Building a Brand Online – Pubcon 2007


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Like Mary indicated previously, Content was King at Pubcon this year. That applies when you’re building your brand online. The more pages you can rank in top positions for your Brand Name, the harder it will be for negative comments to infiltrate and cast doubt.

Negative publicity was embraced as an opportunity – more than a crisis. How do you handle your negative publicity? Do you take the opportunity to show your customer service by interacting with that disgruntled customer/guest? You look better to a prospective booker if you’ve handled any problems that have arisen professionally and fairly – turn that negative press into an opportunity to convert future shoppers.

Matt Tuens of Content Kings Media Group had a great point – which basically boiled down to “Don’t Debate the facts – CARE about your customers.” He also indicated that building content behind your brand will:

  • Extend Exposure
  • Deliver Customers
  • Deliver the Message.

Communicate your message to develop real estate in the SERPS and maximize impact.

Lauren Vaccarello from Forex Capital Markets spoke about Defending yourself against negative press. I found some really great takeaways from this presentation:

  • Respond to Negative Publicity IMMEDIATELY
  • Build a community not just a website
  • Combat negative press with a single authoritative voice (CEO, VP, General Manager)
  • Dont get sucked into a debate
  • Empowering your loyalists and partners to help you out (affiliates, partners, area chambers, etc.)

Tony Wright from Wright IMC used the “Brand Management is War” angle to great effect. Tony was in charge of PR for AmericanAirlines during 9/11 – the one scenario they didnt have in their playbook was a terrorist attack – but being prepared for many other scenarios did help them get the ball rolling afterwards.

Know your Battlefields

  • Monitor sites where negative comments might come up such as Tripadvisor, your own blog, area chamber sites, etc.

Avoid War at all Costs

  • Practice good Customer Service
  • Be conscious of the relationships you have with partners or ex-employees
  • Admit you’re wrong

Train Soldiers

  • Have a Reputation Management plan in place to combat any negative publicity IMMEDIATELY
  • Tell all of your employees what is going on so they’re not blindsided about questions regarding the issue
  • Practice – prepare yourself and your staff for the fact that something will happen eventually.

Know your Friends & Enemies

  • Monitor ex-employees and ex-partners
  • Watch your customers and be ready to respond
  • Avoid confrontation at all costs – have a conversation – not an argument.

So – how does all of this apply to the travel industry? Many of our clients are concerned about review sites like and the implications a negative review can have. Taking action against negative reviews is key to combating the publicity. OWNING your brand in the online space (i.e. having great search engine results rankings and owning all of page 1 for your brand name) is key to keeping unfavorables away from a potential guests eyes. YOu’re not always going to be able to quash the negative, so have a plan in place to combat and alleviate concern should a negative review pop up. One word comes to mind when I consider the steps involved- BLOG! If you dont alreayd have a blog on your website, consider adding one to make sure you’re ready to respond and add content to your site at a moment’s notice.

Be prepared is the Boy Scout’s motto – and it should be yours too. Have a plan of action should someone post a negative review or comment somewhere – be ready to have an authoritative voice respond immediately and don’t dissolve your discussion into an argument or mudslinging – is it really worth it? Making the customer happy immediately will have returns far into the future.

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