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