Those who work in PR know that you need to work hard and fast in order to stay on to of the game and manage reputations. This is crucial, now more than ever. With the internet working at speeds beyond human ability; professionals need to be able to manage online conversations and better yet; be part of those conversations (not forgetting video and images). This is never going to be an easy task. Not only is it impossible to track every single conversation and mention about your company or brand but it can be inefficient and time-consuming to monitor, evaluate and respond. It is not a simple case of finding the conversation and joining in.

However, there are plenty of tools available which will track online conversations and mentions for you. As analysed in a previous post; some tools work better than others and generally come at a cost. It is worth spending some time looking into the different options available and deciding which tool will work best for you.
These tools will highlight the conversations across the internet and some will evaluate them in terms of reach and influence. Using a tool that can identify these factors will save you a lot of time and will also help to create a faster response to a negative or positive conversation.

Once the conversations have been identified; practitioners then need to consider the response. This means drafting it, getting it approved and posting it online in an appropriate style. For example your brand may be talked about on twitter and in order to respond you need to make sure what ever you say is short, punchy and noticeable. There is no point in issuing a press release which will never fit into 140 characters. Knowing the channels and platforms is key in order to make sure your response is relevent. Ultimately this process needs to be quick. If it isn’t the conversation may have ended or even escalated into something out of your control. Should this happen there could be damaging results to reputation.
It is important to prepare for every eventuality. Being aware of the conversations is just part of the response processes. You also need to factor in the possibility of people saying something negative or damaging; having a strategy in place for such an eventuality will speed up the response process. Responding quickly will also demonstrate that your company or brand is very much aware and listening to what is going on and is valuing the brand highly by responding appropriately.

Remember… even if you are not online, you are still being talked about. Just because you don’t have a presence or dedicated social networking pages does not mean that no one is interested in your company or brand.