How to Manage an Online Reputation Crisis

December 21, 2023    •    4 min read

An online reputation crisis can be defined as a situation where an individual or business faces a significant and often damaging shift in how they are perceived online. Whether through negative reviews, malicious rumors, or false information, these crises have the power to tarnish reputations and lead to serious consequences. The significance of managing your online reputation cannot be overstated, especially considering the potential risks posed by defamation, and this is especially true in crises.  

The impact of an online reputation crisis extends beyond personal grievances, directly influencing both personal and professional opportunities. Individuals, whether private or public figures, may find their careers jeopardized or personal lives disrupted due to the relentless spread of damaging information online. However, should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of an online reputation crisis, Buckingham is here to help. 

Here are reputation management tips, actions to take, and precautions to consider for both personal and business reputation crises.

Monitoring and Early Detection

Regularly checking online platforms for mentions and leveraging advanced monitoring tools and alerts has become a cornerstone in safeguarding one’s reputation. The internet’s fast-paced nature allows information, whether accurate or not, to spread rapidly, making timely detection of potential threats crucial. 

By adopting a proactive stance, individuals and businesses can swiftly identify emerging issues, address concerns, and even pre-emptively counteract false narratives before they gain traction. Proactive monitoring not only acts as a preemptive defense against reputational threats but also allows for strategic, well-informed responses, demonstrating a commitment to transparency and responsiveness that can significantly mitigate the impact of potential crises. 

Here’s what you can to do catch early signs:

  • Claim all of your social media and online review profiles and set up notifications
  • Google your name or business name and analyze search results
  • Search specific hashtags on social media, such as #yourbusinessname
  • Check for imposter accounts on Instagram, Facebook, etc.
  • Develop an online reputation management strategy
  • Regularly monitor reviews across social media
Woman holds a dark pen and writes in a light colored notebook near a laptop computer.

How to Recognize Potential Reputation Threats

Recognizing potential reputation threats requires a keen eye and a strategic approach to your online presence. First and foremost, regularly monitoring various online platforms for mentions, reviews, and discussions about your or your business is essential. As noted above, utilizing specialized monitoring tools and setting up alerts can streamline this process, providing real-time notifications about emerging issues. Beyond quantitative metrics, paying attention to the sentiment and tone of online conversations is crucial, as subtle shifts in public opinion can signify looming reputation threats. It’s also worth assessing the credibility of sources making accusations/defamation-like statements.

Additionally, staying informed about industry trends, potential controversies, or changes in public perception is key to identifying preemptive signals. By actively engaging in the digital landscape, individuals and businesses can proactively recognize potential threats to their reputation, allowing for timely intervention and strategic response with the help of an experienced defamation attorney.

Swift and Transparent Response

In a time of crisis, carefully crafted – yet swift – responses are essential. Rather than allowing in-the-moment feelings and emotions to get the best of initial reactions, take a moment to craft a thoughtful, strategic approach to handling the crisis at hand.

In the case of negative reviews or slander, you’ll encounter the delicate balance of engagement. Acknowledging the issue at hand and expressing a genuine commitment to resolving concerns not only demonstrates accountability but also reassures stakeholders of a proactive approach. 

Transparency in communication is just as important, as openly addressing concerns without evasion builds trust and credibility. As highlighted in “How to Remove News Articles from Sites,” providing accurate information to counter false narratives is an essential component of a transparent response strategy.

It may also be worth turning to Andrew Stebbins or Christina Willians of Buckingham’s defamation team, or a PR management team for additional support, depending on the severity of the claims at hand.

How to Build a Positive Online Presence

Building a positive online presence involves crafting authentic and engaging content that reflects your values and expertise. Actively participating in online communities, maintaining a consistent tone, and responding thoughtfully to audience interactions contribute to presenting and maintaining a friendly, trusted, and respected online image. Here are some thought starters:

  • Strengthen existing positive content. This may include responding to positive reviews, promoting positive customer testimonials, etc.
  • Create and promote favorable content. For businesses, this may include shouting out customers, positive reviews, special sales and promotions, recent awards, etc.
  • Engaging with the online community. Take part in online discussions, support other local businesses, promote neighborhood businesses, and find ways to acknowledge community involvement. 
A young woman with her hair tied in a bun holds her hands to her face in a stressful moment.

Learning and Prevention Strategies

While no one looks forward to the aftermath of a reputation crisis, there’s always a thing or two to learn from the experience. Identifying takeaways and developing a strategy to protect one’s reputation from future events may include the following:

  1. Conducting a comprehensive post-mortem analysis to identify root causes and vulnerabilities. 
  2. Develop prevention strategies that include regularly monitoring online platforms, social media accounts, reviews, forums, and utilizing tools to swiftly detect potential threats.
  3. Implement proactive communication measures, such as addressing concerns transparently and countering misinformation with accurate information.
  4. For large corporations or notable figures, working with a public relations team can add additional support to help suppress any future crisis.

Remember, prevention is key, but should a reputation crisis arise, consider reaching out to the defamation experts of Buckingham for legal assistance in safeguarding your online reputation.

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Andrew Stebbins

Partner | Cleveland

[email protected] 216.736.4233

Christina Williams

Associate | Cleveland

[email protected] 216-736-4234


Our attorneys will provide a collaborative, thoughtful approach to your legal needs. We look forward to connecting with you.