Online Reputation Management

Need to improve your online reputation? We can help.

In today’s age, there is very little that can protect you from criticism, and negative stories can spread instantly.

This is particularly bad if you or your company has been defamed or attacked.

Your online reputation can be a curse or a blessing; and whichever it is, it has enormous implications on your business or personal brand.

The first page of Google is your business card, and what it says is often the most critical factor in how an individual or brand is perceived. To have a negative result show up is one of the worst things that can happen.

The reality is, if you have a poor online reputation there is no more hiding from it – you must face it head-on. The longer you bury your head in the sand, the more it will cost you and your business.

To be in control you must develop a strategy to improve how your brand is perceived, particularly in search results, media, reviews and social media.

You must also be conscious of any stakeholders, events or other factors that may continue to impact your reputation.

We are a leading agency focused on improving reputations and influencing change

We have a heritage in the tough end of public relations and corporate affairs, and are able to guide you through crises, or sustained and potentially crippling issues.

We work primarily in the areas of crisis, reputation, influence, digital transformation, media relations, investor relations, government relations, community engagement, and litigation, and our team consists of specialists with expertise and networks across key sectors.

We’re cool heads in a hot situation, and a steady hands to navigate through difficult times.

We hire the best and develop strategies that succeed.

Our core values are excellence, strong and honest relationships, nimbleness and creativity.

Be wary: the online reputation management industry is without rules or ethical guidelines

There are plenty of operators in the online reputation management space.

In our experience, many have an understanding that is far too narrow, focused solely around the digital sphere: search engine optimisation (SEO), reviews, content removal policies of major publishers, and various digital tricks for boosting or hiding content on various sites or search engines.

It’s unwise to jump into action, devoid of a cohesive strategy.

Taking shortcuts often lands you in hot water, such as being flagged for violating Google’s Terms of Service – where your ranking can be penalised, and all your hard work undone. Some have even been exposed directly by journalists.

This doesn’t affect the consultant or agency you work with – this affects you.

Many of these operators lack either the diligence to explore, or the necessary experience to understand the bigger picture and all the factors at play.

You cannot intend to influence reputational change and arrive at a safe and successful outcome without first taking time to consider all potential stakeholders and scenarios. This is a process that requires care and thoughtfulness. To do it properly you must be thorough.

We caution anyone considering how they repair their reputation to not easily fall prey to practitioners that say “it’s easy” and promise impossible results.

What you want is a team you can trust

As a digital-first public relations and corporate affairs agency, we approach online reputation management and influence from all angles. Our team has the breadth of experience that’s required to do the job, to do the right thing, and to deliver results.

We deal with issues ranging from dead simple to the dreadfully complex. Some more serious crises include listed public companies and high-profile individuals being attacked in the media, extortion, sex abuse allegations, cyber-attacks, and journalists being locked up as political prisoners overseas.

After nearly two decades of developing high-level communications strategies for companies and individuals of all sizes, across all sectors, working closely with media and journalists, we are simply more experienced, able and aware to assist individuals or brands in the space of online reputation management compared to other firms or practitioners. We provide a level of insight that produces a far more nuanced strategy, sensitive to all the potential variables and stakeholders at play.

Work in this space is highly tailored, but most clients can expect comprehensive reputation audits and media monitoring, workshops that build stakeholder and risk matrix’s, guidance in re-shaping brand narrative and developing critical key messages, and production of high quality written and video content by award-winning writers and producers.

Beyond that, the heartbeat of our work is our ongoing, proactive efforts via digital and traditional channels to affect change with publishers, lawyers, government, investors, private sector and boards, community groups and industry bodies. We understand all too well that we’re dealing with people, and contact must be nuanced: sometimes direct, through networks, or through the use of strategic content and smart campaigns.

Strategically, we understand how to best respond (or, not) when you’re under attack or suffering reputational damage, and are best suited to advise.

Introducing your team

Our online reputation management division is primarily handled by Peter and Sam Wilkinson, both leaders in their fields.

Clarity and nimbleness are essential in specialist communications. Between them is a wealth of experience steering through the chaos of various crises and issues, which can trash reputation and revenue.

Peter Wilkinson

Chairman

Peter Wilkinson is a crisis management & recovery expert with over 17 years of experience in this field.

Previously, Peter was one of Australia’s most respected TV journalists with over 30 years working on programs including the ABC’s This Day Tonight and Four Corners, and then Channel Nine’s ACA and 60 Minutes.

Peter is the Chair of the Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom, advocating for media freedom in Australia and Asia.

He is past Chair of the Global Communications Alliance, an organisation of corporate and public affairs agencies that specialise in crisis.

He is also past regional president (Asia/Pacific) of IPREX, one of the world’s global largest PR corporations.

He has been a member of four industry task forces, strengthening relationships between industry and government.

Since leaving journalism in 2002, he has managed successful crisis outcomes in many sectors including countering cyber-security attacks, freeing journalists’ imprisoned overseas, sexual abuse/harassment, media and social media attacks, industry restructures, product recalls, a food poisoning, mergers and acquisitions, court cases, judicial inquiries and royal commissions, countering or creating activist campaigns, pollution spills, extortion and blackmail threats, and fires/explosions.

A lot of these crises are exacerbated by social media; others, as companies’ struggle to cope with the rapid changes brought about by structural, cultural or digital transformation. The ‘recovery’ part of a crisis often involves significant change management – transformation; always with a focus on protecting and improving reputation.

When it comes to helping people or brands improve their reputation, Peter’s experience allows him to quickly identify the known and potentially unknown aspects of a situation, and propose non-inflammatory solutions through the eyes of an investigative journalist turned experienced PR and crisis management expert. He strategically oversees all elements of execution, has a careful eye, and is always a phone call away.

“Crisis PR is perhaps the most stressful type of communication. It usually involves intense media, which can be merciless. Some people around us will lose their cool and want to change strategy. Others will try and interfere, thinking they know what’s best. After an event, say a story on TV, many will second-guess what should have been done. To survive a crisis, we need to be experienced, confident and assertive, giving clear instructions nimbly and simply. We need a thick skin.”

Sam Wilkinson

Head of Digital

Sam is one of Australia’s leading specialists in reputation management. In addition to being the Head of Digital at Wilkinson Butler, he heads up the online reputation management division and is the point of contact for all clients seeking to improve the online component of their reputation.

Sam understands how critical it is that an individual or brand’s reputation remains positive across all channels and touch-points. When it’s not, he knows how to best repair, improve and protect that reputation from future incidents.

He has extensive experience developing communication and reputation strategies and running campaigns for clients of all sizes and industries, including global FMCGs, listed companies, law firms and class actions, leading medical professionals, venture capital firms, startups and more.

Sam is an expert in web development, search engine optimisation (SEO), digital marketing, advertising and social media; he has a keen eye for detail and an astute understanding of the ‘ins-and-outs’ of the changing digital landscape.

Combined with his experience in managing crises and complex issues, Sam is able to quickly analyse the moving parts in a given situation, and with an awareness of the various stakeholders and other factors that could affect certain outcomes, build a comprehensive strategy that uses both digital and traditional means to influence reputational change.

Prior to working in corporate affairs and issues management, Sam worked in the advertising industry for 8 years, employed by major multinationals including Viacom and Disney to work on world-class brands such as MTV, National Geographic, Nickelodeon and ESPN. Through this time, Sam has serviced almost all major advertising agencies, and many of the smaller independent or direct agencies.

Supporting your team

While Peter and Sam are the primary points of contact for online reputation management, the strategy and execution are underpinned by a team of heavyweights.

Wilkinson Butler’s experts have a wealth of highly valuable experience, and their networks span a variety of sectors.

You can scroll through them, and click on their image to open up a detailed profile.

Take control of your reputation today

Our Process

A brief outline of our approach

Understanding

What happened? What's being said? Conduct a full brand audit across traditional media and digital platforms, and identify every problem or incident.

Monitor

Our mix of traditional media and digital monitoring services alert us when you are mentioned, enabling us to decide whether to respond and take action quickly.

Stakeholder matrix

Who is affected? Who are we influencing? Who will respond? Who do we contact? How? This is extremely important for assessing the potential outcomes of various actions.

Set objectives

For most clients, it's a clean first page of Google. This is the single most important thing - it needs to be a positive story. For others, it's improving reviews and online brand sentiment or removing personally identifiable information.

Rules of engagement

We must know how to respond when any number of things happen, and everyone has to be on the same page. This involves developing key messages, workshopping possible outcomes, and getting ahead of the message and controlling it.

Content removal

A false claim? A comment or review aimed at destroying your reputation? Does it contain inaccurate language? Press freedom is an essential part of our democracy, but between our in-house skillset and our contacts into publishers and top defamation lawyers, we can correct inaccurate material and in certain circumstances have it removed.

Content creation

A good content strategy focuses on increasing the number of brand-related keywords mentions that are indexed online. Some content we create on behalf of the client: new websites, videos and social profiles. Some content is shopped out: news or articles we have pitched to publishers or industry websites.

Ranking strategy

We devise search marketing strategies in partnership with top SEO agencies that increase the ranking of fresh, positive content. This in effect pushes down older, negative content. Our content is high quality, authoritative and SEO-optimised, so it will rank highly as fast as possible.

Traditional strategy

Sometimes it's easier to go straight to the source. We excel at affecting change within our networks, which include contacts across media, government, private sector and boards, law, celebrity, community groups and industry bodies.

Long-tail marketing considerations

Once your reputation is repaired, you will often be left with high-ranking SEO-optimised assets: a marketer’s dream. To have these without a purpose is wasteful, so we consult with our clients on what kind of websites might be useful to not only future-proof the brand, but uniquely position themselves as thought-leaders and generate strong leads.

Managing your expectations

It is important that we do things correctly.

One mis-step and there can be a backlash of criticism that we have seen spiral out of control, time and time again, both online and offline: a crisis that can kill your reputation everywhere.

As noted before, some online reputation management practitioners promote shortcuts and ethical grey-zones. These might seem tempting and may work for a while, but more often than not they eventually fail and land you right back where you started.

Also, it’s important to recognise that only Google has control over its search engine results algorithm. Nobody can make outright promises in relation to permanently altering your online reputation with regards to how content about you ranks on Google.

And remember: unless it qualifies for Google’s removal policy, or we are able to persuade webmasters or publishers to remove the content manually, negative content is unlikely to be completely removed from search engine results.

We’ll work tirelessly to deliver the best possible outcome, but there is often no way to guarantee permanent success.

Other related services

Crisis Management

Media Training

Online reputation management

Now it's your turn. Take control.

Let's chat