I was recently watching a rerun episode of HBO’s “HardKnocks” featuring the Cincinnati Bengals, and Terry “Tank” Johnson asked a great online reputation management question during a team session with what must have been a PR person. Anyway – she was talking about the idea of “anything you do can get posted online and live forever”. It was at this point that Tank Johnson raised his hand and asked if there was any way to get rid of the bad stuff that shows up when you Google his name. The PR rep said “no”, which is true – but it isn’t the complete answer. A little effort and some savvy could probably do wonders for improving the Google results when I look up Tank Johnson.
It’s probably best to back up here and give a little background. If you don’t follow football or know who Terry “Tank” Johnson is – you may not know that he started his NFL career as a defensive lineman with the Chicago Bears after an outstanding couple of years playing for University of Washington, where he got the nickname Tank. While with Chicago, Tank Johnson got into a little (lot of) hot water with a few gun related arrests, which ultimately led to him putting a little time in behind bars, getting suspended by the NFL, and being kicked off of the Chicago Bears in the process. Now, depending on the search you use, it isn’t hard to find less than flattering results in Google for his name. You’ll find mug shots and news stories about his “Chicago troubles”, arrests, and testifying in a murder trial.
So what could Tank Johnson do to “fix” the Google results for his name? Here’s some
Online Reputation Management Tips for Terry “Tank” Johnson
Have a Good Reputation Offline
The first rule of Online Reputation Management is that you have to have a good reputation offline. You can employ all the smartest tactics and make short term fixes, but if you’re a disaster of a person in real life – there’s no way that they’ll stick because the next negative news item or comment or review will lay all your hard work to waste. So, the first thing that Tank Johnson needs to do is stay out of trouble and start doing positive things with his life that he can publicize online.
Highlight the Positive Online
Now that you’re keeping your nose clean, improving your performance on the field, and maybe even doing some charity work – you’ve got to let people know about it. This might manifest itself online in the following ways: positive news coverage, player profiles, press releases from the team or from your own publicity, multimedia (photos & videos). So the question becomes – how to get those things to show up in Google for your name instead of the “bad” items? The key lies in building links to the positive items, and encouraging other people to link to them as well. Link to them from your blog, from your Twitter account, from press releases, from your Facebook page, from your team site, etc.
Do Some Blocking & Tackling Online
You’ll notice in the item above that I recommended building links to the positive items. In order to really make that work – you need to generate some authority online. One – you’ve got to have a Web presence or two or three that you own. A popular place is Twitter and/or Facebook, but these work best if you’ve got a site or blog to act as a central location for your online presence. From here – you can use Twitter and Facebook as extensions of your primary site. After all – Twitter or Facebook may go the way of MySpace or Friendster someday. Once you link Twitter and Facebook to your blog – and “optimize” them for your name, all of a sudden you’ve got three Web properties that can show up on page 1 in Google for your name. When that happens, you may find that some of those negative items get “pushed” to page two – effectively making them “disappear”. Use these tools to create links to the positive items that you’d rather see show up in search results for your name. You can take this strategy even further by creating profiles on other sites like Flickr, LinkedIn, Google Profiles, YouTube, etc.
Continue to Generate Positive Publicity
While there may be some more sensational publicity stunts you can do to generate a lot of buzz and coverage in a short amount of time – simple things like taking advantage of photo opps, granting interviews, and donating your time and money to worthy causes will pay off in the long run. The key is to be savvy about promoting those items online.
These are just a few tips that any person or company could employ to improve their online reputation. Google even gives some advice for managing your reputation through search results. Amplify Interactive offers online reputation management services as well. Feel free to share any online reputation management tips you may have for Terry “Tank” Johnson below.