Online Reputation Management Blog

Online Reputation Management for Teachers

reputation-management-for-teachersBullying was taken to a whole other level last summer with the case of school bus aide Karen Klein, who was verbally assaulted by a group of boys.  Not only was she brought down in front of a bus full of kids, but her tormentors videotaped her reaction and posted it online, and it quickly went viral. This phenomenon has its own buzzword: cyberbaiting, defined as students baiting their teachers, filming the embarrassing/upsetting footage, and posting it to social media sites.  According to a Norton Online Family Report study from 2011, one in five teachers has either personally experienced cyberbaiting or cyberbullying knows someone who has.

North Carolina is the first state to respond to the issue by creating a law to criminalize the bullying of teachers.  Students can face misdemeanor charges, fines and/or probation if convicted of tormenting or intimidating a teacher online.  Some argue that the law could infringe on the students’ free speech, but teachers in North Carolina support it, stating that they felt a need for reputation management, both online and in the real world.

The Norton Online Family Report found that although 67 percent of teachers acknowledge that interacting with their students via social media is risky, 34 percent of them continue to do so. Additionally, only 51 percent of teachers said that a social media code of conduct exists at their school, while 80 percent of teachers and 70 percent of parents wish for more online safety instruction in the schools.

What are some best practices for search engine reputation management?  Below are some tips on how to appropriately use social media to protect yourself and your students.

1.  Secure your private life. It’s okay to have your own private social media pages, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.  But be sure that your security settings are set at the highest levels. This will allow you to talk and post photos of your personal life without letting nosy students in on the details (and you know they’ll be searching for it).

2.  Use social media wisely.  Many teachers argue that social media is a great way to connect with students, particularly high school students.  Public Twitter or Facebook pages dedicated to your class can help foster relationships and discussions on the course material during off hours.  The key here is transparency: ensure that the page is set so that only your students are interacting with each other, while allowing parents and administrators to view and monitor the conversations.  With allegations of student-teacher misconduct an issue all over the country, discretion and good judgment by teachers are more important than ever.

3.  Don’t gossip.  Even if your Facebook page is 100% private, err on the side of caution and refrain from posting about your students’ classroom behavior, inappropriate dress or incomprehensible essays.  Comments can be copied and reposted or forwarded and create serious problems to classroom morale.

4.  Don’t handle any defamation issues by yourself.  If you do find yourself in a situation where you are being bullied or defamed online, don’t attempt to handle it yourself. Involve your school district and union as soon as possible and document every action.

5.  Hire an online reputation management company.  An online reputation management firm, like Reputation Rhino, can assist you in privatizing your social media accounts and bury negative or embarrassing information about you online.

Online Reputation Management for Schools

reputation-management-for-schoolsAll across the country, stories of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students are becoming headline news and inevitably the principal, administration, school board and school district are dragged into a bizarre media circus.  The incident becomes a public spectacle tarnishing the reputation of dozens of well-intentioned educators and their colleagues.  A thoughtful reputation management strategy can help faculty and school administrators better manage the situation.

Sometimes, these inappropriate relationships begin with the student and teacher exchanging text or Facebook messages outside of school. During the 2010-2011 school year in Texas, 111 cases of sexual misconduct and 152 cases of inappropriate relationships were documented between teachers and students.  Texas officials are blaming social media and texting for enabling these inappropriate relationships and angry parents are blaming the school and its teachers.

Online interaction between teachers and students are not inherently bad and in most cases are constructive and support a school’s educational goals. We cannot allow the misuse of technology to lead to its abolition.

However, it’s important to clearly outline some basic guidelines to protect schools and faculty and help prevent inappropriate situations from destroying a school’s reputation.

1.  Implement rules on social media for staff. Working together with your staff and their union representatives, collaborate on ways to place policies on personal and work-related social media use. Districts that enacted these types of policies generally prohibit teachers and students from becoming friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter. Additionally, teachers and students are prohibited from sharing personal contact information, like cell phone numbers, in order to avoid texting between the two parties. One exception to this rule tends to be for athletic coaches who, with permission from the child’s parents, are allowed to text their student athletes regarding practice times.

2.  Use social media wisely.  Consider starting a Facebook page or Twitter feed to communicate with parents; this could be especially useful during school closings, as a reminder about events, and as a way to field questions and concerns. When it comes to interfacing with students via social media, stick to Blackboard or similar sites, as it projects a high level of professionalism and lets students know that this is still “school property.”

3.  Create expectations for your students about social media.  Let your students know that they are responsible for their actions online. This is essential for social media reputation management. Create a student agreement policy to teach your students about appropriate social media usage.

4.  Use social media reactively.  Have written plans in place to be reactive when something negative hits the news, and use social media as a part of your crisis communication plan.  Make sure teachers and other staff are aware of how to respond or if they should respond to any communications crisis.  Adapt your school’s Facebook, Twitter and website to issue public statements and assign communications specialists to respond to difficult questions and comments.

5.  Hire the best online reputation management company.  Retaining an online reputation management firm as an extension of your PR or communications team will help your school district add an extra layer of protection in the digital age.  An online reputation management company, like Reputation Rhino, can quickly implement an online public relations strategy that can counter negative press or blog articles maligning a school during a difficult time.

Online Reputation Management for Real Estate Agents

reputation-management-for-real-estate-agentsThe perfect example for the need for online reputation management for real estate agents took place four years ago when a real estate agent and blogger for Redfin, a real estate company, blasted her competitor in an unauthorized blog post.  The responses by other real estate bloggers and subsequent media attention drew greater attention and visibility to the negative post.  Redfin responded by firing the offender, but the post remains in its entirety with a disclaimer from Redfin’s CEO with a link to their retraction and apology.

As competitive as the real estate business is, it’s essential to ensure that your online reputation is clean online and offline.

Below are some tips on reputation services that can enhance your image online and what to do if you are negatively attacked by a competitor.

1.  Play nice.  Yes, real estate competition can be brutal.  No matter how badly you want to respond to a negative attack, it pays to maintain decorum online.  If you find yourself the victim of a negative review from a client, or a bashing from a competitor, step back before responding.  Remember, just as their words are immortalized online, so are yours.

2.  Showcase the positive.  Start your own blog detailing your personal successes as a real estate agent. Showcase the houses you recently sold and what you have on the market, the rise and fall of local home values, and the ways the housing market is recovering and how an experienced real estate agent makes a difference.  Highlight positive reviews and testimonials from former clients.  Also consider using your blog to offer general real estate advice.

3.  ActiveRain, LinkedIn and Facebook.  Start an account with all three social sites to maximize your networking potential and link to your primary website to push your profile to the top of a Google search.

4.  Hire an online reputation management company.  Let the experts help you promote your name and business online while you focus on selling homes.  A reputation management company can help you take create a positive online profile through social media, local directory listings and authoritative local news sites.

Online Reputation Management for Insurance Companies and Insurance Agents

reputation-management-for-insurance-companiesNegative blog posts can quickly go viral and reputation management can’t always repair the damage, as Progressive Insurance recently found out.  An angry consumer posted a blog on Tumblr detailing the struggles his family had with Progressive Insurance following the death of his sister in a car accident.  His sister was insured with Progressive; the man who killed her was underinsured.  Progressive declined to cover her significant expenses.

The family was forced to sue the person who caused the accident in order to force Progressive to pay up.  In a shocking move, Progressive actually sent a team of lawyers to defend the at-fault driver in order to avoid paying out on the policy.  The post caused a firestorm on social media.

The bereaved family ultimately won the case, but for Progressive, the reputational damage left Flo flummoxed…

The Progressive Insurance example demonstrates how quickly a customer complaint can spin out of control and be magnified under the harsh light of social media.  It is an important lesson in online brand reputation management.

The following strategies can help you keep your insurance company or insurance agency out of trouble.

1.  React quickly when faced with criticism online.  You’ve probably already encountered unhappy customers; it’s the nature of the insurance business.  But when people who are upset and stressed take out their feelings without a filter online, you need to be prepared to react immediately.  Set up Google alerts or a more advanced social media monitoring service so that any mention of you or your company (and employees) is immediately emailed to you.  This will help you immediately react to the comments.  While you’ll need to work quickly to respond to the negative comments, still take the time to cool down and proofread your response before posting it to a site like or via Twitter or Facebook. The last thing you want to do is argue with a customer online.

2.  Ask clients to give you an online review.  To help prevent negative comments from making it to the front page of a Google search, ask your happy clients to give you a positive online review.  By proactively working on your online image, you will have a fence of goodwill to keep out negative reviews.

3.  Communicate actively via social media.  Use Facebook and Twitter to talk to your customers on a daily basis.  Don’t just wait till a crisis when you need to do online reputation repair.  Offer tips on how to save money on insurance, explain the different kinds of products available and respond to customer questions and concerns.  By offering advice, especially on how to save money, you are positioning yourself as an insurance expert and your company as a “go to” provider.

4.  Hire a reputation management agency.  It’s hard to manage an online public relations campaign and your insurance practice. Hiring a top-rated online reputation management firm will help you dominate the first page of Google while helping to bury any negative reviews or defamatory posts.