Despite its current popularity, brand reputation management (BRM) is not a new concept. Most credible organizations have always taken their reputation seriously. It used to be called PR and word-of-mouth marketing.

However, the arena has changed fundamentally since then. User-generated feedback via social sites and review networks is now commonplace, and such instant feedback means new challenges and opportunities for every business.

Today, BRM is about actively managing the references, conversations, and feedback on your business. Typically, those occur online, but being mindful of what happens in the offline environment is equally important. An in-store complaint that is not dealt with properly will invariably make its way through the virtual grapevine; therefore, it shouldn't be ignored.

So, what course of action should you take? Basically, having a good defense as well as attack strategy is required. Here are seven key areas you should address:

  1. Search engine dominance
  2. Brand monitoring
  3. Social media PR
  4. Reviews and recommendations
  5. Customer service and culture
  6. Negative-PR management
  7. Brand advocacy

1. Search Engine Dominance

When users type your business's name into a search engine, your company website should be the first listing they see. The remaining listings will vary (according to device, geography, etc.); however, they will typically include social profiles, entries for Google Places, and news stories. Wikipedia pages and review sites can also make the front page, so check that any facts printed there are correct.

Your aim should be to dominate the first page results with listings you control. Set up key social profiles (if you haven't already)—and, crucially, make sure you have a Google+ page. Google will include Google+ updates on the right-hand side of its desktop search results, so being active on this channel is a great way to push positive news and information.

To exude authority, you should also aim to appear prominently in search results for key search terms within your industry. The more a customer sees your brand in search results, the more they will regard you as an important player.

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Lorna Walkden is content writer at Ellenell and has over 10 years' marketing experience. Follow her company tweets @EllenellPromo