September 30, 2014 21:54 UTC

In the News

Paying Someone Else to Worry About Your Online Image

Negative online comments can harm a company's or individual's reputation.
Negative online comments can harm a company's or individual's reputation.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story


This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

A reputation -- what people think of you, good or bad -- is built one message at a time. The difference today is that people can get their messages out to lots of other people at lightning speed through websites and social media. So, not surprisingly, an industry is fast developing around managing online reputations for individuals and businesses.

KEN WISNEFSKI: “Up to eighty percent of people have been influenced in a purchasing decision by what they’ve read or seen online.”

Ken Wisnefski is chief executive of WebiMax, a company he started in two thousand eight. WebiMax is a search engine optimization, or SEO, company. Search engine optimization involves different ways to improve the results of online searches.

WebiMax offers several different services, but Ken Wisnefski says reputation management is growing the fastest.

Some of his customers need help with urgent publicity problems. Others are seeking long-term management of their online image. Mr. Wisnefski says about one-fifth of his business is with companies and individuals outside the United States.

How does reputation management work?

WebiMax has two sides to its business. The company can organize online publicity campaigns to try to limit the harm done by negative comments or bad news. Mr. Wisnefski says when a client gets in the news for the wrong reasons, his company does not try to hide what happened. Instead, it develops a campaign to show that the client is dealing with the problem in a productive and positive way, he says.

In that sense, the work seems a lot like old-fashioned public relations, but in cyberspace.

But what if clients are the target of lies or maybe an organized effort to harm their reputation? Then WebiMax would use its legal team to try to have the comments removed.

KEN WISNEFSKI: “We realized pretty early on that it wasn’t going to just be a marketing function, that there also needed to be a legal function involved with it. And marrying the two together is what really has impact and makes this successful.”

In the United States, not all speech is protected by the Constitution. And even if the comments are true, the threat of a costly legal fight may be enough to get them removed.

Ken Wisnefski thinks the legal side of reputation management is only going to grow. He says WebiMax is profitable and expects ten to fifteen million dollars in revenue this year.

Clients of companies that manage reputations can pay thousands of dollars a month or as little as a hundred dollars a year. But here is some free advice.

KEN WISNEFSKI: "If you’re not paying attention or at least monitoring what’s being said about you online, you’re making a mistake because other people are paying attention to that."

And that's the Economics Report in VOA Special English. You can read and listen to more business news online at voaspecialenglish.com.  I'm Mario Ritter.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar (R) and US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) sign documents as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (2R) and Afghanistan's new Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah (C)  look on at the Presidential Palace in

    Audio US Signs Security Agreement with Afghanistan

    US officials are calling the agreement, “an important step in strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries.” The signing comes just three months before U.S. and NATO forces are set to officially end military operations in the country. More

  • Carter Elections

    Photogallery Former US President Jimmy Carter Turns 90

    He won the Nobel Peace Prize and served as Georgia’s governor and as a Navy officer. Former peanut farmer, former nuclear engineer now works as a human rights activist. Liked and disliked around the world. He has written 26 books and is writing more. | As It Is More

  • Mercedes Garcia of El Salvador fills in the application for her new ?green card? while waiting in a predawn line outside the Immigration and Naturalization Service office on Wednesday, March 20, 1996 in Los Angeles. Wednesday was the deadline to apply for

    Audio US 'Green Card' Lottery Registration Begins

    The US government’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes 50,000 visas available every year. The program is designed for people from countries that have “historically low rates of immigration to the United States.” | As It Is More

  • Protesters block a street near government headquarters in Hong Kong September 30, 2014. Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters extended a blockade of Hong Kong streets on Tuesday, stockpiling supplies and erecting makeshift barricades ahead of what

    Video Hong Kong Protesters, Officials Dig In

    The Occupy Central protest group has said it will announce plans for the group’s next action on Wednesday if Hong Kong’s leader does not resign by October 1st. It also said the official, Leung Chun-ying, must meet demands for fair elections by that day. More

  • UN General Assembly Vietnam

    Audio Vietnam Calling for End to US Arms Ban

    Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh spoke last week in New York City during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly. | As It Is More

Featured Stories

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs