July 1st, 2010 | Edwin Dearborn, Chief Brand Officer

Sooner or later someone will complain. And now, it just may go viral beyond your typical public relations crisis management strategy that you were taught ten years ago. And no one knows that more in 2010 than BP. Without a doubt, social media, bloggers and online reviews with companies such as Yelp, can be a major influence on how people perceive you and whether or not they choose to purchase or associate with your brand. You must have a public relations reputation management plan in place in today’s online world. More importantly, you need to have a proactive online PR plan in action, way before any possible complaint or cataclysm hits your shores. This starts with vigilant monitoring of what is being said about your brand.

Monitoring the reviews about you in blogs and other online review sites is a critical component of public relations and reputation management for any company or prominent person. Every company should start this process by subscribing to RSS feeds of search results on their company name from blog and news search engines like Technorati, set up a Google Alerts account or use the BlogPulse conversation tracker.

According to a report by MarketingCharts.com, second only to word-of-mouth, online reviews are the second most influential factor in whether or not a person chooses to do business with someone. And those who do comments are extremely active in that only 9% of the web users are contributing 80% of the content within the internet.

But there is an upside to this perilous story. Social media allows two-way communication so that you can interact with detractors and those who have become dissatisfied with your service or brand. At least the response is visible so as to be able to detect and rapidly address this problem, just like computer giant Dell had  accomplished, as clearly illustrated in the video accompanying this blog post.

Social media, interacting with bloggers and even listening to the oft critical online reviews can be a positive catalyst for dialogue, addressing internal customer service issues otherwise undetectable and even small points that allow one to allow a better relationship with your core customer base. Ensure that you have an online PR plan that monitors what is being said, as well as having a proactive approach to delivering powerful messages to reinforce what is exciting, positive and relative about your brand.

Tags: , , , , ,