Personal Reputation Optimisation

Personal Reputation Management: Making the internet work for you
by Louis Halpern and Roy Murphy
224 pages, Halpern Cowan, 2009

personal reputation managementThe boundary between the personal and professional is blurring (just take a look at your Facebook ‘friends’ or your Twitter followers and see if I’m wrong) as is the distinction between public and private.

The latter distinction has huge implications for safety, security and even employability that most students have barely begun to consider. The former is much more encouraging. It suggests that if you can do public relations for yourself, then it’s highly likely you’ll be competent to do it for others.

So PR starts at home with Personal Reputation.

Our guides to this new PR are two digital marketing experts, Louis Halpern and Roy Murphy.

The stakes are high. They recount how a radio station DJ was dismissed from his job once his name had appeared on a leaked membership list of a controversial right wing political party.

‘In the internet age, your personal ‘brand‘ or identity is never off duty and your reputation is always ‘switched on’.

Personal reputation has always mattered: reputation and relationships are preconditions of commercial success in traditional markets. But the rise of the media (printing press, broadcast, internet) extends the reach of the reputation concept. People are under more scrutiny than ever before: everyone’s famous now.

Hence the need for online reputation management. The approach proposed here applies brand marketing principles:

It might sound like marketing gobbledygook but thinking about yourself as a brand helps separate out the professional ‘you’ from the personal ‘you’.

At its heart, this book discusses how to use websites and social media to promote and protect brand you and how to apply the principles of search engine optimisation (SEO).

SEO tips revolve around consistency (of reputation story), content (relevant and punchy), indexing (on search engines) and linking (to quality people and networks).

I enjoyed reading this short, stylish book. Most paragraphs are brief enough to be squeezed into a 140-character tweet and it’s a quick book to browse.

As ever, the key question is why write a book about online topics. The answer is that while the early adopters are online, the majority have yet to take the plunge and basic advice on promoting blogs by writing comments on other’s is useful. If it was only available online, the authors would merely be preaching to the converted.

Any quibbles? It’s an upbeat book, but I would have thought a discussion of the risks (spam, scams, link farms, phishing – they’re all here) merited a chapter to itself in a book written for newbies.

‘Public relations is about reputation’ proclaims the CIPR’s definition. I become a bit prickly when digital marketers seek to colonise our territory, but will acknowledge that they’ve done it well – and there’s a gap that we’ve left open to them. Have they taught me anything new about reputation: probably not. Did I learn anything about SEO: probably yes.


  1. It is time that PR people embrace Digital. Magazines are closing down, eMags are on the rise, people read their news on their iPhones and Google crawls the entire web. Time for PR to rethink their modus operandi and come to terms that digital will eventually be the most prominent source of communication AND information. The old PR model is on the brink of death and Facebook, Twitter and the likes of have redefined the boundaries. Get on the boat and unleash Digital PR because the internet is not about to go away.

  2. I wonder which ‘old PR model’ you’re referring to? Let me guess, it’s media relations.

    Because it’s so visible, many people outside the industry assume that PR equals media relations. In reality, PR practitioners are evolving into social media communicators who have taken to Twitter like ducks to water.

    There’s an argument that SEO is replacing PR – but an equally strong case that PR equals SEO.

  3. Personal SEO is something I would urge all graduates to consider. We now live in an age where organisations routinely google people’s names to get a greater understanding of a prospective employee.

    We all leave a digital footprint and people need to remember that whilst the internet presents many opportunities, it is often permanent, instant and viral.

  4. Ben, absolutely. Digital footprint is the right term indeed. The first thing I do when I need new staff in my team (digital team) is google their name and see what comes up. What applies to companies and brands applies to individuals in exactly the same way when it comes to online reputation -the main reason being that the information is available to everyone, all the time.

  5. Indeed Boris. I think people all too often forget that the internet is a very public place and one that leaves a clear trail. Forever. What is intended to remain private can quickly escalate – look no further than Holly Leam-Taylor at Deloitte last week.

    In one of my previous roles at a professional sports club, I created social media guidelines to remind players of the potential pitfalls of social media, as well as the many benefits.

    However, I’m still staggered at the lack of guidance companies offer employees on this matter – ultimately bad behavior by an employee online will damage the organisation’s reputation too.

  6. …and, as aresult, many companies decide to ban the use of social media within the office as opposed to encourage it and educate their staff. Mostly because many organisations are still run by older generation executives who can’t get their heads around the internet and wish it would go away… See interesting blog post here on the subject:

  7. A very practical and logical ‘review’.

    Personally, I never heard of ‘reputation management’ online, even though I’ve been ‘online’ for over 10 years. I now appreciate and embrace the online climate and how things have changed.

    It is through this book that I decided to take action and manage my reputation. I have now registered ‘my domain name’ – by that I mean

Speak Your Mind