Crowdsourcing II :: DOs and DONTs of Online Reputation Managment

Christi Eubanks, of my PRception, asks me and dozens of PR educators and practitioners to share our “top 3 DOs and DON’Ts for personal online reputation management.”

That’s a good question. We talk about it in class from time to time.  Jeremy Pepper just wrote an interesting post on this very topic – Reputation – Both Corporate and Personal –  at Pop PR!

That’s also a tough question. Only three? I’m going for three of each. 🙂 I’ve seen some of the other answers, so I’ll try to hit some areas maybe not covered there, yet key beginner first steps to online reputation management. You may post your comments here, but really … the best thing (I believe) would be to post in your blog and ping Christi of my PRception.


  1. Do be true to yourself, your friends, your colleagues, your stakeholders, your organization/business and to whatever dogma (the good ones, of course) that you may follow. Track the reputation you’ve already developed, and will enhance with future deeds, online in every search engine known to humankind to be certain you remain true to those people and institutions you cherish, as well as your own beliefs.
  2. Do be confident in your opinions and stick to your principles. Still, be willing to concede when you are wrong. Humbly confess your wrongs and be willing to accept the consequences of those wrongs. People forgive. They really do. And, be willing to tell your boss, “No, I won’t post that” and be willing to walk away. (That’s a tough one, I’ll admit.) Finally, all problems can likely be avoided if you’ll just follow number three…
  3. Do pay heed to the ultimate online rule: Think before you hit Publish – always. Walk away for a day, if you need to. There is no need to rush when it could come back to haunt you. Remember, patience is a virtue.


  1. Don’t write anything online that you wouldn’t be proud to show to your parents. Exception? If your last name is Manson and your parents’ first names are either Marilyn or Charles.
  2. Don’t post any compromising photos or videos of yourself online. Check that, don’t even make those things, or allow anyone else to, either. Once they are out there, they spread like a virus and can be found everywhere, by anyone – even in supposedly private and safe sites. If you doubt this, and go ahead anyway, you likely deserve to be caught.
  3. Don’t, for a client, post anonymously, create flogs, create aggregator blogs or use any other black hat tactic to make your main site look better (or busy). In fact, don’t even attempt any transgression that creates a false appearance or impression. It is likely inevitable that it will be found out, and then you got some ‘splainin to do (before you pack up your desk with security hovering nearby).

As an addendum to all of those, I would remind you that any transgressions (especially those outed by others, not you) – once online – make the half life of plutonium (roughly 24,000 years) look like a coffee break. It will be out there, and following you, where ever you may go.

So, I’m going to ping the same people Christi did in her post – then ping a few more. As Christi asks, what do you good people think about a “Best Rules of Online Repuation Management?” Some of them have written on the topic for this very meme, and others have addressed it before. But, have their ideas changed?

Richard Bailey, Philip Young, Karen Russell, Bill Sledzik, Kaye Sweetser, Heather Yaxley, Les Potter, David Phillips, Christine Smith, Kelli Matthews, Ross Monaghan, Greg Smith, Tom Watson, Gary Schlee, Derek Hodge, Tim Penning, Walter Carl, Bob Batchelor, and the folks at Cac.ophony and anyone else reading (you don’t have to be an educator) discuss. Go.

Next, I’ll ping two of our newest student PR bloggers … from the U.K., of all places. They study with the very kind and smart Richard Bailey, a good guy if ever there was one.

The first new “Officially a blogger” student is Rebecca Armstrong, and she is “studying Public Relations at Leeds Metropolitan University” as well as blogging at – PR here, to all the way over there…. Next up, meet Paddy Doyle, also a student at Leeds Metropolitan. His blog has a great title, too. Check out Spoof or Truth. It is over at

So, my question to Rebecca and Paddy is, what are your “top 3 DOs and DON’Ts for personal online reputation management?” Please share and meet all of these other PR bloggers, too. I want to bring you into the conversations.

I’ll even ping all of my students, with the same question, to see if they find the post, too. If so, they can throw in their top three ideas.


0 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing II :: DOs and DONTs of Online Reputation Managment

  1. Christi Eubanks

    Rob, thank you for the good advice (as always 😉 ). Also for doing your absolute best to spread the word about the topic — I think you’ve pinged half the blogosphere.

    You can tell the students that I’m really looking forward to reading their insights and mentioning them at podcamp. Just tell them to hurry! The presentation is only 3 days away.

  2. Alice Marshall

    Well said. What about that poor slob who has been an idiot? What is the best approach for those who posted anonymously who got caught? Or posted that party picture that seemed like such a good idea at the time?

    What is the best approach to online reputation repair?

  3. Robert

    Well, I thought I posted a reply to this earlier today. Seems like dummy me closed the browser when I was interrupted by the phone. Sorry ’bout that.

    Christi: Thank you. I hope they do post, but they are kinda swamped with projects right now. Let’s hope for the best. I fear pinging anymore people as I’ll be told to stop and go away.

    Alice: Thank you. As always, a pleasure when you stop by to say hello.

    Now, about those poor goobers that just don’t know when to stop, I doubt there is any hope for them.

    Really, to me, the only hope for someone that has really goofed up is to try to make sincere amends with full apologies and admissions. No caveats need be offered. They actually look like excuses. Simply (a) fess up and (b) offer a sincere and humble apology.

    Now, for those that transgress with a photo or video, seek out the only possible options. If it is in Facebook or MySpace, for example. Take it down. If others posted it, ask them to take it down.

    Facebook does offer these options:

    On the other site, MySpace has an empty “Issues with images” page:

    Google offers this information on “Removing my content from the Google index”:

    This link offers similar information for content and images:

    Can’t find any related info at Yahoo, but imagine it is there somewhere.

    So, I would explore all options to remove the offending information whether you posted it, or some else did. The later seems to be much more difficult.

    How’s that for a starter?

  4. David Phillips

    Lol… so you are trying to put us on the spot. I have responded to Chriti’s blog and offer only one rule: Don’t be anti-social.

    In the social groups you need or want to be associated with – for all time – don’t be anti-social.

    We are, above all, human, a very special sort of social animal. Its part of human DNA. It applies online – don’t play the odds with human DNA.

    Perhaps there is one other rule which is to forgive transgression – we all transgress.

  5. Robert

    Hey David, 🙂

    No, not trying to put you on the spot … although, I’ll certainly admit it could look that way. I kinda’ went overboard on the backlinking. Just trying to help Christi.

    I read your comment there and agree, completely. Whether on or offline, the conversation and treatment should be civil. Sure, discussions can be pointed, but they don’t have to be mean spirited.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  6. Les Potter


    I am happy to find this excellent treatment of an important subject. Lead on!

    As a fellow educator in PR, I admire what you are doing with your students here.

    Les Potter
    Towson University, Maryland, USA

  7. Pingback: Reputation Management for Digital Natives :: Conclusions : my PRception

  8. Sebastian Davies

    Thanks alot for the comment. Enjoyed reading this blog, as online reputation is one thing im going to be keeping a very close eye on.

    No relation to the other Davies blogger though.

    Look forward to hearing from you in the future.


  9. Robert

    Hey Sebastian,

    Great to hear from you. Always enjoy getting to know students at other universities. We’re particularly fond of all of you at Leeds Met.

    Look forward to reading your blog, too.

    Take care.


  10. Greg Smith

    Another great, informative post. From recent personal/professional experience, I would add, that you should also “think twice” about the effects you can have/create. In my case, I pulled the material witnin two hours of it appearing. My motto for 2008 is now “shut up” (well, not entirely).

  11. paul

    I’ve just had some very party pictures sent to me by a friend – he’s asked me to post them on my site but I declined but when I explained that his reputation was at stake he realised why. Some things are best kept between friends!

  12. Pingback: What is your online reputation? « Online PR course blog

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