspapers–Google will immediately prioritize those search results at the very top in the Top Stories boxes as well as in most of the top-10 to 10-20 search results. Hot news on dedicated news sites doesn’t really tend to stick onto the first two pages of Google much longer than the news cycle.
So, while you and all of your people are freaking out now about the state of your search, Google eventually moves on once the spotlight moves on to the next exciting thing. Like I keep on saying, Google only wants hot donuts–they don’t want tough, gummy, flaking two-day-old doughnuts. So, once your news is safely in the rear view, those hot news stories will mostly fall away from the search results.
What any good ORM practitioner of search remediation is all about building up the house, building up the brand, building up the beauty, building up the trust and respect underneath those ephemeral news articles so that any vandalism doesn’t stick as easily in the future and falls away naturally in the present.
Both nature and Google abhor a vacuum and there was a vacuum in the past and we’re here to fill it so this doesn’t happen as catastrophically into the future. Our goal, always, is to armor you so that if this happens in the future or there’s recurrence, the experience is both way more containable but also results in far less damage to the public eye.
One easy first step you can do for yourself right now is populating 21 social media sites, social networking sites, business networking sites, social writing sites, and blogging platforms with what you’re about. Feel free to use them as alternate channels for press releases and news. They’re useful on their own. Keep them up-to-date and populated or they will be archived in the Google search index.
It’s important to go well past creating chaff and flares defensive countermeasures consisting of only your own name, brand, company, or product, it’s essential to also promote everyone else’s. If your name is Chris Abraham then you should also bolster the reputation of all other Chris Abrahams that you can find in search because during a Google Search Results Crisis, neutral search results are as much of a win as are positive ones about me!
Be sure to go through the top-1,000 search results (the first 100-pages of Google search) in search of already-existing content that under your search string, without quotes or anything, that can activate, reactivate, promote, share, and optimize. Down the line, all the way to the thousandth result, things get really weird. Like the fish down at 1,000 meters: big googly eyes, blind, giant fangs, pale flanks! So, I like to take the deep content and bring it back to surface and sell it as Chilean Sea Bass instead of Antarctic toothfish.
At the end of the day, it’s most important to decide what you consider Positive, what you consider Negative, and what you consider Neutral search results. What is your point of pain? When we look for positive, neutral, and negative content, there’s always the client’s point of pain. We always want to know–and ask–what we can’t include and what we can promote.
Before you start, do an audit. Take a snapshot of the top-100 Google search results. If you’re really in the shit, the majority of the ack-ack is coming from mainstream media, newspapers, online magazines, and the web-news for international, national, and local news.
I know that seems like a terrible thing—and it is—but there is a silver-lining: Google lets go of news content in its primary search results pretty quickly. Why? Newspapers and their mainstream media brethren are masters of search engine optimization (SEO). If Google were to return results allowing the domination of mainstream news, we would never see the rest of that reliable and stable content.
Your goal should be—and this is what we at Gerris do for you at an enterprise level—is creating an entire world that includes the your search string, as in chris abraham, as well anyone else named Chris Abraham, as I’ve said before (as well as any variations of the theme such as deceased Mormon Elder Chris Abraham Christiansen) in such a way, using tried and true strategies, to make sure that once the anti-aircraft gunfire has calmed down, all the planes in the sky won’t all come crashing down back into your own house–but someone elses or noone at all, more hopefully. That, when the dust settles, only positive and neutral results will remain—well within your pain threshold.
Overall, you should be optimistic–though, remember, it’s impossible to fix a house when shoulder-fired-rockets, air-to-surface missiles, mortars, and belt-fed machine guns are letting loose on it. You need to be willing and able to do the equivalent of building a fully-constructed prefab home that you can replace the rubble with once the shelling stops—or at least slows down to just requiring a repair here and there. I won’t lie to you, it sucks for months and months and these campaigns are mostly half-paid upfront 12-month contracts.
Embrace the suck!
There’s a lot of work for you to do but it’s also essential that you don’t overpopulate too quickly, because Google has natural defenses against some of these strategies. Like someone who has almost died from hunger and thirst, you always need to reintroduce food and especially water slowly and judiciously at first in order to make sure you don’t make things worse before they get better. Getting sandboxed for being a little too aggressive is often worse than not enough, especially when there’s this active reputation assault/crisis happening as we speak.
Good luck and try to stay out of trouble, will you?
Feel free to own the yacht but hire a crew if you’re not yet seaworthy. If you get my drift and want to adopt the yachting lifestyle yourself but either don’t have the mad sailing skills yourself, don’t yet posses a world-class crew, and don’t know yet where to go, then you should give me a call or reach out me by email — so I can help you pilot your vessel now, in the tranquil blue-green shallows of the Caribbean, as well as in the roughest seas and into — as well as out of — the storm.