Online reputation suffering? PR can help.

When a company or executive makes a mistake, it doesn’t take long for word to travel. Within hours, years of marketing efforts can be wiped out as news of an indiscretion, lawsuit, malfeasance or other reputation-buster populates Internet search engines.

At one time, search engine experts could fix these problems, but with near-daily algorithm changes by search engine companies, it’s getting harder to game the system.

Fortunately, public relations can be effective in helping companies regain their goodwill, or at least highlight more positive news. By getting PR pros involved early, steps can be taken to trump the bad news with good news. The idea is that the more good news being written about your company, the more likely the bad news is pushed further down in search results.

A few ways to do this include:

Develop news releases that highlight positive developments. Announce new customers, important new hires, product enhancements and other positive developments in news releases that are distributed via a wire service. Wire services have agreements with news outlets to index releases on their sites, and these sites show up in web searches.

Promote thought leadership through trade articles. Ideally, companies should do this all the time because thought leadership PR is a fantastic lead generator. Contact editors of trade magazines covering your industry and pitch article angles or suggest having an executive author (byline) an article that demonstrates expertise. Byline articles allow companies to carefully control the message, so they provide a more predictable outcome. Articles published by credible sources go a long way in replacing negative news.

Create a company blog. Blogs are found by web crawlers and are picked up by search engines. Blog regularly (at least twice a week) on topics important to your customers. Enlisting the help of executives from throughout the organization to author blogs makes the process of developing content less time-consuming.

It’s important to understand that no company can make bad news go away entirely; once news is in the public domain it stays there forever. Also, some reputation problems require a good crisis management program. However, an aggressive and truthful PR program can help highlight your positive news and minimize the negative.

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