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Tony McChrystal: Is Online Reputation Management and PR the Same Thing?

Online reputation management (ORM) and public relations (PR) expert Tony McChrystal is the Director of ReputationDefender EMEA. This article will compare ORM and PR, highlighting the differences and overlap between the two fields.

The aim of both ORM and PR is to influence audiences. However, while ORM techniques target people who are searching for information online, PR techniques typically leverage media professionals such as journalists, editors and TV, radio or podcast hosts, essentially using the media to convey a positive image to potential customers, employees, investors and the world at large.


ORM and PR both exist to improve reputations. However, ORM focuses exclusively on a person or organisation’s online reputation, which is defined entirely by search results. Social media posts may appear and disappear quickly from people’s feeds, but search results linked to a name can stick around for years. It is for this reason that ORM techniques predominantly focus on positively influencing search results.


Rather than concentrating solely on virtual spaces, PR also prioritises in-person events such as conferences, productions and events that provide the client with an opportunity to showcase themselves. However, there is sometimes an overlap between PR and ORM – for example, a PR professional reaching out to a social media influencer to generate good publicity with minimal effort.


One aspect in which ORM can be incredibly effective is removing negative online content, either by persuading the publisher or the website on which it was posted to remove it or through carefully implemented SEO tactics that push negative search results further down the rankings. Since most web users do not venture past the first page of Google, when bad press is pushed over to page two it effectively disappears from most people’s view.


Common PR tactics include creating and distributing press releases or persuading high-profile individuals to give speeches that align with the narrative the client is trying to convey. Staging a special event to enhance relations with the public and media can also be effective, as can developing working relationships with editors of popular industry publications.


Meanwhile, ORM strategies concentrate exclusively on online content, sending signals to influence search engines, persuading them to reorder search results to suppress items that are incorrect or undesirable. To this end, it is crucial to be constantly on guard for new threats, promoting positive items as soon as possible to gain momentum while responding swiftly to negative content to prevent it going viral.


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