Monday, October 22, 2007

Reputation - Both Corporate and Personal

It has been an interesting week - a few blog posts out there attacking others, a nice article on online reputation that was syndicated from the Seattle Times, and a phone call via Facebook asking me about ... defending your reputation because of blogs.

Let's start at the attacks - famously on TechCrunch some guy named Ronald is using Justin.tv's software to lifecast his ... well, so-called life. That's fine. I've worn the hat, I've done the Jeremy.tv shtick with Justin's hat ... and while I would not do it fulltime, I can appreciate the performance art aspect of it, and think Justin's done a great job with the shtick.


Jeremy Pepper.tv
Originally uploaded by b_d_solis.

Ronald, though, got into a little (forced) tiff at the movie theater. He wanted to wear his cap and lifecast from the movies ... and boy, wouldn't the MPAA love that. He tried to explain what lifecasting is - and, since I've seen Justin explain it, I do know that it's sometimes a trick to people. When Bryanna politely told Ronald no ... he called her a bitch.

Fine. I look at it as typical Detroit self-esteem issues (I know, I was born in that former city). It's his right to call her a bitch and be unhappy with her treatment of him and his art ... but what was the purpose of using Bryanna's full name? To Google Juice her so that the first thing that comes up is someone calling her a fucking bitch? Um, great.

And, well, it shows a lack of honesty and respect to the "practice" of lifecasting. Anyone that blogs knows that if you have a big enough audience, and use a not "internet famous" person's name ... you will own that name on Google. It just shows a lack of respect or humanity ... but what about Bryanna now? Her name is fully linked to that video, and unless she begins blogging or uses a system like ReputationDefender ... her name will forever be attached to that While Ronald is going to apologize to her (hey, it's another chance to do a video!), is that going to show up in Google as well? There is a certain bit of responsibility social media has ... and instances like this show a lack of understanding of the esprit de corps of social media. Game over because a simple lack of respect or humanity has not hurt someone else's online reputation.

Now, here's a flip side. You're a young, brash blogger and you're taking on the world! You're young, you're hip ... you're the cat's meow. And, all these social media PR people - quite a few that have earned their stripes because of projects that they have done, and clients they have worked on - well, they're old farts that can never understand social media like the young buck you are because you're that MySpace / Facebook generation.

No, serious. Read about it on David Parmet's blog - and love well, the attitude.

And, that's fine. I love a little bit of 'tude as much as the next person. But, when you are representing a wire service - oh, like Marketwire - does it really behoove you (or the company) to insult and alienate a large group of PR practitioners? You know, I am in the market for a wire service right now, and I have my choices of PR Newswire, Businesswire and PR Web ... but Marketwire is not on that list.

Yes, here's an example of one person's action resulting in potentially hurting the employer; we can write this off as the impetuousness of youth. We can also point to a fun PC Magazine example ... and write that off as a naked emperor incident. Either way, though, the action of employees hurts the corporate parent. Those are just two quickie examples, but the bloggers can (and likely will) steal Google Juice that should be going to the original source. What can corporations do to protect themselves? Well, simple social media and blogging policies should help ... but not necessarily do enough. Employees can co-opt a corporations identity and brand, and make it their own. And, while that might sound nice in a social media aspect, we should rather have our brands co-opted by our customers, not the employees.

But, at the end of the day - it is about your own reputation. What do you do if you are a high-level employee at a corporation, and when you leave, the message trolls come out and come attacking? Soon, those results are the top results for your name.

Or, on another, more basic level - it does not even have to be leaving a job or starting a new job - schools are so wired, and people are so networked through networks like Facebook and MySpace, Facebook is searchable via Google (unless you opted-out, which I did) that your reputation is formed both through your own content and what others think of you ... and knowing human nature, that's not necessarily a good thing.

Photo by Brian Solis

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