The Role of Quality Copywriting in Reputation Management
October 27, 2011 • Glenn Murray
I don’t often publish guest posts on this blog, but when Alex Petrovic, of Dejan SEO, approached me with an idea to write about the role of quality copywriting in reputation management, I was intrigued. It’s not something I’ve been involved in, myself, so I was keen to hear his thoughts. I’m glad I made an exception, because I learned something! Hopefully you will too…
Over to Alex…
If you’re in reputation management and have to run a damage control campaign due to some bad press or vicious rumors, here’s the good news: Most people who try to create smear campaigns, who post negative product and service reviews, and so on, don’t do it professionally. They don’t know the first thing about SEO and strong copywriting.
Why is quality copywriting important in reputation management?
If you write a series of positive stories about your client, and make those stories ‘attractive’ to search engines, they’ll ‘drown out’ the negative stories. Google’s top results will be dominated by your stories, and the negative stories will be pushed to page two (or lower). The good stories will get more hits than the bad, and the bad press will quickly fizzle out.
Here’s an example of what copywriting in reputation management is all about: Let’s say a member of a company’s board of directors has been doing a wonderful job for years. He’s been maximizing profits and raising customer satisfaction. But some personal affairs have turned sour for him, and now his name is plastered all over everyone’s blog, as people spread the gossip. It becomes a hot search subject on Google and all of the top hits are pretty negative. The bad press is reflecting poorly on the client’s brand and impacting his bottom line.
The solution in this instance is simply to fight fire with fire: Critics are flooding the internet with negative reports, rumors and gossip about your client. You need to spread the good news about him, to point out his charity work, his impeccable personal history and so on.
But of course, you can’t just engage a traditional PR company to do this. Unless they’re SEO-savvy, they’ll merely address the mainstream/traditional media outlets. A few of those outlets may publish an online story, but that’s about as far as it will go. It’s a sad truth that positive stories don’t usually have the same viral appeal as negative stories, so they’re far less likely to be picked up naturally by bloggers.
So, you start with writers. You engage them to write a series of positive articles about your client – enough to outnumber the negative. High quality, well written articles, too; not just content-farm rubbish. You need them to appear on high ranking websites, respected blogs and so on, and that will only happen if the owners of those sites feel your stories make good reading.
Of course, that’s not to say they have to be long and comprehensive. Short, to the point writing is probably more effective in the blogging world. You’re aiming to chip away at the negativity a few hundred words at a time, so the bad press suffers a sort of ‘death by a thousand cuts’.
It may take a little while before you see the results, but the tide will change if you keep it up, because paid writers can stay interested in a subject for a lot longer than a gossip blogger can. They’re being paid to do it, they’re not just doing it for fun.
And remember, you don’t have to eliminate the bad press entirely. Just pushing the negative content to the second page is often enough.
Why you shouldn’t go for the cheapest copywriter
When it comes to hiring the writer for the job, you have a clear choice: Pay decent money for quality writing, or pay peanuts for rubbish. Don’t engage someone who charges a third of a cent a word. That works out at about $1 per article! It sounds tempting, especially when you require such high volume. But no writer in the English speaking world can live on that sort of rate. Not if they’re writing good quality, anyway. Even a short 200-300 word article can take an hour to write – often a lot longer. How many good writers do you think work for $1/hr? That’s $8/day! Even writers from non-English speaking countries can’t live on that. Instead, they pump out 5-10 articles per hour. Imagine the quality of 200-300 word article written in 6 minutes!
This isn’t copywriting, and it certainly isn’t going to reflect well on your client’s reputation. When it comes to reputation management, hiring bad copywriters can be disastrous, and not just because it produces results that don’t read very well.
When your writer isn’t a native English speaker, you magnify the potential for misunderstanding and meaning being lost in translation. If you’re not sure why that’s a problem, try playing with Google Translate and auto-translating a few phrases back and forth.
In fact, that’s what many of these cheaper so-called copywriting companies do: They write the original article in their own native language, then auto-translate it to English. Seriously!
Let’s take a simple phrase, a common message carried by reputation management campaigns:
“Our company’s leadership always has the consumer’s best interests in mind.”
Translated into Japanese and back to English using Babelfish, that phrase comes out as follows:
“Our company’s in the leadership of consumer. It is always the best profit of heart.”
Whatever that means, it sure isn’t the same as saying your client is taking care of his customers’ best interests. At best, you make your client look cheap. At worst, your articles say something ridiculous, offensive or illegal, and your client becomes the subject of yet more bad press.
Reputation is everything. In “The 48 Laws of Power,” author Robert Greene says, “Guard it with your life.” Truer words have never been spoken. When a client asks you to help manage their reputation, they want the very best help that they can get in presenting themselves to the public. A big part of making a good impression on the public is having the right words to do so. That’s what a skilled copywriter can provide: The right words.
Obviously if you don’t have a copywriter in-house, you’ll need to outsource, but that doesn’t mean choosing the cheapest option you can find. If there’s one truth in copywriting, it’s this: you get what you pay for. If you go for the cheapest writer available, you’re sacrificing quality in order to save a buck, which will always end in tears.
When hiring a writer or a team of writers to handle your copywriting, do yourself, your client, your career and, of course your, income a favor, and go the extra mile. Hire a skilled, qualified and experienced copywriter. They’ll do the job, quickly and without fuss, and your client’s reputation will soon be on the rise.