Highly exposed, important and powerful individuals -- music stars, political leaders and business tycoons -- know that much of their career depends on keeping their reputation intact. The internet has become so vast and powerful in shaping people's lives and businesses that celebrities now have an army of experts putting their image together on the internet.
One such expert is Jonathan Hay, whose job is as important and sensitive as the clients he manages. You may have heard of one of his former clients -- recording artist Rihanna. She knew the importance of Hay's job in her career, so she had her producer hire Hay to break her first single "Pon de Replay."
And before you start wondering why Hay is in a business that very few have the experience and capacity for -- it's important to know that he is a successful recording artist and producer himself. He has an enviable line-up of music collaborations with the likes of Prince, Whitney Houston and Wiz Khalifa and has worked with brands like Sony Music and Death Row Records. This type of CV definitely makes you a target for many.
Apart from being a successful music mogul, Hay has a job description that puts him at the center of attention. Competitors, and not only his, but those of his high-profile clients as well, are always looking for ways to bring him down.
The following are some online reputation management strategies you can learn from this controversial celebrity publicist.
1. Be bold with your statement.
If you're in a competitive business like that of America's music industry, you'll learn very quickly that you can't be a chicken at all. Staying bold is how successful artists stay relevant even in the face of scandals and endless attacks from the internet.
The same principle should be applied to your business endeavors. For Hay, being bold means he had to come clean on some of the controversial publicity strategies he employs to get media attention for his clients. In an interview with HipHopDx.com, he talked about the Jay-Z and Rihanna rumor which he created in 2005 to gain press for Rihanna's debut single "Pon de Replay."
"In 2005, the rumor was just a pitch and a rumor to try and get people talking about Rihanna," Hay said. "It was never intended to be a big ordeal. It was just intended to get people asking, 'Who’s Rihanna?'"
While you might not be willing to go as far as Hay, standing behind your business practices -- and owning them boldly -- can earn you respect instead of scorn.
2. Actively be on a stakeout for brand/identity attacks.
The key is to stay active monitoring your brand. It's easy to put an end to an online reputation crisis when it's just in the early stages instead of when it's full-blown. You should have a strategy to put your brand monitoring on automation. Set up Google Alerts for your name or brand mentions.
"You want to make sure you're actively monitoring your brand online 24-7," says Hersh Davis-Nitzberg, the founder of RepairBadReputation.com, an online reputation management firm. "This should include staying on top of what has been written about you and your brand online," he added.
Indeed your personal identity is part of your brand online. In our economy, almost 70 percent of what makes up a company's brand value include factors like brand equity, goodwill and brand integrity -- and the reputation of an executive can dictate the fate of the company.
3. Identify the source of your attacks.
Start by identifying the source of the offending online properties to cut the damage from its roots. Your approach might be to settle things with them or file a lawsuit -- whatever works for you. But the bottom line is to identify why you've been maligned online and who is doing it. Then act swiftly.
“One of the most effective ways for brands to mitigate damage is to run a branded search campaign through Google Adwords or Bing Ads that appears above any unwanted publicity,” says Habib Bakshi, the founder of SkyDiamond Media. This is a solution that any brand can deploy within 24 hours.
4. Plan a defense strategy.
You want to strike out a plan to make sure your brand's online reputation is quickly salvaged before any damage affects your profit. This includes educating your marketing team and creating a strategy to cover how you intend to repair your identity and measure your progress.
Your strategy can even be a strong PR recovery that is spearheaded by yourself or any leading member of your company. And like Jacob Hagberg, founder of Orange Fox suggests, you can create a new event that your business can shine the spotlight on in order to shield attention away from the issue.
"Using a powerful combination of PR, together with the element of surprise that comes with creating new things, you can draw people's attention away from what you do not like being said about your business in the press," Hagberg said.