The only way you can measure what is being said about your company, product and business methods online. How you are portrayed online is a vital part of any PR strategy, especially when that portrayal is negative. Online Reputation Management is the influencing and/or control of an individual’s or business’s reputation. Originally a public relations term, the advancement of internet and social media use, along with Online Reputation Management companies, have made it primarily an issue of search results. Parts of Online Reputation Management are often associated with ethical grey areas, such as astroturfing review sites, censoring negative complaints or using SEO tactics to game the system and influence results. There are also ethical forms of Online Reputation Management, which are frequently used, such as responding to customer complaints, asking sites to take down incorrect information and using online feedback to influence product development.
The concept was initially intended to broaden public relations outside of media relations. Academic studies have identified it as a driving force behind Fortune 500 corporate public relations since the beginning of the 21st century. As the Internet and social media became more popular, the meaning has shifted to focus on review sites, social media and—most prominently—the top search results on a brand or individual.
In 2007, a study by the University of California Berkeley found that some sellers were undertaking online reputation management on eBay by selling products at a discount in exchange for positive feedback to game the system.