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Online Reputation Management Guide for the 2013 Elections

Online Reputation Management Guide for the 2013 Elections

The internet can either make or break a politician’s reputation. It can transform a simple politician into an influential personality, as well as turn a great politician to a shameless member of the society.

Thus, it is always recommended for a politician to monitor all the things that the internet is saying about him. From time to time, he should go online and use internet tools to learn about news stories, blog posts, photographs and videos uploaded to the internet that may mention his name.

On the internet, stories can either be factual or pure hearsays. Some internet users express how great a politician is, after a memorable first-hand experience with him. Others whose mission on earth is to break someone’s reputation can just publish malicious gossips and baseless accusations just to taint a politician’s integrity.

Reputation is almost everything. Politicians whose reputation has been broken end up losing during elections. The voting public does not trust a politician whose status is not good, whether the bases are true or not.

Online Reputation: Old VS New
In the good old days, reputation can be built in two ways.

A.   First, politicians depended on the words of their relatives in different areas. They tried to call their relatives so their relatives can help in campaigning. Their relatives were the precious gems in politics then. Thus, politicians from big families claimed victory in elections due to their family members.

However, the voting public realized that not all relatives are worth-recommending, and politicians should not be voted just because of blood relationship. The voting public became wiser, forgot about nepotism and stood by the political belief that a politician should be trusted basing on his credentials and not on genealogical connections.

B.    Second, politicians depended on traditional media. The traditional media consists of the print (newspaper, magazine, billboard etc) and broadcast media (TV, radio). Advertising on newspapers and TV shows was a very expensive method during elections. A 30-seconder on a national TV channel can cost half a million for a month. Public relations men working for politicians went on begging for media firms to publish stories that would favor their politician clients. It was a very tough game.

Now, the game has become easier.

The voting public became more and more intellectual. They found commercials or advertisements on TV and radio pure marketing foolishness. They learned about advertising as a technique to fool the voting public. The voting public always identified politicians with national TV ad placements as rich people.

After quite some time, the internet was born. The internet became a big blessing to everyone. Politicians and ordinary people are free to exploit it for their needs.  The internet is for everyone- for a one year old child who knows how to hold the mouse, for a 17 year old high school listening to rap music, for a 120-year old grandmother who loves chatting with her friends in the other part of the world.

The internet is an excellent:

A.   Communication tool: People chat on the internet and tell stories about politicians and friends with their loved ones

B.    Source of information: People use search engines to know more about a politician, a private person, an event, a place etc. The internet is an ultimate genius.

Compared to the old media, the internet is the most convenient. Anyone can just log into their computer and learn about the latest news about his favorite politician. Anyone can just access a site that provides leaked documents that may put a politician to risk. Unlike the traditional media, people needed to wait for the next issue of a newspaper or magazine before they could learn about the latest events in the lives of politicians. The internet does not sleep to serve everyone.

Reality Check: Google a Name

When a politician formally and finally declares his interest in running for an elective position, the voting public has no other thing to do but to go online. The voting public surely logs in to any search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing, and enters the name of the politician in to the search bar.

The voting public does not look for newspapers or magazines that feature a certain politician. The public does not watch TV to wait for the airing of interviews of a politician. The internet is there 24/7 to give what the voting public demands for.

Online reputation is about the status of a politician on the internet. It can be measured by getting the initial search results when a name of a politician is keyed in to a search engine bar.

The first two pages of the results are very important. An online user who is curious about a politician bases his judgment on what he sees in the search results. If the results say positive things about the politician, it is well and good.  On the other hand if the results are saying bad things about a politician or nothing at all (whether these are true or not), the politician’s reputation is dead.

Who Cares About Online Reputation

As stated above, anyone who is interested in knowing a politician further depends on the internet for the looked-for information. These are the people who always use the internet to know what the world thinks about a specific politician. 

A.   Journalists and political bloggers. All journalists and bloggers who want to talk about a politician go online to know essential info about a politician before they could conduct interviews.

B.    Students and teachers. In the academe, the future managers of the country make sure they know who their leaders are. They use the internet to dig up background info of their seniors and leaders.

C.   Business partners and political allies. The internet is the easiest tool to use when doing a background check. They use search engines to know what the public thinks of their partner or ally. They do not just depend on testimonials; they also check online reputation. They never ask someone to compile news clippings that feature a politician. Everything is on the internet.

D.   Enemies. The internet is a junction of all the information. Books are scanned and now available online. Print newspapers and magazines are published on the internet also. Radios and TV channels go live on the internet. Thus, politicians have all the means to peep into the online image of their rival. They can also use the internet to spread malicious stories that will ruin the reputation of their rivals.

Online Information Needed and Provided

Everything on the internet is a surprise. A politician may be shocked to know that a certain website has talked about his physical characteristics or his great thoughts. Thus, a politician must be alert when he spots his name on a forum or a social networking site account. He must know if online users are praising him or degrading his name unfairly.

A.   Physical characteristics. Truly, people use the internet to check how a politician looks like. Even though they know much about a politician, they still look for uploaded images of the politician on the internet.

B.    Public lifestyle. News sites contain reports that either make or break a politician. News sites discuss scandals, controversies and good news about a politician. These feature projects, investigate transactions and criticize insights. People love reading reports about the leadership performance of a politician.

C.   Family and personal status. When people are interested in the family status of a politician, they hit the internet. They want to know if a politician is still single or married. They want to know if the politician is from a rich family or not. The internet has all the extra information not found in formal publications.

D.   Unexpected photos and videos. Sometimes, there are shocking documents and records that can either advance or degrade the name of a politician. These are obtained by hackers and irresponsible technologists. People love interesting contents- whether the materials are true or fabricated.

E.    Membership and connections. The internet provides info about the former employment and achievements of a politician. People use the internet to check if a politician has performed well during the ordinary days.

How Enemies Can Use the Internet

Enemies remain enemies. They make use of the free internet to break trust. In the past elections, black propaganda hit the internet, creating confusions and unpleasant incidents. Using the internet for black propaganda is a depressed and sick man’s tool to win in an election.

A.   Enemies ask bloggers to give bad reviews of a politician, in return of money or favor. This is true. Online journalists have the freedom to write about damaging articles against a politician they do not like.

B.    Enemies ask their followers on social networking sites to post baseless and negative messages about a politician. Enemies use other people for their interest.

C.   Enemies make use of anonymous accounts and spread totally wrong information about a politician. They may be coward, but they can win an election by being one.

D.   Enemies pay hackers to hack into a politicians account and get confidential information. They leak critical data to become more superior in the campaign.

E.    Enemies look for embarrassing pictures and videos of a politician and spread these web contents on the internet. This is one of the most common problems online.

F.    Enemies ask former employees or companions of a politician to testify against the politician online.

G.   Enemies make parody accounts of a politician and act as the politician. They spread malicious stories, and the politician will be wrongly accused of spreading unjustified stories.
No one lives with no enemies. Everyone has his enemy and haters. However, in online reputation, having enemies is almost the same with having super low online popularity. When a politician keys in his name in to the search bar and there are no results, the effect is also as worse as having tens of enemies online.

When people learn that a politician cannot be found in online search results, they become confused. It has been programmed that politicians should be famous in any side of the world, may it be online or not. They end up confused and in doubt of the credibility of the politician.

Monitoring the internet is the solution to make sure that the internet is a friend to a politician. Monitoring deals with the checking of different internet sites to look for mentions.

A.   Social networking sites: Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Twitter

B.    Blog Sites: Mashable, Technorati, 9gag

C.   News Sites: BBC, CNN, ABS-CBN, Al Jazeera, PDI, GMA online

D.   Forums : Yahoo Ask, Exchange

E.    Wikis/References: Wikipedia, Public ProfilePage

F.    Directory Sites: Amazines, Ezine

G.   Corporate/Government Sites: PIA, SM, SLU

H.   Porn sites: Adult Friend Finder, My Asian Affair

Online reputation management’s major functions are two:

a.    Monitor online posts and mention on different websites

b.    Maintain positive or favorable search results

To help a politician with online reputation management, it is advisable to hire a set of people who will do the above mentioned tasks. Online reputation managers do smart strategies to use the internet for the career advancement of a politician.

For more information, please contact me at christianaligonow@gmail.com. Let us boost your political ambition and use the very free internet to win in the 2013 elections.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.

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