The last six years has seen a marked growth in the number of companies offering reputation management services. Their clients are more than just
youthful revelers who have made ill-advised posts to social media websites. Reputation management is “the new black” in corporate strategy, according to Bruce Rogers, Forbes magazine’s Chief Insights Officer. “In their fight to increase revenue, grow market share, increase the stock price, attract and retain the best talent, and secure their license to operate, companies are turning their focus on their reputation,” he writes.
In short, reputation management is becoming big business! In addition to newer businesses, global public relations companies are increasingly focusing their offerings on online reputation management and online reputation risk. It is, Bruce Rogers says, a growth industry.
The new online reputation management businesses help their clients suppress and even erase negative or unflattering content from the World Wide Web. Sometimes it involves a self-inflicted wound – negative content put there by clients themselves. In other instances, negative material is put there by someone else. Reputation management firms work with them all, large and small.
“I believe that we are heading into an era where there will be the equivalent of a “WikiLeaks” moment for everyone,” said the chief executive of one such firm. “Every two weeks we find new and novel ways that people can be harmed on the Web.”
He warned that since the Web is constantly changing, it is impossible for people to keep track of what they have shared online in the past. The likelihood is very high, he went on, that something will come back to affect them negatively later.
Even staying off the Web may not be an effective strategy for avoiding negative content. “Most of the harm doesn’t come from dumb stuff you’ve done yourself,” the CEO said. “Someone could have taken a photograph of you, put it online, and tagged you in it and it’s there forever.”