PR practitioners are well aware of the impact of new technologies on their industry. The explosion of social media as a means to reach out to audiences has changed the way we operate hugely over the past few years. Reputations can go up in seconds if the right campaign takes off and down equally as quickly if a conversation turns bad. For that reason, PR has been at the forefront of managing clients’ digital profiles, alongside its role within the mainstream media.
But will PR ever become a matter of which software to use?
John Arlidge wrote an interesting article in The Sunday Times, How naked are you online? on the rise in US technology companies offering online reputation management. While at this stage, the focus is primarily on individuals protecting their personal data, understanding its value and how to profit from it, there is another dimension.
These new companies, such as reputation.com, profiledefenders.com, bigbluerobot.com, and outspokenmedia.com (amongst others), not only offer to monitor online mentions but will manipulate which posts are seen – “if an unfair post or review turns up in your search results, whizzy algorithms will draw attention to more flattering posts that will force the negative one down the list.”
Good content will always be paramount, but are we moving towards a scenario where defensive software such as this will be the determining factor behind how people and brands are perceived online?