Pandemic and the surge of online reputation management

Life has never been as uncertain as it has been for humanity in the last year or so. Pandemic has shown its real effects, which extended beyond the impact on public health, a normal for any virus. People have not only faced the loss of life, but also have had to suffer on livelihood, work, relationships, and emotional fronts in more than many ways. For many survival became the key objective of living and for some accumulation of wealth and greed, became a chosen path.

All of sudden we found that newspapers have stopped hitting our doors and that daily dose of news, views, opinions, ideas, and gossips of course have vanished from our lives. Cutting down our direct social interaction of verbal exchanges, discussions, chatters, babblings, and confining us into our homes has made a significant impact on every mode of media and communication that would otherwise shape our perceptions and change our preferences about things, people, and everything around us relentlessly.

Limiting the social interactions to online mode has drastically impacted businesses and their entire value chain, which went through a complex situation, unheard of before. It was a disruption, that most weren’t ready for. Disruptions often happen drastically, unexpectedly, unpredictably, and never inconspicuously or unassumingly. With traditional sales communication channels having been nearly shut, online was the only explorable option for ensuring customer outreach. 

Mobile phones proved to be a window of opportunity for the most as they offered an instant reach that was somewhat interactive and engaging too, thereby creating an instant need for increasing the online reputation management for almost all businesses. Checking out online reviews, watching online trends, exploring critical feedbacks, and reading up before making a purchase decision soon became a new normal even for the lesser tech-savvy ones.

In the normal situation, most marketers would still be wary of regularly increasing focus towards the online side, the ‘established and proven methods’ of managing reputation in traditional ways would restrict them to take any risk in accepting disruptive strategies of communication. But the pandemic changed it all.

It’s always been about creating and nurturing meaningful relationships and brands have to constantly work towards this. The online world offers a vista of opportunities to network and use the power of the network to escalate connections and keep building an online reputation.

Almost all popular social media mammoths have upgraded and enhanced their capabilities to deliver better connectivity, enabling a larger audience to engage with the content offered on these platforms. Speaking directly to the audience via various online channels also became a new normal for many businesses, where they reached out to various well-defined audience sets in a regular fashion.

It was an interesting point where the role of crowds in shaping opinions came to the fore. Crowd-sourced 3rd party reviews to know, learn, understand, and influence are now in the vogue. Genuine user-generated content took a big leap and several businesses not only started supporting and encouraging them but also integrating them into their marketing and communication plans.

While webinars and meetings through online video conferencing apps have become a part of our daily lives, a drastic increase in the use of podcasts was reported. Again, the cascading effect of the network comes into the picture, which helps amplify any message through the connections of connections. It was storytelling that found a great new channel through podcasts, dealing with specific target audiences that were well-defined and well-articulated. Podcasts were probably a discovery for many just as they rediscovered the so-called virtual mode of interaction, while they all have been around for quite some time already. 

What however mattered most was that now marketers and brand communicators have realised and started exploring the potential of the online environment in a more disruptive and highly-effective manner if compared with pre-Covid times and that must continue even if the virus fades away from our lives! 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Praveen Nagda
Praveen Nagda is the CEO of Peregrine Public Relations, a full-service corporate communications and public relations consultancy firm delivering a pan-India reach to its clients. He also heads White Coffee, an independent events & celebrity engagement company.

Praveen has been closely associated with many national and international events related to cinema for children, art and culture. He has a well-rounded experience that cuts across all key sectors of PR & Corporate Communications.

He started his career with URJA Communications, an advertising agency specialising in technology brands, where he was instrumental in developing the PR division. Post this, he had a stint with Horizons Porter Novelli, a global public relations consultancy. Thereafter, he was heading the IT & Telecom division at Clea PR, a leading Indian public relations and communications company followed by a fairly long stint with Omnicom Group agencies viz. TBWA\India and Brodeur India.

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