The internet is a wonderful tool: for research, to cure boredom, and to stay in touch with friends and family across the globe. Everyone has a voice on the internet, to say whatever they please. With this grand platform available to virtually everyone, maintaining a positive reputation with the help of online reputation management companies has become a job in and of itself.

marketingWhether you’re an entertainer, entrepreneur, Fortune 500 company, or even just pride yourself on your reputation, today’s society can be harsh to navigate. Virtually everybody has the internet at their fingertips these days, and one bad experience, or even just a somebody who’s had a bad day, can find an outlet, online.

Google, Yelp, and Reddit are sites everyone knows. A business owner can hope to resolve customer complaints before they grow out of hand, but even if they do, that customer can easily leave a negative review on a variety of sites. One bad comment won’t spell the end of the world, but a few might. So how do you begin to handle the important task of managing your reputation, when it’s all too easy for people to take out their frustrations on you, or your business?

Welcome to The New World

Not long ago, traditional media was the be-all, end-all of PR management. You and your business had little to fear from anything else, save for maybe word of mouth. Journalists and ad campaigns were your best friends, if you wanted to keep your reputation positive. Whether you hired a PR firm or tried to go it alone, the client-reporter relationship was essential and exclusive. What was said could be scripted to perfection to give you the image you needed to maintain your brand. The internet ended those blissful days.

Early on, the web was easy enough to navigate, for a professional or business. The world was still a passive audience, not expecting much more than a website with basic information. As the internet evolved, however, so did the world.

It may have started with online storefronts and biography pages, but in the last few years alone, people have found that whatever they may have to say can find an audience online. A bad experience at a shop, an unkind remark from a clerk, even fickle matters like fashion choices are all easy enough to post about.

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Good or bad, you and your business no longer rely on the media for your reputation. News coverage and word of mouth have combined into the still-growing virtual tangle that is social media. Even major news networks have a habit of tapping into trending social media stories and broadcasting them; if someone has said something about you or your company, for better or worse, it’s out there for all the world to see.

All hope isn’t lost, however. Hiring a reputation management firm (the New World lingo for PR agent), or braving these new horizons on your own are both sound options to keep your image positive. Just because everyone can say as they please doesn’t mean that it will all be negative, and plus, it means you get to say as you please, too.

Properly maintaining an online presence is crucial – more on that later – and can be a great tool to further yourself and your business. Not only can you promote yourself, but you can promote yourself to exactly who you’d like to promote yourself to. Information can be laser targeted to a specific demographic, and reach farther than even traditional media could. A specific region, age, and gender can be reached with ad targeting, assuring that your message can be seen by everyone you want it to be seen by.