Managing your online reputation

    Business Spotlight 6/2024
    a man putting up a star on a rating display
    © Georg Lechner
    Von Talitha Linehan

    In many ways, perceptionWahrnehmungperception is everything, and this is certainly true in business. The way in which companies, individuals, products and services are perceivedetw. wahrnehmenperceived by the public largely determines their marketability and can have enormous consequences, either negative or positive; professional or personal.

    Today, it’s mainly online where opinions are shaped and expressed. What information comes up about you or your business on the internet? Is it fair and accuratezutreffendaccurate? And if not, can you do something about it? This question has created a new industry that’s worth over $300 million a year in North America alone. Online-reputation management (ORM) companies specialize in influencing and, more often, repairing their clients’ reputations on the internet.

    One such company is Nadernejad Media Inc., based in Canada, which has helped repair the reputations of hundreds of clients since it was foundedetw. gründenfounded in 2015. Its founder and director, Nader Nadernejad, says the best thing anyone can do to protect themselves from reputational damage is to build a solid online profile, because negative feedback can be directed at anyone or any business, and can spiral out of controlaußer Kontrolle geratenspiral out of control. “It can be somebody who’s jealouseifersüchtig, neidischjealous of you,” he told Business Spotlight. “It can be one mistake that changes your whole life. If you don’t have that presence on the internet, when something negative comes up, it’s the only thing people will know you for.”

    “It can be one mistake that changes your life”

    The importance of reputation

    In a 2020 study by the communications and marketing firm Weber Shandwick, global executivesFührungskraftexecutives said that, on average, 63 per cent of their companies’ market value was based on reputation. It’s therefore not surprising that reputational damage can be so costlykostspieligcostly and, in extreme cases, even lead to bankruptcyInsolvenzbankruptcy.

    Often, the damage is caused by something a company or individual says or does — misguidedverfehlt, fehlgeleitetmisguided advertising campaigns and other PR disasters are not rare. There’s never any guarantee that a message will be understood in the way it is intended. In 2021, the restaurant chain Burger King UK posted that “women belong in the kitchen”. It was meant to promote gender diversity in the restaurant industry and announce a scholarshipStipendiumscholarship programme for female employees to train as chefKoch/Köchinchefs. None of those good intentions stand outhervorstechenstood out, however. Instead, people simply found the phrase insensitiveunsensibel, taktlosinsensitive — it was posted on International Women’s Day.

    Many US and global companies have suffered reputational damage. Sometimes, this is the result of communication gone wrong, but it may also be deserved after relevationEnthüllungrevelations of questionablefragwürdigquestionable business practices. Back in 2017, Apple had to apologizesich entschuldigenapologize to its customers for purposelyabsichtlichpurposely slowing down batteries in its older phones. The company later offered a reduced price to replace those batteries.

    There are many potential causes of reputational damage, including technical or accountingRechnungswesenaccounting mishapMissgeschick, Pannemishaps, poor customer service or quality control and, sometimes, plain old bad luck. Reputations take a long time to establish, but they can be lost in an instantsofort, im Handumdrehenin an instant.

    ORM in practice

    While it might sound as though the easiest option would be to avoid the internet entirely, Nadernejad says that online representation is too important to ignore. “If people can find you and they can see what you do and they have records of what you do, they can trust you,” he says. “It’s almost insuranceVer-, Absicherunginsurance. The more real estateImmobilien; hier: verfügbarer Raum, Bildschirmflächereal estate you own on the first page [of internet search results], the more proactive you can be in case something negative does happen.”

    If negativity towards a business is the result of an online article, Nadernejad says you can try to have the article removed, but this is difficult and works “less than 20 per cent of the time”. He also suggested creating a page on your website where you address sth.etw. ansprechen, thematisierenaddress the negativity: “If anyone asks about it, you can direct them there.” However, the best tactic, he says, is simply to continue publishing new content: “While you’re having fun telling your story, you’ll notice that the negative content begins to drop out of sth.aus etw. herausfallen; hier: verschwindendrop naturally out of the search results.”

    This is what Nadernejad’s ORM company focuses on: generating and spreading positive articles and videos, especially those that appear on the first page of Google, that outweigh sth.gegenüber etw. überwiegenoutweigh the negative content. His team uses SEO (search engine optimization)SuchmaschinenoptimierungSEO on a variety of platforms and cross-medial content to maximize outreachReichweite; hier auch: Nutzerkontaktoutreach.

    It’s also about making first impressions count. Nadernejad explains that ORM also covers “images that pop up, and the language and the tonalityTonalität; hier: Grundtontonality, because whenever we read something, we instantly make a judgement”. He has also worked with traditional media to create mainstream media tractionMedienpräsenz (traction, Zugkraft)media traction — positive articles from respectedangesehenrespected news sources help to promote a business and establish trust.

    A growing industry

    ORM companies are discreet, guaranteeing confidentialityVerschwiegenheitconfidentiality to their clients, who often don’t wish to reveal sth.etw. offenlegenreveal their use of such services — or how much they pay for them. As a result, meaningful statistics are hard to find. However, a report by Market Research, Inc., estimated the value of the ORM industry in North America at $301.5 million in 2020 — it’s expected to more than double, to around $650 million, by 2029.

    “ORM is going to be totally different in five or ten years, because the algorithm is always changing,” Nadernejad explains. “Google is definitely aware that ORM exists, and there are people who are trying to, in their opinion, game (an algorithm)(einen Algorithmus) manipulierengame the algorithm or etw. unterdrücken, zurückhaltensuppress sth.suppress content.” He also expects further changes from the increasing use of voice and facial-recognition technologyStimm- und Gesichtserkennungstechnologievoice and facial-recognition technology. ORM companies will have to stay on top of sth.den Überblick über etw. behaltenstay on top of these changes, monitor sth.etw. kontrollierenmonitoring everything that influences the information we see online.


    • doxingetwa: internet-basiertes Zusammentragen und Veröffentlichen personenbezogener DatenDoxing” is against Google’s personal content and product policy. upon requestauf AnfrageUpon request, Google can remove certain information about you
    • Avoid using aggressive language online, such as in Google reviewBewertungreviews. And don’t use the same email address that you use for job applicationBewerbungapplications, for example
    • monitor sth.etw. kontrollierenMonitor activity on social media and reply to comments positively
    • Keep your professional online profile up-to-date


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