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Partner Spotlight: David Oates of Public Relations Security

We’re excited to introduce you to David Oates of Public Relations Security, one of our Content Partners.  Partners support Voyage by collaborating on content, sponsoring our mission, spreading the word about our publication and more. We caught up with David about the online reputation karma and other insights related to protecting your brand’s reputation online.

Hi David, before we get into some of the really interesting insights you have around online reputation karma, can you start by giving our readers a bit of introduction to yourself, your story and your firm.
I’m a Crisis PR specialist, which means I help companies, business executives, and high-profile individuals preserve or repair their brand reputation after being besieged in online reviews like Yelp!, blog postings, social media posts, and press coverage. Ideally, I want owners to call me BEFORE things get into the public domain so we can get ahead of the problem. Even better is when organizations help me devised Crisis PR plans a part of their overall disaster recovery strategies. It’s far cheaper and more effective when you’re not building the response initiatives after the fact.

I started in PR 25 years ago as a Navy officer. About halfway through a nine-year, active-duty career, I got the unique opportunity to transition from a Surface Warfare Officer to a Public Affairs Officer. In that capacity, I served in multiple roles, but the most notable was leading a staff of eight in all employee, external, international, and community relations initiatives for the aircraft carrier, USS JOHN C. STENNIS, and the eight other ships that formed the battlegroup deployed to the Persian Gulf. That environment came with a litany crisis PR events of all kinds, and I spearheaded those efforts. I couldn’t have received better training for my current role.

Alright, so let’s jump right in.  We’ve long been impressed by the thought-leadership you’ve shown around how small and medium businesses can manage their reputations.  One of the concepts we’d love to have you discuss is online reputation karma.  Can you explain this concept and how it’s relevant to our readers who own or manage brands and businesses?
I think most organizations don’t fully appreciate the damage a Google or Yelp! Review, let alone an old blog post, can do if Google ranks this content high on searches for the company’s name or that of its owners and executives. The long-term, negative impact on a business’ revenue and profitability can, in best cases, hinder growth goals and, worst case, can force a company to close its doors forever. That’s because most customers will go online to search out information about a business before buying. A negative post from the past can act as a permanent stain on the organization and is nearly impossible to remove from the Internet.

Worse yet, most companies don’t manage their online presence adequately enough to know when these postings appear and, if they know, often decide to ignore the content. Affordable options that empower business owners and executives to know when these postings come online and solutions to mitigate their damage to an organization’s brand. If employed proactively, they can also ensure that any future postings will be overshadowed by positive content.

Can you tell us a bit about how your firm works with clients to build up their online reputation karma.  Any examples or case studies you can share with us?
We have a tiered offering that can be purchased a la carte or in a bundled setting:

Brand Reputation Monitoring: Keeping an eye on your social media accounts isn’t enough. Even the most remote blog post or review comment can trigger a catastrophic Crisis PR event. For about $500 a month, we can set up comprehensive monitoring systems that alert organizations and executives whenever a negative review, news article, or rogue adverse post ion the Internet. Our monitoring service will alert organizations to any potentially adverse comments as they occur as well as provide you with a detailed monthly report on all new mentions of your organization, both good and bad.

We also have a special add-on service that seeks out sites publishing a person’s personal information, such as home addresses, phone number, bank accounts and such to remove to mitigate identity theft risks.

Online Review Management: For about $500 a month, we’ll integrate with your customer appointment calendar to get feedback on their latest experience with you, and, if positive, give them a quick and easy way to write a positive review on a wide array of targeted and general review sites. If the feedback is less than stellar, we’ll be able to alert you to rectify the matter before the issue becomes public. Monthly reports will detail all reviews posted and we can also set up systems to tackle negative comments right away.

Reputation Insurance Content: The trick to getting negative postings pushed down to the second page of Google Searches is to create content that people love to read about. We’ll do so in a regimented, templatized fashion while utilizing PR news posting sites, SEO strategies,  pay-per-click campaigns, and social media channels to get that positive content out to as many folks as possible and up in the Google rankings. Prices generally range from $1,000 to $2,000 a month depending on the amount of content generated.

Are there any other insights you can share with us that small and medium sized owners and operators could benefit from?
The cold, hard reality is that any organization of any size can go from HERO to ZERO in an Instagram post. Worse yet, waiting to fix the program until after the review, blog, social media post, or news article gets indexed on Google can take two years and $200,000 to fix. The best defense to this world of “Mean Tweets” is to take a proactive approach to monitoring channels, generating positive reviews, and executing cost-effective content strategies. It will be pennies on the dollar to repairing damages already done.

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