Public opinion is the opinion of a population that can be used to help sway government decisions and to inform the media. However, it is also very useful for businesses insofar as it means they can see how the general public view their brand. This is key for good PR.
Public opinion is a term that describes the opinion of the general public. This could mean a population of a specific area or country, it could mean a specific target demographic for a business, or it might mean the entire population of a country.
The term public opinion is relevant to businesses, in as far as it pertains to the opinion that the public holds of that brand. Marketing is not just a matter of brand visibility – of getting people to recognize a business logo and to associate that brand with a particular product. Public opinion is rather also all about the brand’s reputation and the opinion that the public holds about that business.
The old saying is that there is ‘no such thing as bad press’. This is not entirely true however; particularly for a company that requires the trust of its audience. Would you buy from a company that you know to be morally irresponsible when the competition has a much better reputation?
Would you trust a company that has lots of bad reviews to sell you a health product? Or to manage your finances? In these cases, it is crucial that a company consider the public opinion as well as the brand awareness. This is where techniques such as online reputation management can come in very handy.
Online reputation management or 'ORM' involves a number of different techniques and tasks all in the service of ensuring your business is seen in the most positive light possible. The best techniques for your business are going to depend largely on a range of other factors – such as the nature of your business and your current online reputation. Here we will look at a variety of different options so that you can get an idea for how best to proceed with managing and sculpting the way your business is seen online…
Various different tools exist online that allow you to 'monitor' mentions. What this means is, that if someone writes something about you on Reddit or on Twitter, you can then go ahead and respond in order to say you're sorry and to explain how you're going to try and be better in future.
For example then, if you were selling computer parts and you had a testimonial from Bill Gates, that could go a long way to improving your reputation. The best testimonials are the ones that come from bloggers and social media users who have a large reach ('clout') and who can spread the word to all their followers and readers.
SEO is Search Engine Optimization and it can be used to control what shows up at the top of Google for particular search terms. If searching for your business brings up a negative review as the number one result, then you will need to do some SEO in order to bring your own site above that review.
Sometimes a company's reputation will be too far gone and the mere mention of that organization can have negative connotations. In such cases, it may often be better to have a rebrand and change both your name, your logo and your website for the better.
ORM isn't just about finding negative feedback and squashing it. Just as important is to look at what people are saying and to take it on board. Negative criticism doesn't help your business in the short term but if you learn from it then you can use it as market research – something you can often pay a lot of money for!
So yes, it’s normal for even the best companies to get bad reviews. Rather than seeing this as an attack on your business then, it is useful to consider the potential benefit that can come from constructive criticism.
At the same time, you should also answer those reviews, and this is where you can help to prevent a small gripe from turning into a big PR disaster. If you are seen to answer reviews and comments in a positive and helpful manner - if you are seen to help people with their issues – then this can help a great deal.
A company can also improve its reputation by creating positive associations with other brands and organizations. For instance, if you sponsor a charity or take part in a joint venture with a company that is well loved, then some of the positive feeling toward that business can ‘spill over’’ to your brand as well and this can be a very positive thing.
As well as knowing how to respond to criticism and how to change the public opinion, it’s also important that you are able to get the public opinion in the first place. This won’t only help you to deal with reputation management, but it can also help you to market yourself better.
Sometimes there is a gulf between the way that management views a business and the way that the brand is viewed by the general public. This can result in ineffective marketing and make the company look out of touch.
So how do you get the public opinion? Surveying customers can be one tool but it’s important to recognize here that these are skewed results because those are people that have chosen to use your business.