Types of reputation management agency
There is a lot of confusion about online reputation management companies. We'd like to help clear things up a bit. Companies that help brands improve reputation fall into a few categories:
- Public relations agencies
- Search engine optimization companies
- Review management firms
- Dedicated reputation management firms
- Reputation scammers
PR firms (Reputation PR)
PR firms usually represent a client publicly and are best used for journalist outreach.
Public relations firms have been engaging in one kind of reputation management or another for a long time. PR companies tend to have strong journalist relationships that can often be leveraged for content placement. Reputation management companies often use PR companies for public outreach because technical reputation management tends to live "behind the scenes".
Learn about the difference between PR and ORM here.
White-label reputation management
Conversely, PR companies often use specialized reputation companies like Reputation X in a white-label capacity. This is because online reputation companies specialize in only one thing, whereas PR companies generalize.
We use public relations companies for public outreach while we stay behind the scenes. PR companies use Reputation X to manage their reputation clients, then add a markup to our services. The relationship works well for both parties as this case study shows.
Learn about white-label reputation management here.
Most firms that advertise themselves as reputation companies are really just SEO firms. Search engine marketing is certainly a subset of reputation management and one of the tools professionals use, but SEO is less than half of the reputation improvement toolset.
- SEO companies tend to focus on one website and work to help it rise in search results for a product or service-related search term.
- Reputation management companies work on many websites and work to get all of them to rise in search results for branded search terms.
- Online reputation firms also work to have online content removed.
- Online reputation firms perform review management.
Check out this article to compare SEO and ORM companies.
Review management companies
There's still another variety of reputation management company -one that only improves online reviews and nothing else.
Most review improvement solutions involve providing an intermediary system between new customers and their invoices. They're often software systems that may be connected to the company invoice system. When a customer does business with you, the system sends them an email or to a web page where they rate your business. If they rate it well, they are shuffled off to Yelp or some other review site. If they rate it badly, the business is alerted and the problem is solved (hopefully). These systems are usually very inexpensive and billed on a monthly basis.
Dedicated reputation management firms
Reputation X is a dedicated online reputation company. A company dedicated to reputation management uses tools like those listed below to affect change:
- PR (public relations)
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- Review management
- Content management
- Social media management
A dedicated reputation management company is different from a PR company in that it does not normally represent clients publicly. Instead, it works behind the scenes for the most part to change public opinion.
Learn about reputation management services here.
In our experience, the majority of companies or individuals claiming to be reputation firms are in reality either SEO firms or scammers. Unfortunately, most people don't know the difference. Some of the issues people run into with these fake companies include:
- Low-quality offshore development teams
- Companies that hold client assets like domain names hostage
- Poor-quality writing that further damages reputation
- Clumsy security that enables detractors to reverse engineer work and identify the reputation company and its clients
- Spam or black hat techniques that lead to Google penalties
Example: A sketchy reputation company took its clients down with it
In one well-known case, a company called Brand.com relied on this method. One day Google devalued its entire network, so all of the web pages it had built using its automated network became worthless. The search results they had suppressed for their clients shot back to their former positions in search results. One thing led to another, and the company went out of business.