What is Reputation Management?

By Association Adviser staff • July 21, 2022

Reputation has always mattered. Regardless of the industry,  a good or bad reputation can make or break organizations of any size. In decades past, it may have taken months or even years for word to get out about a bad reputation, so there was ample time to deal with it. Today, however, word of an association’s reputation — good or bad — can spread like wildfire in mere minutes. 

For associations, maintaining a good reputation is mission critical. Regardless of the cause, whether engineered by an outside source or a miscalculated step, reputations need to be carefully guarded and managed to keep the association thriving and prepared for anything that comes its way. 

So what is reputation management, exactly? In short, reputation management gives an association the chance to promote the positive offerings of the organization and the experience of its members. Reputation management also provides associations with the unique opportunity to counter any negative feedback and ensure that the positive messages are shared with an even broader audience, including potential new members.  

When leveraged and managed properly, not only does a well-presented, positive reputation inform members of the trust and credibility of the association, but it also serves as an important component for recruitment as well as marketing. 


Four Main Goals of Reputation Management

Associations are all unique to their own industry, however, reputation management can be scaled to fit any association because the goals are the same. The four main goals of reputation management include: 

  1. Craft and disseminate compelling, clear and evolving messaging that speaks to the association’s industry expertise by highlighting its proven track record of innovation, leadership and continuous growth.
  2. Build brand awareness and credibility with influencers, existing members and prospective members through positive media and influencer coverage to protect and increase the association’s positive online reputation. 
  3. Execute proactive digital marketing campaigns to combat potential negative online reviews, effectively optimize search engine results and strengthen an association’s reputation. 
  4. Take control of an association’s online reputation by actively monitoring and influencing relevant online content and tracking and adjusting the campaign efforts.


The Key Tactics of a Reputation Management Plan to Make the Goals Effective

For reputation management to be successful, a well-thought-out plan has to be devised — and that begins with these three key tactics:


Creating proactive story pitching. This is where a marketing and PR team leading the reputation management plan would identify newsworthy angles to incorporate into creative story pitches for target media. These pitches are intended to:

  • Differentiate the association from other players in the industry and position it as a thought leader. 
  • Highlight the association’s offerings, its value propositions and success stories. 

Ensuring SEO strategy is integrated with media relations strategy. To maximize search engine efforts, an association needs to incorporate keywords into the positioning, messaging and media placements (blog content, third-party and bylines) to try to facilitate more backlinks that proactively underscore the overall marketing strategy of the association. 

Having a search engine marketing (SEM) strategy in place for an online reputation enhancement campaign. The goal with SEM is to have positive results appear higher in the rankings on all major search engines, pushing down the negative pages that hurt an association’s reputation. In order to successfully execute this program, an association would employ three synchronous tactics: 

  1. Optimization of existing content
  2. Creation and syndication of new content
  3. Search engine marketing (SEM) brand advertising

To aid in maintaining a positive reputation, it’s highly important that a sponsored link to the association’s website is the first result that shows up when a user types the association name in Google. This is accomplished by bidding on their own association’s name via Google and Bing search engine text ads (AdWords and BingAds). Unsurprisingly, 75% of people say paid search ads make it easier to find the information they are searching for on a website or search engine.

Amplifying all efforts on social media. Use organic social posts to highlight positive media coverage, feature press announcements and connect an association with priority keywords by retweeting relevant news articles or relevant social posts. Leveraging social media in this way also increases the online discoverability of things an association wants people to see, especially when people are doing Google searches on your organization. 


Why an Association Needs to Incorporate Reputation Management 

The integrity and reputation of an association mean everything — and it’s more important than ever to make sure there’s a firm grasp on the ability to influence how it’s perceived online by both members and non-members. A strategic reputation management plan needs to be carefully developed based on a clear understanding of the association’s objectives and strategies so that associations can maintain their positive image in the online world.

As a leader in your industry, you need to hedge against the vulnerabilities that can befall anyone or any organization online in today’s volatile world. At Naylor, we know associations — they’ve been our business for over 50 years — and we know how to develop a strategic reputation management plan that clearly defines your association’s objectives, target audience, key messages, value propositions, strategies and tactics so you can safeguard and elevate your association’s reputation. Find out more about reputation management by talking with us today.