Reputation Management in Public Relations: Protect Your Brand’s Reputation in the Digital Age

Reputation management is the process of monitoring, controlling, and influencing how people perceive your brand. It involves proactively building your brand’s positive reputation and responding to feedback or events that could negatively impact it.

Reputation management is critical for brands today for several reasons:

  • Online reviews significantly influence purchasing decisions. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business according to BrightLocal.
  • Negative reputation spreads quickly on social media. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience according to Lee Resources.
  • Customers value transparency. 81% of customers are more likely to do business with a company that demonstrates authenticity and transparency according to Stackla.
  • Search rankings depend on reputation signals. Brands with positive reputations and engagement tend to rank higher in search engines.

In summary, actively managing your brand’s reputation has become vital to attracting customers, nurturing loyalty, managing crises, and maintaining a competitive edge.

The Role of PR in Reputation Management

Public relations plays a critical role in reputation management by shaping how a brand is perceived. PR professionals build positive brand awareness through media relations outreach that presents the brand in the best possible light. When negative stories do emerge, PR can mitigate the damage by including the brand’s perspective. Thought leadership content marketing that consistently communicates a brand’s values, achievements and initiatives is a key strategy PR uses to proactively manage reputation.

Specifically, PR supports reputation management through the following:

  • Media relations outreach secures positive news coverage that builds brand awareness and shapes public perception.
  • Response strategies address negative press and present the brand’s side of the story.
  • Thought leadership content reinforces and controls the brand’s narrative.
  • Social listening and online monitoring identifies potential issues and conversations.
  • Relationship building with key media contacts and industry influencers.

With an emphasis on two-way communication and engagement, public relations provides the strategies and channel access to tell an organization’s story in a compelling way. This practice enables brands to craft and protect the reputation they desire through ongoing PR and content marketing initiatives.

Monitoring Online Reputation

Monitoring online reputation involves keeping a close eye on what is being said about your brand across the internet. This process includes tracking online reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook, monitoring brand mentions on social media platforms like X (Twitter) and Instagram, and staying on top of discussions happening in industry forums and communities.

To effectively monitor online reputation, brands should use social listening and review management tools and software. These tools provide analytics and alerts to quickly surface online reviews, social conversations, and other brand mentions in one centralized dashboard. Popular tools include Hootsuite, Mention, ReviewTrackers, and Sprout Social. Brands should assign community managers or social media strategists with the responsibility of monitoring the brand’s online reputation using these tools on a daily basis.

Regular monitoring helps brands spot negative feedback and reviews early so they can respond and mitigate reputational damage. It also allows brands to find happy customers providing praise and positive reviews to highlight in their marketing and PR efforts.

Responding to Feedback

Responding quickly and professionally to online reviews and feedback is a critical reputation management strategy. Brands should aim to address criticism and complaints within 24 hours whenever possible. A timely response shows customers that the company cares and is paying attention.

When responding to negative feedback, it’s important to remain professional and empathetic. Avoid getting defensive or argumentative. Instead, apologize for any inconvenience and offer to make things right. Providing prompt and sincere customer service often turns angry customers into brand advocates.

Reputable brands monitor social media daily and have processes in place to immediately respond to feedback. Prompt responses can mitigate damage, demonstrate accountability, and show customers that their voice is heard.

Pushing Positive Brand Stories

One of the key strategies in reputation management is proactively pushing out positive brand stories and content. By sharing company news and updates, executive and employee profiles, community involvement initiatives, and other stories, brands can shape the narrative around their reputation. 

Some examples of positive storytelling include:

  • Sharing company news and product announcements: Press releases, social media updates, CEO blogs, and other owned media channels allow a company to directly communicate the latest developments. Google frequently pushes out updates on new products and features through its Google Keyword blog.
  • Executive thought leadership: Publishing interviews, op-eds, and bylined articles with top executives presents knowledge and insight. The athletic brand lululemon regularly features its CEO Calvin McDonald in media profiles and conferences.
  • CSR and community giving: Promoting corporate social responsibility efforts and community philanthropy shows a brand’s values. Food company Danone highlights its initiatives like water access and sustainable agriculture via its Manifesto Ventures site.
  • Social impact campaigns: Purpose-driven marketing around causes builds brand affinity. Fashion retailer Eileen Fisher’s Campaign for Consciousness shares the brand’s goals around sustainability and women’s empowerment.
  • Behind-the-scenes content: Providing an inside look at products, people and processes allows audiences to connect with a brand. Makeup brand Glossier is known for its authentic content like factory tours and employee spotlights.

Proactively developing and distributing positive brand stories allows companies to shape their reputation on their own terms versus reacting defensively. Integrating press relations, owned media, executive engagement, and CSR creates a multi-channel approach to control brand narrative.

Influencer Relationships

Building authentic relationships with key influencers in your industry can be hugely beneficial for reputation management. According to Forbes, influencer marketing in 2024 will be more about micro-influencers than major celebrities, because consumers crave authenticity and relatability. Identifying influencers who truly know and care about your brand, and who can organically work your product or service into their content, is invaluable.

The ideal approach is collaborating for mutual benefit. Provide influencers with exclusive information, products and experiences that excite their audience. In return, they can create authentic and engaging branded content to expand your reach. It should feel like a natural fit, not a paid promotion. Done right, these partnerships give you the kind of genuine third-party endorsement and exposure money can’t buy.

Crisis Communications

Having a crisis communication plan in place is critical for reputation management. When a crisis hits, it’s important to respond quickly with transparency. Issuing a swift, honest statement shows customers you are being proactive and have nothing to hide.

Key elements of an effective crisis plan include assigning roles, monitoring social media, and having pre-drafted templates ready to go. The plan should outline processes for gathering information, verifying facts, getting leadership approval, and disseminating messages across media channels.

Ongoing monitoring after the crisis is critical too. Updating stakeholders with the latest information demonstrates that you take the situation seriously. Follow-up communication should explain how you’re addressing the problem and what you will do to prevent it in the future.

Reputation Campaign Examples

There are many examples of successful reputation management campaigns from well-known brands that have skillfully navigated PR crises or proactively built their brand image. These case studies demonstrate the power of an integrated communications approach across media relations, social media, thought leadership and stakeholder engagement.

One example is Samsung, which faced a major reputation crisis when its Galaxy Note 7 phones were catching fire and getting banned from airplanes. Samsung launched a large-scale reputation repair campaign, including full-page apology ads in major newspapers, video messages from executives, and direct engagement with customers on social media. They offered refunds and exchanges, ramped up testing procedures, and implemented communication protocols to get ahead of any future incidents. As a result, Samsung was able to turn around brand perception and recover sales within a few quarters.

Another case study is from Nestlé, which has proactively managed issues like sustainability, health and transparency through corporate social responsibility initiatives and multi-channel thought leadership campaigns. For example, they launched the My Own Cup initiative to reduce waste from single-use packaging, and shared insights through an educational video series on their commitment to sustainability. The integrated PR and marketing campaign enabled Nestlé to get ahead of reputation issues and reinforce its position as a leader in these areas.

These examples demonstrate how aligning PR, digital engagement, executive messaging and marketing assets can help brands successfully navigate reputation challenges and connect authentically with stakeholders.

Measuring Success

There are several key metrics to track when measuring the success of reputation management efforts. Here are some of the most important:

Brand Awareness, Reach, and Engagement

Social media analytics can show you brand awareness, reach, and engagement metrics. Look at followers, impressions, and shares to quantify your brand visibility and audience interaction.

Sentiment Tracking

Tools like social media monitoring software and online review trackers can analyze sentiment and identify recurring themes in online conversations about your brand. These tools help you gauge satisfaction levels.

Online Reviews

The volume, quality, and sentiment of online reviews across platforms indicates your reputation and customer satisfaction. Tracking ratings and recurring feedback topics is key.

PR Value

PR value equivalency quantifies the value of positive media coverage by estimating what it would cost to purchase that space or time via advertising. This metric helps you assess your ROI.

Conclusion: Ongoing Reputation Management Is Key

Reputation management should be an ongoing focus for brands, not just a one-time initiative. By continually monitoring online conversations, responding appropriately to feedback, pushing positive stories, building relationships, and preparing for crises, brands can build credibility and trust.

Bringing all of these reputation management strategies together requires an integrated approach across PR, marketing, customer service, and other departments. When different teams work together with a shared purpose of protecting the brand, the results are far greater.

For readers looking to improve their reputation management, the next steps are to audit their current brand perception, set clear goals, develop a comprehensive strategy, and dedicate appropriate resources. The investment into proactive reputation management pays off exponentially when crises strike or new opportunities arise.

Protecting and enhancing brand reputation takes constant vigilance, but the rewards are worth the effort. With an effective strategy in place, brands can thrive for the long-term.


Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.


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