Repairing your Online Reputation After Scandal: The BBC As Case in Point
Oh, how they’ve fallen.
The BBC (affectionately known as the Beeb), is in real trouble these days from the scandal that broke in early to mid-October over 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.
Resignations are coming fast and furious and the impact could be felt here on this side of the pond as New York Times recent President and CEO Mark Thompson could be soon in the cross hairs (searching for the term, “New York Times,” how lists Mark Thompson and the BBC on the first page).
BBC’s Online Reputation
But what about the BBC’s ONLINE reputation?
Doing a search for “BBC” on November 12, 2012 reveals only the company’s web site in the first position and then it’s all about the scandal. This goes on for nearly twent pages or more (!).
Only a few weeks ago, discussed in previous blog, “How the BBC Blew Their Online Reputation So Quickly,” this was in sharp contrast to the three links about the scandal on the first page.
Way back in early October, there was little sign of any problem: only links to top programs.
This obviously is devastating to the business—any business—but there are some real implications too as it tries to recover.
What About the Programming?
BBC’s programming, for one, is impacted. If people can’t look online to find information about their favorite television or radio show, they are out of luck. This could cause them to tune out. The information is still there but they have to wade through twenty or more pages of negative posts, and most people (95%) never get beyond the first page.
Also, any news that the BBC breaks or covers that people might be looking for is buried in the sea of negative information, because they ARE the news, at the moment.
What options do they have?
Parsing out the details of public relations initiatives and internal management overalls are best left to the experts.
As far as their online reputation is concerned, here are a few tips or thoughts. This is applicable for most businesses, too, that need to repair their online reputation.
Create a Unified Plan
Blasting full steam ahead is tempting in a crisis but pause. Wait. Think. Take a breath and do nothing—momentarily—and analyze the situation. Then create a plan of attack: determine what is the main issue and determine how to address it. Next, line up resources, hire experienced staff or brief the current in-house experts. For example, will Twitter be used? If so, who will tweet and what message?
Accentuate the positive.
One thing I noticed was the donation to a museum by the BBC. This showed up on the first page. If there is any good news, publish it immediately. This could be the form of a blog post, a press-release, a news article, or, in the BBC’s case, a larger effort might be necessary. Be careful that the news doesn’t trigger additional online comments, however.
Harness Existing Online Resources.
Your own website probably draws the most traffic of your online presences, so use it. Promote it, share about it, with the emphasis on the information that people are interested in. In the BBC’s case, that would be their top television shows, for example
Optimize or Re-Optimize Your Site.
It’s worth while to review how your site is optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). This is a to way leverage your existing web pages and have them show up on the first page of the search results. If your site has been optimized recently, check it again to emphasize new or popular key search terms; if its not, optimize it quickly.
Based on your initial detailed plan, spread the word online to other sites but use caution because this could backfire. Stick to content, subjects, images, video’s, etc., that are very scandal-free, and be sure to avoid any words that could be misconstrued or related to the negative information. Also, never engage with a commenter directly on the site, since this usually only will push up the Google ranking making it more visible.
Again, this is not to condone or comment on reprehensible things that an organization does, but merely to offer ways to repair their online reputation for the 99% of the company that works properly.
Steven W Giovinco