It seems like just last year, a search for online reputation management would have yielded a group of college kids charging thirty bucks a month to send you information generated for free by Google News and a lone AdWords ad by some guy operating out of his house. Now it seems like every other day, another search engine optimization company is launching their “ORM” sector without a clue of what they are getting themselves into.
When we began offering the service under our search engine optimization company in 2006, we were performing a virtual covert operation. We received non-disclosure agreements from some clients that were so long you would have thought that every Harvard Law alumni from the past thirty years had written a page of it. Clients demanding to see background checks on every set of eyes that would be looking at their name, clauses that included “document destroy dates”, secured facility obligations, and even “armed information transport” (OK, we lost that account).
Our network of criminal defense consultants were sending people from every side of the globe. And, we did good work for them, we still do.
The point is, a reputation is serious business. And now, a bunch of tech savvy security rookies are taking individual’s and businesses reputations and treating them like any other search engine optimization account. You can not do that.
Many people and businesses in need of reputation management have made somebody, somewhere, very angry. You (as a reputation management company) are standing in the way of that being public. If you don’t have tough skin and tight lips, your client’s enemies are going to smell your efforts, and blog the hell out of your client’s name. Try cleaning up after that. Therefore, secrecy is the best way to move forward in an online reputation management or ORM campaign.
With the popularity of the industry growing, a lighter clientele is on the horizon. Local professionals with embarrassing misdemeanors, family troubles finding their way in the news (complicated divorces, teen with DUI, etcetera), and companies with loud angry clients are quickly making up the majority.
However, the reputation management firm (if doing a good job) will receive the occasional threatening phone call, mysterious visitor with the “how do you know so and so” question, and the amusing “I know who you are” emails. Not a big deal for the people working for us or for someone like me that spent my teen life to adulthood working in 1970’s Las Vegas casinos, but will the newage SEO geek keep your secrets under that much pressure?
Probably not. Go ahead; bet your reputation on it.