The Internet provides VIP and celebrity personalities with an unprecedented opportunity to reach out and interact with fans. Unfortunately, the anonymity available online also creates a platform where VIPs and celebrities can be attacked viciously. It is the foolhardy VIP or celebrity who doesn’t have an active online reputation management plan in place.
VIP Reputation Management and Protection
Reputation management for celebrities and VIPs consists of a three-step process:
- Define your profile;
- Monitor social media comments;
- Respond to attacks in an appropriate way.
Defining Your VIP Profile
The web has become an environment where every VIP and celebrity should expect to receive both positive and negative comments. To many people, Angelina Jolie is a humanitarian, due to her efforts as a U.N. Ambassador. To others, she is the person who swept Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston. While both views can be justified, such heated opinions are not always a bad thing when posted online – if the profile of the celebrity benefits from such controversy.
Other celebrities have built their brands by not only being controversial, but being as controversial as possible. In cases like these, their reputation management efforts are primarily focused on making sure that they are in the limelight, rather than attempting to balance positive and negative comments.
VIPs are usually at the other end of the scale. Since banks are extremely unpopular businesses, bank managers are going to be regularly subjected to significant criticism on Twitter and other social platforms, for example. In this case, their reputation management firms would be wise to develop strategies that address any negative comments which go viral.
VIP Brand Monitoring Tools
Whatever approach celebrities or VIPs take in defining their brand, any reputation management plan requires a system for monitoring the web (particularly social media) for negative comments. Google Alerts is a good place to start, but using specific software applications will always lead to better results.
Responding to Online Reputation Attacks
Developing a specific response to a negative social media development must be undertaken carefully. This is where so many celebrities go wrong. Posting an angry message or threatening to sue is rarely the right choice. A better social media strategy is almost always to use humor to refute the claim, or to at least define it in a more acceptable manner.
What about photo hacks? iCloud’s hacking resulted in hundreds of intimate celebrity selfies being posted online, and the legal counsel for those celebrities seem to have performed poorly when the images were released online. Counsel should have immediately started issuing cease and desist letters, as well as takedown demands pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
If this proper course of action had been pursued, the images in question would have never appeared in search results.
Online Reputation Management for Politicians
As public figures, elected officials are fair game online and have little protection under defamation laws. This does not mean that online reputation management is useless for politicians! In fact, it is extremely valuable, because it provides the means of presenting a politician’s side of a contested issue, while bypassing the filter of the news media, and communicating directly with the public.
There is one major step every politician should pursue to protect and manage his reputation online: search results management.
According to a Pew Research Center Study, 47% of voters go online to research politicians during election seasons. This research is usually initiated by searching Google, Yahoo or Bing for the politician’s name.
The goal of SEO reputation management is to ensure that the results presented to the voter are positive. To accomplish this, search engine optimization is used to push all negative listings off the first page of results. Here are the key steps:
- Set up a website in the name of the politician;
- Create positive press releases for the politician and distribute them online;
- Create profiles for the politician on major social media sites;
- Arrange interviews with major media outlets on an ongoing basis;
- Build links to each of the pages with positive articles or mentions.
The website and profiles on major social media sites should fill roughly five of the ten possible listings on the first search engine results page. Press releases could fill a few more spots, but are still weak listings when it comes to reputation management protection.
Over time, the goal is to replace the weak listings with various interviews undertaken with the media, because search engines normally rank media sites highly in the search results. For example, a transcript of an interview with a politician, which is published on the website of a major city newspaper, will usually rank in the top ten search results for the name of the politician.
Celebrity Brand Management Techniques and Tips
Brand management is particularly critical for a celebrity, because celebrity popularity is fragile. When undertaking celebrity brand management techniques, there are three important steps:
- Develop a thick skin;
- Continually provide new and provocative content;
- Only react to negative comments if they are going viral.
Best Buzz Monitoring Tools
Every VIP, celebrity and politician should have a team dedicated to protecting their reputation online. Two of the better tools to facilitate this process are:
- Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a free, simple tool which sends emails whenever content that mentions a specific word or phrase is being published online. The management team can set up an alert for the name of the VIP, celebrity or politician. Then, whenever that name is mentioned on a blog or a news site, Google emails the details. The posts can then be reviewed and appropriate actions are taken.
Actionly.com is a social media monitoring tool. The software allows the brand management team to monitor all mentions of the celebrity’s name on the top social media websites, capturing the posts and presenting them in a dashboard format. This allows the reputation management team to spend time addressing potentially sticky situations immediately, rather than wasting hours hunting for comments on hundreds of social media sites.
Social Media Management for Celebrities
Social media websites allow celebrities to interact directly with their fans without being worried about their safety. While this interaction should be natural whenever it is possible, it’s also important to develop a social media management plan that helps avoid potential problems.
For celebrities, the first rule of a social media management plan should be to post frequently and respond rarely. Posting frequently keeps the fans engaged, while replying rarely to posts and messages prevents the development of the expectation that the celebrity will always be available, and disappointment when he or she is not.
The second rule of social media management is to ignore critical noise unless it either goes viral or consists of criticism from individuals or forums with large followings. A negative post from Bobby X in Cleveland who has 19 followers on Twitter does not merit a response, while a DUI rumor posted by TMZ most definitely does.
Write, take a break, review, and then post. This is the third key aspect of managing celebrity social media accounts. Posting a message in the heat of the moment is unwise; professional athletes are infamous for making this mistake.
Social media can be dangerous – particularly Twitter. Before posting, take the time to think about how that tweet might be viewed by others. If there is any doubt as to the appropriateness of the message, it is often wise to ask someone else to read it before sending it.
Don’t Risk a Celebrity / VIP / Politician Brand
Whether or not you believe the old cliché that “even bad PR is good PR”, it is clear that social media and online news sites turn “any PR” into “immediate PR.”
Celebrities and VIPs can’t ignore what is being said about them online, because any comment about a celebrity stands a great chance of going viral. The establishment of a reputation management plan is the best way to deal with this new reality.