Med Ad News
July 24, 2008
This potential problem for brands, pharmaceutical and otherwise, has led to the birth of a new breed of marketing consultant: the online brand defender. Either independently or under the aegis of a larger marketing or ad agency organization, a variety of online brand defense offerings have been launched over the past few years, touting an ever-growing list of strategies for responding to, offsetting, or eliminating the negative effects of the noisy unhappy customer online.
Marketers need not look far to discover the unfortunate results of missteps in managing a company’s online brand. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company, was one of the first caught in a maelstrom of its own making. In 2005, the company created the Wal-Marting Across America blog in an attempt to improve its corporate image. But in October 2006, journalists from Business Week exposed the fact that the blog was misrepresented and was actually a flog, or fake blog, in which the authors were paid. This revelation led to attacks from real bloggers and the press – the exact opposite of the intended effect.
Wal-Mart’s misfortune illustrates perhaps the most critical lesson that must be learned by companies attempting to manipulate their reputations online: if they have something to hide, it will almost always get found out, and the results will be unpleasant.
"The outcomes of past social media campaigns demonstrate that ignoring consumer concerns or contributing content without absolute transparency can cause a public relations nightmare," says Maureen Malloy, manager, strategic marketing & corporate communications, Manhattan Research (manhattanresearch.com).
With this in mind, many of the offerings focused on online brand defense emphasize authenticity and thoroughness. The leaders of Star Healthcare, one marketing company with a specialty in online reputation management, put this issue at the top of their list of priorities.
Return to In the News
Med Ad News