Protect Your Rep: The Importance of Online Reputation Management

David Snyder, a Search and Social Media Strategist at http://snydeysense.com/ will be lending his knowledge over in this neck of the woods about once a week.  Here is his first piece for SportsAgentBlog.com.  Enjoy.

No market is as volatile on the web right now as sports.  The rise of social media and thus the voice of the citizen journalist has not had a more profound effect on any market more than it has sports.

Deadspin is one of Technorati’s top 100 blogs. Profootballtalk.com’s “Turd Watch” has become fodder for sports radio stations across the country. And this style of sports journalism, that focuses more on the exploits of athletes, is finding its way into the mainstream sports media.

Your clients are being talked about online, whether you are making the conversation happen or not.

The biggest problem with all of this is that the concept of Online Reputation Management is not being embraced by sports agents, sports organizations, and athletes. The current environment is not one suited for the old code of “Keep your mouth shut and let things roll by.”

On the other hand Roger Clemens, is a great example of this pitfalls of reputation management failed.

The person that this new brand of media has the most potential harm for is the low profile professional athlete. These athletes are easily disposed of their teams, or if they are involved in an individual sport they run the deadly risk of losing sponsorships.

How do you handle a reputation crisis?

By being transparent. People will find out the truth, or think they know the truth already. By being transparent, and offering apologies or solutions you can often squelch the online fire.  It seems counter intuitive to the concepts formerly held dear by PR specialists, but there is case study after case study about Fortune 500 companies employing the concepts of transparency to keep their reputation intact online.

What steps should you take to protect your rep and your investment?

1) Setup a reputation monitoring system. These can range in price from free to several thousand dollars a month. I have created a free tool at http://snydeysense.com/snydey-web.

2) Monitor sentiment about your athlete, both positive and negative.

3) Create allies in the sports publishing market. A good relationship with bloggers and forum moderators can go a long way to putting out a fire.

4) Hire an SEO to flush negative sentiment out of search results on Google and other engines if a reputation issue does come up.

5) If a crisis does hit, act fast, and be transparent. If your athlete gets found driving while impaired, release a statement written by the athlete apologizing and promising to send a donation to M.A.D.D. This will take the bloggers fodder away; you’ve addressed the issue and there are few people that don’t respect a person that accepts blame and looks to right their wrong.

When you are talking about reputation management you are really talking about protecting an investment you have made in an athelete or coach. Sitting on your hands can never save you money, and poor rep management can cost you everything. Take the time to setup a strong plan for your client base, and you will likely see the return on your investment of time.

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  • I agree…if your clients are going to be talked about online, as an agent, you should be an active participant in the conversation. All of us at Dynasty definitely embrace Online Reputation Management, whether it is through this blog, MySpace, Facebook, etc. The true value of leveraging these platforms has not really been noticed yet. For instance, I cannot wait to see how some of my clients benefit when they make it to the majors and already have established a strong fan base.

  • My test is typing my name or a friends name in Google. I keep Google Alerts for a lot keywords and names. The net is so volatile thus being web savvy goes along way for an agent.

  • I agree, the internet is key for all marketing now a days. Dynasty and Darren seem to be allready ahead of the game in that department.
    What do yo have to say about the Mike Vick situation? What should his agent have done in that instance and is it possible to fix his image in the media and in the NFL when he gets released in 23 months?

  • Michael Vick should have been transparent from the outset. If he had been honest about his involvement with dog fighting, taken his punishment, and given funds to animal cruelty causes.

    His silence made the unearthing of evidence more sensational.

    If he comes clean as soon as the event happens, I am not sure we get unearthed animal remains, and vivid details of torture, that likely cost him future earnings. No matter what he was going to jail. No matter what he was going to be despised by a large amount of the public for his acts.

    But if he had been transparent and remorseful from the outset I am sure his chances of reclaiming his livelihood would have been greater. The internet beat in that case was fueled by his silence and denial.

  • The internet can be a great tool if used and controlled the right way. Just like Kenji summers commented above, I the internet is very volatile It can go bad at any minute. But it is a very powerful tool when used to expand a fan base outside of a particular sport image lifestyle and broaden your reach. I am a blogger/social media marketer and we work with lots of clients educating them on how to monitor and control their brand and message over the internet. I’m working with Motorola and they have set up a micro-site for Danica Patrick to show her playful personality on a fake talk show called “at home with Danica Patrick”. It’s pretty funny. She has a great sense of humor. Check it out here:Danica Patrick Spoof video.
    This presents her outside of a race car and gives her personality.

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