I recently wrote an article for the PRCA website (Public Relations Consultants Association) that talks about the rapidly increasing requirement for PR consultants to actively manage online reputations. It’s an area that any PR agency worth its salt is taking very seriously, but isn’t limited to those of us working in public relations. With the advent of the real-time web, Google reporting tweets in SERPS and Sidewiki, every company, large or small, has to start treating online brand monitoring as a critical function.
This isn’t simply opinion, however, it’s fact. And if you need convincing of this, in the last few days I’ve stumbled across a fantastic example of a company that is, apparently, completely ignorant of the power of digital media and the hammering it is receiving in this channel.
The business in question is a recruitment agency called BD Recruitment, based in Manchester. About this time last year, the company annoyed a prospective client so much that, after complaining privately and getting nowhere, he chose to write this post on his blog. In it, he slates BD Recruitment’s spam-led approach and goes on to recommend a competitive company. What’s interesting, however, is not the post itself, or the fact that it gained 30-odd comments from people largely agreeing with him and calling BD Recruitment, among other things, “a bunch of jokers” and “bean-eating morons”. What’s interesting is that if you run a Google search for the term BD Recruitment, the blog post comes up 3rd in the SERPS, directly below the company’s own website. Furthermore, with his knowledge of SEO, the blogger has entitled his post (and thus, what Google displays): “BD Recruitment Ltd of Manchester I Will Never Use Your Services”.
It’s now nearly a year since the blog post was written, and yet the post is still placing higher than everything other than the company’s own website in the search rankings. Indeed, a separate blogger has now added his own post, entitled “BD Recruitment Send Email CCing Every SEO in the North West”, which now appears at position 4. And incredibly, just last week in an update on the original post, the blogger says that BD Recruitment is still spamming companies. The blogger tweeted this, which is where I and many others would have come to see the post.
If there’s one thing that this mini-case study demonstrates, it’s that reputations can and will be won and lost online as we move into the new decade. BD Recruitment seems to have no idea what damage is being done to its brand on the web, and has made no attempt to contact the blogger, apologise, discuss the issues and ask for the post to be removed. (UPDATE 26/1/10: see comments below.) Or maybe it simply doesn’t care.
What are your thoughts?