Thursday, April 9, 2009

What is YOUR online reputation?

I hadn't given a single thought to reputation management until I was reading one of my favorite blogs recently. Mindy, the author, sells advertising on her blog, which is the source of her family's income. She frequently participates in Momversations, which are video discussions between successful mommy bloggers on selected topics.

In one particular session, the ladies were discussing "Post Baby Body." In the clip, which is edited together with the other women's responses by the Momversation website, Mindy made a comment about how the changes to a mom's body are like changing from a girl to a woman (I'm paraphrasing a bit.) One viewer took this comment out of the context in which it was meant and was actually offended by it. This viewer had her own highly trafficked website, No Pasa Nada, so she wrote a post harshly criticizing (and unfairly, I might add) Mindy and ended up with over 100 readers posting their displeasure over the comment, as well.

The scathing comments continued on the website until Mindy wrote a follow-up apology on her own blog. She attempted to comment on NPN's blog post, but the author had closed the comments. After Mindy's apology, NPN opened comments back up and Mindy was able to confront her critics. She commented that these hurtful comments were putting her integrity and livelihood in jeopardy by tarnishing her online reputation. NPN finally closed the discussion and comments and appears to have moved on. But, what if she hadn't moved on? If this woman had decided to continue her tirade, she could have launched an all out campaign against Mindy and her blog, effectively cutting off her revenue source and putting her family's financial security at risk. (Thank God she didn't. I applaud NPN for not going any further, BTW.)

The Internet is such an enormous part of our lives now that we look to the web to be our reference guide on all things. With the incredible number of personal blogs and watchdog websites, there are a lot of opinions floating around on the Internet. You can find entire sites dedicated to consumer complaints against companies. Some of these vitriolic tirades are well-deserved, but some are isolated incidents and some are even competition-inspired fabrications.

So, what to do when your name is smeared? Call the experts, of course. Oh, yes, there are experts in online reputation management. Check out the site if you don't believe me. You can actually pay public relations consultants and web experts to monitor and correct negative online attacks on your reputation. As it turns out, all publicity isn't good publicity.

See all the fun things you can discover when you have nothing better to do with your day?! I'd LOVE to know what you think! ;)


  1. I was absolutely fascinated by this post. I followed all the links. My husband owns an internet business and has had tons of attacks from former employees, former partners, and upset, lying customers. The guy who runs, where you can complain about a company, but if that company can prove that the complaint was liable, the guy demands payment to remove anything, has said on the record that everyone should get used to being slandered on the internet. And THAT is wrong. No one should be slandered anywhere. And that feeds into this.

    NPN was upset over a comment, and I can understand that. I've been pissed off on blogs too. But if it was that important to NPN, why didn't she comment on Mindy's site, instead of write a post? I guess we should all be prepared for the shi*t storm every time we write something, just in case.
    I love the post.

  2. I didn't leave a comment on Mindy's post because she didn't have a post up about it until days later. If you noticed the timestamp on my post, it was written late at night. And sometimes a comment might be too long and so writing your own post is the best way to go: Content and a rebuttal! Two birds with one stone!

  3. Faemom- Oh am I SO glad you commented! I have now bookmarked your page so that I have your preschool crafts handy. I'll be a SAHM starting next week (more on that later) and I am TERRIFIED of running out of things to occupy my 3 y/o daughter with. THANK YOU!!

    Dialogue on the Internet is a double-edged sword. It is a great idea when used for the right purpose (ie: this company SERIOUSLY screwed me over, please watch out!), but very dangerous when used for vendettas (ie: they wouldn't give me free stuff so I'm mad.) First Amendment, yada yada...everyone has the right to say what they want, but people have to realize that when you put something out on the web it is OUT THERE for everytone to see, possibly forever. We are so emboldened by the thought that what we write on the web is anonymous or we can't be held accountable for it and that is not the case.

    As a newbie to the public blogging world, it is a little scary to think that someone I don't know, three thousand miles away, could suddenly decide they hate me. It kind of sucks, but I want it that way because I have that same right. We just need to be careful how we play, I guess.

    Thanks for the comment! I love discussions! :)

  4. Heather- After the whole Mindy-thing, I started looking around your site and I've visited several times since then. You are a very good writer!

    While I didn't agree with you, I firmly believe that you are entitled to be upset by a comment and vent as such. I was, however, worried by the fact that Mindy felt her livelihood was at risk by the negative publicity. That's not to say that people shouldn't be held accountable, but all of this attention was over how a comment was "interpreted." Anyway, I was glad that you closed the issue on your blog, which I think, shows that you were just opening up a discussion on a point and after it was thoroughly discussed, you moved on, so I appreciate that.

    I see that you are going to take a break from posting for awhile, so I will read your other blogs and await your return. :) I know it has been a tough year for you, so I wish you all the best and hope things start looking up!

  5. In cases like this I would have suggested Mindy attempt to email the owner of NPN directly to apologise and explain the situation (in addition to the open apology she placed on her own blog). The public apology is nice but one can not be certain that the offended party will read it. The email adds that personal touch.