We have all read the Yelp reviews, hit Google reviews online prior to a night on the town or slightly tilted our heads at a bad reviews for a restaurant on Zagat. Well nowadays a bad review can go quite far. I’m not just talking about two zip codes away far, I mean crossing the equator far! People don’t care to see your face in business anymore. Personally I could sit in my office eating twinkies all day without ever taking a meeting and still close deals, manage and arrange events, build partnerships and more. I have a friendly phone manner, however I digress.  The point is that people don’t care to meet you face to face, now face to face is how you are presented when they log on. This is why we invest on our razzle dazzle websites and advertising and also why we need to ensure our that online reputation remains clean.

Personally when I read reviews online, as a Publicist, I go through and think, created, created, created, REAL. Meaning that no one wants to say it but someone’s marketing team or PR firm sat there and created a on of reviews and then you land upon a real one. You can truly tell the difference.  Here is what it generally looks like: Five large paragraphs boasting about the same things that a general customer would NEVER notice or really even care about and then a small one that hits on a real experience. Now sometimes the real ones are actually good which is wonderful, but then there are the ones that at horrible and bash your business or bad to the ground.  These are the ones that you need to keep an eye on.  We have all heard that rule. A happy customer will tell three people while an unhappy customer will tell fifteen. Guess what, your fifteen just hit mass millions via Google with bashing reviews.

Many a review site syndicates to other online blogs, other smaller review sites and these negative reviews could single handedly reduce your income and kill your business. There are things that you can do to manage these items. Use a few of our classic Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR tips below.

Review your business processes and practices the caused the bad review

This out of any other tip is the most important. For every 10 people that have come across my desk asking me to help them with their Crisis Management PR and Reputation PR there are about 5 of them with absolutely terrible processes. Meaning yes, they are actually ripping people off without realizing it, providing shotty service at one point or another or lacking in a general area that needs to be fixed. No amount of amazing crisis management PR work, or retaining the best PR companies in the world can spin your business processes into positives. No I cannot scale that extremely large skyscraper wearing a spiderman costume. We can land you stories, get positive reviews, get you involved within new initiatives, but we cannot change bad business processes and practices. I tell clients to look at their processes and practices within first prior to investing in a PR campaign. What caused this review or negative article? Was there something that you could have done better? Is there a way to change your business practices or process so that a customer never has to experience this again? That is up to you. You can always begin reputation and crisis management PR without reviewing but it is not a smart idea.

Set Up Your Google Alerts ASAP

Google sends mail, Google has apps, Google has Circles, For Petes sake, Google can do a somersault in the UK and land on the wing of a plane taking off from NY JFK airport in a single bound. Now that’s some real time on demand action! Well did you know that Google can tell you almost immediately when something, anything hits online for your name, or your business name via Google Alerts. These alerts can come directly to your email or via text.  We’ve all seen Kim Kardashian look at her phone and say with a frowned brow “ Kourt!....I’ve just received a Google Alert” as she continues to discuss whatever may have just rattled her reputation online. Well kids that trusty PR tool is not just for celebrities. It is important for you to set them up and manage them. The sooner you know about someone attempting to ruin your reputation online, the easier it is to contain.

Obtain Positive Reviews From Real and Current Customers

Send out a simple email asking your customers to write a positive review for you. Happy customers are what I call sneezers. Sneezers  are what you want and if you provide amazing service sneezers are what you will get. Why do I call them that? Well when a person sneezes whatever they have, you can catch! Gross right? Well not in business. Sneezers will climb to the highest mountain and spread their “This company was AMAZING” germs. That is what you want.  They are your ultimate free PR and marketing tool.

Distribute Positive News Online About Your Business

Consistently distributing positive news about your company online is a really fast way to push down negative reviews, negative press or a negative perception of your company or brand. Just like bad reviews spread quickly, so does positive news. A press release about changing your business practices for the better, teaming up with a local charity to donate proceeds from all sales, positive partnerships or participating in uplifting community events. This shows the public that you are active within growing your business, brand or name in the right direction.  Without that you simply seem the dormant person that allows negative reviews to run wild about your company. Consumers are smart. They know that negative reviews are a part of business. How many are too many? What positive news does is it floods the web and pretty much makes it difficult for consumers to find old negativity.

Take Action

If your negative online reviews are unwarranted and greatly effecting your business then the best recourse is to immediately take action. List the sites that the negative reviews are on. Email them and state why it needs to be removed if the reviews are false. If they refuse to remove it then simply draft or have a lawyer draft a formal Cease and Desist letter and send it off to them. I bet you my last quarter that review will be down faster than you can blink. No one wants to be sued over a single false online review.  Be prepared for questions from the site owners. They want to ensure that you do have stellar business practices prior to removing anything for you. However if these are one off occurrences, they will help you. It is now time to retain a firm for Crisis Management PR.

Your online reputation is more important nowadays than that Brooks Brothers suit or that beautiful dress you just purchased from Bloomingdales for your next meeting. You are not landing anything, knocking out the competition, or selling with negative reviews online. Eliminate the negative and eliminate it fast.