It didn’t take long for the venerable BBC’s onlne reputation to be impacted in an extremely negative way. This time, its the recent alleged child abuse levied on a beloved and long time television veteran host (or presenter, as they say), Jimmy Savile, and the subsequent attempt to cover it up. The news sources have been reporting this extensively, in my opinion, but the focus here is on online reputations. This important issue is now showing up the web in a very big way and is impacting the “Beeb’s” online reputation. The latest blow is on the BBC’s Wikipedia page.
As of October 23, 2012, there have been nearly a dozen edits to the BBC article, and several dozen more over the last week since the story broke. Wikipedia allows for anyone to edit articles but has some checks and balances in place, including voluntary editors and the need to site specific sources. If this is not adhered to, the addition could be reverted, as is the case with the few of these recent updates.
More importantly, however, is that this story is now showing up a general Google search for the British broadcaster.
This fact is actually quite substantial, and shows the power and impact of this news story online.
When entering the term “BBC,” “Jimmy Savile scandal,” is appearing as the THIRD search item at this moment.
Think about that for a moment. As is should, by the way, if the allegations are true and that the BBC did systematically ignore or worse purposely cover up a n alleged sexual predator. But this discussion is not about the law, morality, or psychological insights—just online reputations and the impact of doing nothing.
This impact is huge for the BBC and for related companies or properties because it means that a search for a company produces a negative news item in spite of the fact that millions of search are conducted for the BBC EACH DAY looking for extremely popular programming, including various television shows, radio, and news. (The term “BBC” results in about 110,000,000 monthly searches—a huge number.)
This another example of how a company or institution’s approach to their reputation can impact their online reputation quickly, and can almost instantly erode their creditability. The more this shows up, the more people will click on it and the more it will be kept on the first page, above, by the way, major internet traffic drivers such as the BBC’s Wikipedia page, their YouTube and iTune channel, and more. At a certain point, it will show up as a link at the bottom of the page under, “Searches Related to BBC.”
This is starting to also spread online as comments have started to appear about the former BBC General Director, Mark Thompson, who is now the President and CEO of the New York Times.
As companies start to think about their online reputation as just their reputation, its usually best to be transparent immediately and to move quickly because blogs, social media, and the rest of the online world will do so for you, whether you like it or not.