A little while ago we sang American Apparel’s praises for publishing their hate mail on their company blog. We later built this into what we called the reverse psychology of 2.0. Basically, we saw six major advantages to embracing bad-press and negative public opinion on your company blog:

  1. It shows that you have nothing to hide.
  2. It detracts from the detractor.
  3. It detracts from the criticism byshowing that you’re not worried.
  4. It makes you appear more human because humans are fallible, and you’re acknowledging your shortcomings.
  5. It shows that you actually care (a human emotion) about what others think of you.
  6. It shows that you care so much that you’ll actually help other human beings express how they feel.

Well, it looks like we’re not the only ones who see things this way. Writing for AIMS Canada, Search Engine Marketing Specialist, Helen M. Overland, sees negative feedback on a company blog in a in a similar light, albeit for different reasons. She writes about a client that was wary to blog because of the potential backlash:

But when you think about it, this sentiment sums up why organizations have been hesitant to join the online conversation. There are two opposing fears at work here… fear that responding might draw attention to criticism, and fear of being passed by in the never ending noise of the Web.
In all of this roar of human conversation, opinions are being expressed, recommendations are being made, and companies are being assessed, commented on, and sometimes dissected.

All of this happens with or without each company’s input. If an organization is criticized, and no-one at the company responds, no-one hears anything but the criticism.

If a company wants to have a voice, a chance to respond, a way to show the market that it cares, then it has to join in. The public assessment of your brand is going to take place whether or not you participate. Only by joining in can you really have a voice.

This is the perfect point of why a company needs to blog, especially if they’re vulnerable to bad press or negative public opinion. In fact, Helen isn’t the only search engine marketer to stress importance of using a blog to manage your corporate reputation. As Lee Odden over at Online Marketing Blog explains:

As much time and effort that marketers put into improving visibility within search results, not all search engine ranking pages (SERPs) are good. Increasing numbers of companies are experiencing the sharp edge of the sword from disgruntled employees or customers taking advantage of the amazingly simplistic process of publishing content to the web.
Because these references occur within the search results, many companies percieve search engine reputation management as a SEO problem. But displacing negative search results only treats the symptoms of the problem. It’s not a cure.
Negative search results are not limited to standard search engines either. Blog search engines, video sites like YouTube, social news such as Digg and news search can be affected as well.

Of course, once something has made the SERP, it’s not going anywhere. As far as the first page is concerned, however, it doesn’t have to mean that they are there to stay. In other words, you can always bury them, and it just so happens that blogs are particularly conducive to manipulating search engine results. Basically, blogs offer a number of SEO benefits, and these can help you control your SERP profile. The benefits include:

  1. Structured Content
  2. Linkbait Potential
  3. Crawlable URLs
  4. Updated Content
  5. Defensible Traffic

By launching a company blog, you can easily control another spot on the first page of search results for your company’s name. If you choose to engage your negative feedback, moreover, user who search your company are not only likely to find that negative feedback, but find you acknowledging and dealing with it — which makes you seem like the bigger person.

In a word, whether your online media profile is spotless or not, there really is nothing but gains to be had by blogging. If there is bad press out there about you, you’re able to chime in on a conversation that is already well underway. Similarly, if any bad press about you emerges in the future, you can help ensure that your company’s side of the story is one of the top search results that users encounter when searching out your company or its bad press.

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