Besides optimization, there are also paid search strategies every brand manager can implement to help in the process of reputation
management online. These include:
- Continually monitoring and notify-ing the search engines of brand trademark misuse
- Purchasing the top spot for the brand name
- Monitoring for domain misspellings and brand jacking: Managers of popular brands should type in their brand names and look
closely at the results to ensure that no URL jacking has occurred. Unethical marketers will buy a URL similar to another brand's
(for example, "
http://allavert.com/," which is a common misspelling for the allergy drug Alavert). But consumers will be unaware that they've clicked on an incorrect
BABY STEP NUMBER 3:
At this point, a brand manager can begin to fully manage the brand's reputation. An industry as carefully scrutinized as pharma
certainly does not need yet another black eye. And it is true; digging into negative search results to determine what content
lies within them can open up a Pandora's box of adverse effects. However, pretending the content does not exist can leave
false and misleading information sitting in cyberspace, waiting to be read by a consumer seeking reliable health information.
And what if a consumer reads erroneous or out-of-date information about a drug and then gets sick or, worse, dies?
Instead of worrying about the potential headaches of committing to this step in a reputation-management program, companies
should be concerned about the infinitely worse headaches that can come from avoiding it.
Negative and incorrect information is not the only content pharmaceutical companies are missing if they refuse to venture
into the blogosphere. Customer advocates and potential brand evangelists are everywhere, and third-party endorsements of a
brand can be priceless in this industry where so many are doubtful of trustworthiness. What then should a brand manager do
to get started? This type of program is most effective with executive buy-in. Therefore, getting the corporation on board
with the policy is an ambitious yet important goal to have. Regulatory teams need to be involved, too, and they can help with
eventual presentations of the policy to FDA.
STEPS LEAD TO TRUST
These steps might seem like a long shot and overly aggressive in an industry that has long shied away from participating in
new media because of strict government regulations, but they are still worth striving for over time.
To influence consumers and demonstrate that a brand is trustworthy, the industry must show that it is not afraid of getting
to a point where it will participate in an open dialogue with both its critics and its supporters.
Heather Frahm is president of Catalyst Online, a search engine marketing firm. She can be reached at