Istock 000052877872 medium 1

Bad News Attacks! Heading Off The Threat of a Negative Headline

Blog Team • March 07, 2016

Information spreads fast these days. News stories, even those many might deem insignificant or inconsequential, now have the potential to reach an audience of millions, perhaps even billions of consumers in a matter of seconds. A trending news piece can catch fire on the Web, quickly spreading into a state of hyper-visibility while becoming readily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Being in the know is no more difficult than combing through the news feed on your Facebook profile on your lunch break, or running through the latest trending news on Google during your Monday morning carpool.

Unfortunately, as many public figures, celebrities and companies find out all too quickly, this newfound ability to quench one’s thirst for news can have unique and dire consequences, particularly in a world where negative headlines attract the most interest. While generally negative news items may at times work in one’s favor (think Donald Trump), they usually don’t. Bad news tends to be, well, bad news – which often makes it extremely difficult to not just emerge from the shadow of negative perception, but to successfully pursue the jobs, customers and relationships we all depend on to survive.

What used to be confined and manageable, particularly when released within a news publication’s local market, can now achieve a seemingly unstoppable momentum on the web. This proliferation of negative information can end up posing a real threat to your reputation, and can quickly become a real-life obstacle to your career, company performance and personal life.

Add to that mix the stature a professional news organization may have as an authoritative source, and you have a real problem on your hands; one that can present a nightmare for you, and your online reputation, well into the future.

Guilt By Association

Sandwich giant Subway took quite a hit following the rapid fall of former spokesman Jared Fogle; a highly-publicized scandal that was featured in nearly every major national publication at the time, and a story with enough inertia to remain amongst the top of Google’s first page results to this day. The popular sandwich chain, whose brand was once inextricably linked with Fogle, experienced a significant decline in overall reputation in less than half a year, according to The Reputation Institute. This reputational decline, in turn, forced Subway to reevaluate, or “reset”, the company’s approach to public outreach.

The Subway example helps to illustrate just how quickly a negative news trend can impact, and continue to impact, an online reputation, regardless of the subject’s lack of knowledge, involvement in or attachment to what happened.

A court case, opinion column, public accusation, even an unflattering YouTube video can become the subject of a news article in no time at all, working to establish, nurture and solidify a negative public persona just as soon as it’s posted. By virtue of being negative, and by existing as the post of an authoritative source, the item may attain the staying power it needs to become a reputational albatross; a burden for one’s image that may take years to overcome.

An Attack From All Angles

“With so many local and industry-focused news sites,” says Dave Kerpen of Entrepreneur.com, “it’s easier than ever to find yourself garnering a little attention in the headlines.” Couple this with the fact that a negative news item can haunt, harm and possibly even destroy your online reputation, and it becomes pretty easy to imagine the myriad of ways an online article can impact your life. Bad news, when featured prominently on Google’s all powerful first page, has the potential to:

  • Affect Your Career/Livelihood

Seventy percent of hiring managers and recruiters have outright rejected job candidates based on information they discovered online, according to a study cited in the  Huffington Post. It is common for both current and potential employers to spend time Googling a job candidate, something that can be devastating for anyone seeking to enter or advance their career. Any chance you have of snagging your dream job, or even keeping your current position, may be severely and swiftly impacted by even the remotest of connections to a negative news story.

  • Hurt Your Company’s Bottom Line

The retail giant Target was hit hard in 2013 following news of a substantial breach of customer data, according to MarketWatch.com. This not only hurt public perception of the company’s ability to secure customer information, but also led to a significant decline in share value. Such a negative headline, particularly in the digital universe, can have a considerable impact on consumer perception and company profitability.

  • Impact Your College Application

What may have once seemed like an insignificant indiscretion of a rambunctious youth could come back to haunt you during the college application process. Where competition to get in is high, even a small, years-old news blurb can make a big difference during the selection process.

  • Interfere with Personal Friendships/Relationships

In a day and age when information on nearly anyone can be found with the simple swipe of a finger, it’s probably safe to assume that many of those close to you (friends, family, spouses, etc.) are Googling your name at some point in the relationship. Because negative news items tend to rank so high in search results, there’s no telling how your reputation amongst friends, family and even potential love interests will be affected once something negative is discovered.

Fighting Back

Bad news can be a drain on an individual’s online reputation, particularly when it lingers at or near the top of search results for any and all to see. And news publications, which enjoy the powerful protection of the First Amendment, are often reluctant, if not immovable, when it comes to changing, removing or retracting an online piece.

Fortunately, there are numerous, relatively simple ways an individual or business can  combat the impact of a negative online article; to begin repairing and restoring their Internet reputations to something that works in their best interest:

  • Taking Control Over Your Social Media Presence

Taking the time to nurture one’s social media presence can be an immensely powerful and effective way fight bad online news. Searchers seeking information on a Boston-area neurosurgeon, for example, don’t find the front-page Boston Globe story concerning a her then-pending legal battle with a dissatisfied patient, but rather a first page list populated by overwhelmingly positive social media results.

  • Developing and Curating a Personal/Professional Blog

The consistent and proper curation of a personal/professional blog page provides search engines a positive asset to crawl and rank. This can help to demonstrate your subject matter expertise, as well as to link to and build a following on those ever-so-crucial social media profiles.

  • Creating a Personal Website/URL

Website creation not only provides a positive online asset for people to find, it can also help to improve your visibility and reputation, and can even help to boost your bottom line.

“By creating optimized content, building relevant links and creating a brand that customers want to engage with, you set yourself up as an authority in the eyes of the search engine,” says Lisa Barone of smallbiztrends.com. “An optimized website helps you to gain important visibility for the right terms.” 

  • Participating in Charity/Performing Good Deeds

The benefits of philanthropy can be enormous for a community. They can also be an incredible boon for your online reputation. Not only do you get the opportunity to give back, but you also have the chance to post about your experience on your blog, your social media profiles and your website. Who knows...your participation could become a positive news story itself!

Don’t let a bad headline take control of your online destiny. If you’re in need of powerful and professional online reputation management services, trust the experts at InternetReputation.com today. Our team can help you overcome negative news, and restore the positive online presence you deserve.

Sources:

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/262736-republicans-fuming-over-trumps-media-command

http://nrn.com/marketing/report-jared-fogle-investigation-hurt-subway-s-reputation

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/239064

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/neil-patel/6-tactics-that-online-per_b_8501608.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/7-companies-hurt-by-bad-publicity-2014-08-18

http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/04/doctors-online-reputation-survived-front-page-newspaper-story.html

http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/08/5-benefits-smb-website.html