• How Unintentional Events such as Hurricane Sandy Impacts a Business’ Online Reputation

    Ruined Online Reputations

    Sometimes a great company with a great online reputation can be impacted or even ruined by a catastrophic even such as hurricane Sandy.
    Take for example the New York City Marathon, sponsored by ING, the Dutch banking conglomerate.

    Search Results in Jeopardy

    A recent search for various search terms lead to negative results on the first page. “NY marathon,” “ING marathon,” or just “marathon” all generate several critical articles on the first page of Google search pages.

    Did ING, the organization that runs the marathon or New York City correctly asses the situation and decide to move forward with massive black out and flood conditions in the Tri-State area? That’s not for me to judge or the point of this blog post. There are many articles by the New York Times, USA Today, CBS News or others that discuss this.

    Online Reputations and Disasters

    Rather, I’d like to explore how a company, such as ING, could have its online reputation effected by a natural disaster such as hurricane Sandy. It can be impossible to know what will cause an online reputation to change—both for the worse or for the better.
    Take the company ING. It seems to enjoy a good reputation online and if Sandy did not occur, it would continue to avoid negative comments. But since its associated as a sponsor to the New York marathon, it could be tainted. The Wikipedia page could be changed to include some of the apparent criticism, for example.

    The New York City Marathon has had its share of being in the limelight recently, and was criticized for stopping the transportation of runners clothes to the finish. This was reversed after their reputation was impacted.

    Repair Online Reputations

    But back to the issue at hand. Hurricane Sandy and other events—whether it be political, economic, or personal–wreck havoc in unintended ways for a companies online reputation. Often, there is little that can be done to reverse such an issue. Another article, “How Sandy Could Impact Your Business: Today’s News Effects Online Reputation Management, outlines some options. On a larger level, one approach to repair an online reputation is to create an event that trumps the negative news. In this case, it was just reported that the a large donation was given by the marathon’s organizers. This is the type of news item that could move to push items valued by Google, such as articles by the New York Times, off the first page.

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