Written by Emma Vetriano • Published 10th September 2011

Managing your reputation can be tough at the best of times, but the digital age has brought with it a whole new wave of public forums where everyone has a voice, and that brings a whole new wave of possibilities and problems for anyone in the public eye. Just ask David Hasselhoff.

For many businesses and individuals, this seems like a daunting proposition – for anyone who understands how to use the online world to their advantage, it’s a welcome opportunity.

The online world is overpopulated and the competition is far beyond that existing in any traditional media field. In order for your campaign to be successful, it needs to be attention-grabbing. People simply won’t click on it if it’s not original, interesting or useful. It also needs to be squeaky-clean in the honesty and transparency departments, otherwise, you’ll have a reputation management issue on your hands, as Ticketmaster found out when they fudged the truth around their ticket offer.

The digital world represents an entirely new way of working and thinking. It’s tough to get your head around but big companies and brands ignore it at their peril. The next generation are growing up quickly and they’re spending almost half of their waking hours online. Gone are the days when consumers were content to pick up the phone and wait on hold to speak to customer services. Nowadays, if they have a complaint to make they’ll head straight to the nearest forum and post their complaint in a public space where hundreds or even thousands of people see it. A little digital reputation management can go a long way in preventing these public humiliations.

You might not be keeping tabs on what’s being said about you in the digital world – but your next generation of customers are. With a little bit of experience and effort, you can make sure that your company navigates the online minefield without any embarrassing mishaps.

And take a look at what happened when a social media rep at American Red Cross confused the company account for her personal account:

Ouch! Luckily The Red Cross had the good sense to turn the gaff into a running joke and #gettingslizzerd became an instant internet meme that attracted many new admirers and followers for the charity. Now that’s digital PR!