Reputations are on the line on-line

I ran across a interesting topic on crisisblogger concerning executive worry about online reputations.  It drew on a story from PRweek about a survey taken called Risky Business: Reputation Online.  What struck me most was that of the 700 top executives surveyed, 66% of them were unaware that their reputations online were being effected by their own employees  sharing their opinions.

With the population of online conversationalists growing rapidly it is easy to assume that reputations are being shattered or brightened through blogs or forums by the minute.  Not only are consumers and journalists publicsizing facts or feelings about certain companies and organizations, but the those who play an inside role (the employees) are speaking up, or I should say: posting up.

As the ongoing etchical debate of credible blogging continues, taking an objective approach to everything we read is highly suggested.  As crisisblogger says, “The speed with which rumors, accusations, revelations and misinformation can fly in these hyper-networks is unprecedented.”  Like we learn in journalism school and hopefully known from common sense, we always need to evaluate the content  that we read and take it with a grain of salt.

The PRweek story brings up a good point about how this tough economic time can effect all companies, and upset employees with blogs are no exception.  As people with a passion for public relations, but also Americans who appreciate the right to free speech, how do we manage our reputation in a world where one post can make all the difference?  What can we do to continue to build an image while we know others have the right to an opinion that can break us down?

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4 Responses to Reputations are on the line on-line

  1. elwhite2 says:

    This is an extremely difficult thing to control. You are completely right when you say that the economy is tough and people might be blogging about their company that could damage their image. I would say that the best thing we can do is try to keep our employees happy. There really isn’t much we can do unless the comments are destructive. The client I am working with in my PR class is extremely worried about this and does not want to become a part of these social media networks for that reason in particular. The free stream of blogging can either help you by spreading great press, or it can also hurt you by an upset blogger’s comments.

  2. mlmyers says:

    I’ve been reading a lot about the online world making it hard for people to keep a clean reputation these days. The thing that has me most confused is why certain things that may be posted about someone on the internet can change peoples’ opinions before they had any personal experience with the individual. I know that there is no getting around building up opinions in your head about someone’s’ half-naked spring break pictures, but not hiring someone because a former employee wrote mean things about them online is a different story. It seems like there is a whole high school feel to the online world. I don’t know if it is because the whole face-to-face aspect is not available with the internet and that makes it easier to believe everything you read online, but it seems like some of the information belongs on the wall of a bathroom stall. When was the last time you believed what you read on a bathroom stall? I just think it is important for people to check the credibility of the sources who are defacing people’s reputations. You usually cross-reference information found on the internet, so why would researching a potential employee be any different?

  3. cafuller says:

    This seems to be such a difficult issue. We’ve been told, and told again, to be careful about what we put “out there.” Well, what happens when you can’t control what others put out there about you? This is definitely a culture where rumors fly. As comfortable as we all are with using the internet for pretty much every aspect of our lives now, we seem to still have the impression that there is a distinct division between the online world and the real world. Well, we need to get used to the fact that, today, everything mixes together, and there’s no hiding. We’ve learned in our PR class about all of the different communication theories and how to incorporate them into successful public relations. The General Systems theory is essential in the disgruntled employee situation you mentioned. It is so important that businesses keep in touch with their employees’ thoughts, feelings and attitudes. After all, how successful can an organization be if it has a dysfunctional core?

  4. tmpace says:

    The ideally a workplace should be a glasshouse. Where outsiders can look in, and the people know they are being watched. But unfortunately people forget that what goes around, comes around. If you make an office environment unbearable then the employees will speak up. Our jobs as PR practitioners is to manage this image. To implement strategies to protect this precious image. In high school nasty myspace blog could ruin your reputation for weeks. In the workplace it is almost the same.

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