Online RepHave you Googled your business lately? Did you like the results? Today’s reality is that the sharp growth in digital media use is making a mockery of the saying ‘Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper’.

And, it’s highly likely that if YOU didn’t like your search results, neither will your ideal customers or prospects.

Recent research shows that digital media use in America is set to exceed TV time this year. This suggests online content is only going to grow in importance as people move towards computers and smart mobiles as their primary information source.

The good news is that online media opens up a myriad of different opportunities for organisations to provide context to stories or to correct articles, even when traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television refuse to do so.

Here are some simple tips on how to use online content to tell your own story and help protect your company’s reputation.

Become a media company

Is your website’s media page being used simply to archive press releases? If so, you are missing a perfect opportunity to create your own digital newsroom. Did a newspaper or TV/radio station refuse to run your reply to that negative story? Make sure you have a statement clearly articulating your point of view visible on your website. Did your supporters write letters to the editor in your defence that weren’t published? They should go up to. But don’t limit yourself to just text…Add photos for extra mileage, or even better film your CEO’s response or advocates’ testimonials. Search engines like Google love visual content. Then, make this media easily accessible on your website.

2. Spread the word through your social network

Once you’ve got your side of the story straight and have placed it prominently on your website, spread the word through other digital and social media channels. Send a link to the article via your e-newsletter distribution list, post a link on your Facebook page, share the content on your blog, post a link on Twitter, share the advocate photos and links on Pinterest and Instagram and post your CEO’s response and advocate videos on YouTube (The number two search engine).

3. Use online document sharing and press release websites

Share a PDF version of your statement on websites like Scribd, Docstoc and Slideshare to add to your authority level, search results and backlinks. Submit your statement to SEO friendly online wire services such as PRWeb, Pitchengine and Newsmaker to gain further online exposure.

An online reputation management campaign should never replace traditional crisis communication strategies. However, the growing appetite for digital content means it should always be included in the mix.

Penny Smits is a communications professional based in Australia.

Penny Smits has worked in the media industry for more than a decade, starting her career as a journalist and photographer for a community newspaper. She then moved into broadcasting, working as a reporter and producer at Radio New Zealand, that country’s State public broadcaster.

Penny migrated to Australia three years ago, initially working as a casual radio journalist at the ABC’s Melbourne newsroom. She has also taught radio news journalism at Monash University and worked as a media and communications advisor for a major health charity. She currently works as a freelance media and communications consultant, with a special focus on SMEs and nonprofit clients.