In a PR 2.0 world, where PR is now focussing a lot more on social media and the internet, it can be difficult to know exactly who is talking about what brands, let alone what people are saying about them. Anthony Silverman has written an article for PR Week about this point and discusses how brands and businesses are now highly aware of the anonymity of the Internet and how they are scared of somebody using social media tools to “wreak havoc with their corporate reputation.”

Silverman picks up on the point that companies, and PR as a whole are unsure what to do about all the uncertainty in the social media world. According to him, “sticking one’s head in the sand” has been conceived as an appropriate digital strategy by some, and by others the whole notion of digital PR is simply the same old journalists, employed by the same old people, writing the same old things, but on a new medium. This, in my opinion, is a very dangerous way to think about things in the new PR world and Silverman agrees.

There are many dangers to staying hidden, or ignoring what is going on in social media. Businesses run a high risk of either being lost on the internet behind more creative brands and campaigns or they run the risk of their brand being incredibly damaged by comments that are not being looked at or acted upon. Whilst it may now be harder sometimes, thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, to track down who exactly is saying what on the Internet, it is important that the impact of such things is kept to a minimum. Important ways of doing this would be to keep an up-to-date Twitter feed and Facebook profile, as well as look out for errors on user-editable sites such as Wikipedia. Whilst this may not prevent people saying what they like about companies, it at least stands companies in a good position for protecting themselves if something comes up against them.

In my opinion, it is crucial for companies to maintain their online presence and responsibly keep them up-to-date and moderated so that they do not have to spend all their time wondering who is talking about them. I agree that the Internet is a hugely anonymous place, but I do not think this is a reason for companies to shy away from comments, criticisms and queries. Instead, I think it gives a great place for brands to directly converse with their customers and discover problems and solutions they probably never knew existed. Whilst this does not directly cover the threat of somebody using social media tools to destroy corporate reputations, business can be comfortable in the knowledge that by preparing themselves across social media – they are well placed to deal with any such attack if it happens in the future… (they just need to be wary of the threat from journalists who are well adapted to social media, and are not so anonymous!).

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