When a crisis strikes, you can’t worry only about what people think at that moment. You’ve also got to worry about Google, because search engines remember everything—good and bad.
- One company paid almost $4 million to someone who said she was wrongfully fired after reporting a series of issues. Afterward, when people Googled the business, before they even saw a link to the company’s website, they saw a link to the negative headline.
- As a company prepared to launch a campaign setting the record straight about a product people consider harmful to the environment, the CEO got slammed for a poorly timed joke about environmentalists.
- A company that makes a product sold in pharmacies has a legion of followers, but some are still learning about the range of uses and benefits. As the company ramped up awareness, a critic’s website blasts everything people say about the product.
Positive stories will balance the bad news, of course, but you also need that positive news displayed prominently on search engines. You can’t erase negative mentions on the web, but you can push them off page one of your search results. To be sure, it won’t happen overnight, but given time, the right strategy and the right tools, it can happen.
A great communications plan makes the best use of your paid, owned and earned media. You find hooks to get reporters to feature your good news and craft thought leadership pieces that underscore your good work. You analyze keywords people use to find your website, tailoring messages for each of your social media outlets and spotlighting positive reviews. And you evaluate your website to ensure it adheres to SEO best practices, building links where they’re either missing or relevant
Not only do these opportunities land your company on high-profile news sites, they create natural ways for readers of other sites to link to yours. It’s an easy connection, and it means when people do Google searches, they’re more likely to see your key messages.
It’s worked with Mower clients. Today, news of the wrongful termination lawsuit has dropped to page two on Google searches. The CEO’s bad joke fell off the radar, largely because we established credibility by highlighting the company’s work with prominent environmental groups. And when you Google the product sold in pharmacies, the critic’s bogus claims have been pushed to the bottom of page one. To get there, you’ll first see praise from best-selling authors, an award-winning doctor and beauty experts who work with celebrities.
Think about what your critics say. Then see where it’s showcased on Google, Bing and other search engines.
Rick leads the Mower Public Relations & Public Affairs Group and is head of the reputation management and crisis communications teams. His contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, 704.916.6152