PR and Online Reputation Management:
What is the Difference?
Many people confuse online reputation management with public relations (PR). But while the two are similar in some areas, there are notable differences that set each service apart.
For example, PR services tend to be more public-facing and visible to the outside world. Online reputation management (ORM), however, often takes place behind the scenes, and usually isn’t as obvious to the public. It may help to think of reputation firms as the "man behind the curtain."
In other words, a reputation management agency isn't a PR firm. Public relations professionals are more often focused on building relationships with the public. On the other hand, ORM companies provide more technical, content-based services. The best reputation firms often work with PR agencies to communicate and connect with publishers as they toil away behind the scenes. ORM firms also tend to work under the radar, quietly doing the background work that supports forward-facing PR campaigns.
PR and ORM: What is the difference?
Most people have a basic understanding of what PR firms do to promote a brand. This may include anything from issuing press releases and making announcements to holding press conferences and more. But while some ORM services may seem the same as those listed above, in many ways they are actually quite different. In fact, ORM activities are centered more on long-term reputation strategy than brand promotion or crisis management.
For instance, a reputation management agency likely wouldn't contact Bloomberg or the Washington Post to pitch an interview for its client. On the other hand, a PR firm probably wouldn't consider a search engine suppression effort to bury negative content in Google, or launch efforts to improve a company’s online review presence.
Do PR and ORM agencies both work to shape public sentiment and create positive connections between the public and their clients? Absolutely. But each relies on a completely different set of tools and strategies to achieve their goals.FREE ANALYSIS
PR works out in the open. ORM is in the background.
While PR and ORM aren’t identical, they do often work together to achieve the best results for their clients.
Companies often spend a lot of money on traditional marketing efforts, including on things like billboards, online banner ads and TV commercials. But for large firms and individual brands alike, ORM and public relations services are increasingly important. In fact, reputation management and PR are now considered essential tools for reaching more customers and maintaining a strong competitive advantage.
A closer look at public relations
What is public relations? The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) describes the primary purpose of public relations as: “influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across numerous platforms in order to shape and frame the public perception of an organization.”
In other words, public relations is about cultivating relationships with the brand’s primary audience, and leveraging those connections to improve and harness public sentiment. PR efforts can be proactive and reactive, though they are built on the client’s unique relationship with the public. They’re also an essential tool for managing crises and protecting brand integrity in an emergency.
While careful planning and crisis management are vital parts of any public relations strategy, PR is largely about interfacing and building relationships directly with the public.
What are the key aspects of a public relations campaign?
Every public relations strategy utilizes a unique set of tactics and activities to accomplish a specific goal. PR campaigns tend to zero in on long-term benchmarks instead of short-term gains and often work in concert with reputation management (ORM) campaigns.
A PR campaign may include any combination of the following:
Evaluation. Campaigns often begin with an assessment of your brand image, customers, colleagues, competitors and others. The result is an honest evaluation of your brand’s key strengths and weaknesses (Reputation Analysis is similar, though more focused on your digital image).
Internal communications. Policies may be established to rein in unapproved or off-brand statements by your staff and leadership team.
Promotional planning. Public-facing promotional strategies often include goal-centered planning for anything from ad spending to local media outreach.
Brand building. Branding and rebranding efforts are often essential components of any PR campaign.
Press releases. Press releases highlight positive announcements and brand updates while ensuring maximum coverage among reporters and media personalities.
Media relations. A critical function of PR, media relations management may include any number of public events or processes to get the message out among influential personalities, patrons and others who speak to a wide audience.
Social media promotion. Also a crucial part of ORM, social media management can be leveraged to inspire brand engagement, influence customers, generate brand awareness and more.
Many activities and processes involved in PR require a fair amount of time and labor. Costs can add up fast depending on the size and scope of your campaign. In some cases, an outside PR firm or more staff may be needed to handle any additional needs or specialized duties.
Online reputation management: what is it?
Some think of online reputation management as “digital public relations.” However, ORM solutions don’t involve the public-facing aspect of traditional PR, focusing more on content creation, SEO, social media management, online branding and content removal strategies to improve your brand’s online image and sentiment in Google search results.
While similar to PR campaigns, ORM strategies tend to be much more technical than traditional public relations. A comprehensive online reputation management campaign may include any combination of:
- In-depth analysis of your brand’s online reputation, including customer sentiment, gap analysis, and how you compare to others in your industry
- SEO and search suppression strategies
- Negative content removal
- Online profile development (websites, social media profiles, business listings, Wikipedia pages, etc.)
- Ongoing content development and optimization, including thought leadership articles, social media updates, video creation, press releases, guest posts, and more
- Content publishing and scheduling
- Content repurposing to maximize online asset potential
- Content and asset promotion across social platforms, owned properties and paid outlets
- Online branding for your organization and your leadership team
- Monitoring for new mentions and fast crisis response
- Managing and improving ratings and reviews on major review platforms
What typically happens during a reputation campaign?
A customized reputation management strategy may involve:
- Removal of harmful and inaccurate articles, reviews, blogs and comments damaging your brand (where possible)
- Developing new online assets to provide additional platforms for optimized content
- Optimizing existing assets to boost search ranking and elevate brand position on important results pages
- Managing your reviews and ratings on GMB, Yelp and other major platforms to improve your standing among consumers
- Ongoing performance analysis and tracking of all content platforms featuring your brand online
- DMCA takedown requests and legal action (where applicable)
- Social media management and promotions that inspire engagement, attract more followers, cultivate customer loyalty and promote positive content across the web (reinforcing its relevance and authority in search results in the process)
- Crisis management strategies that address and mitigate new threats promptly
- Continuous monitoring of your brand for new mentions and potential threats across the web
Note: this is not a comprehensive list of all ORM services or tasks. To learn more about reputation management and everything it has to offer, click here.
Is every reputation strategy the same?
No. The size and scope of every ORM strategy depends on client needs and goals. That said, the right reputation agency will carefully tailor your online reputation management campaign to address your brand needs and deliver the best path to successful results.
ORM is a complex, multi-layered process that works to repair your online problems and delivers robust, lasting solutions that improve connections with your target audience.FREE ANALYSIS
What does a comprehensive brand strategy look like?
As stated earlier, ORM and PR strategies often work in unison to create comprehensive branding strategies that target brand needs, manage crises and improve your reputation.
The best online reputation management agencies provide whitehat business reputation solutions that deliver results within your budget. We also offer comprehensive, industry-leading public relations solutions (traditional and advanced) that protect your brand, help you get your message out and inspire stronger connections with your customers.
What public relations services do you provide?
Our comprehensive, custom-made PR solutions combine cutting-edge traditional and digital techniques that empower brand success on and off the web. These include:
- In-depth audit and research of your brand, customer sentiment and online reputation
- Comprehensive ORM strategies to stop threats and reach more customers on the web
- Expert media relations and outreach across all media channels
- Complete branding and rebranding services
- Press release creation & promotion that highlights brand announcements and achievements
- Social media management and influencer outreach to maximize brand engagement
- Brand messaging and promotion services
- And more!
How are ORM and public relations similar?
At their core, ORM and PR campaigns are a lot alike. This is because each relies heavily on the practice of content marketing, or using content to generate a positive impression of your organization or brand.
A recent study found 70% of online consumers relate more to an individual or business after seeing or reading content on the web. What’s more: relevant, brand-centered content makes a positive impact on more than 60% of internet users.
Whether that article, blog or social post is a key component of a public relations strategy or an online reputation management campaign, a strategic combination of PR and ORM may be exactly what your brand needs to stand out and outshine the competition.