With the 2014 general elections round the corner and allegations and counter-allegations flooding the internet, a vast segment of the political discussion is taking place online. With an alarmingly soaring rate of slander and cyber libel, politicians inevitably face the dangerous side of free speech. It is under these prevailing circumstances that look for a way to manage their online reputation, possibly with the help of proven professionals.
Interestingly, as long as there are political opponents, attacks will happen. Political journalism is often based on digging for dirt, so it hardly matters if it's not on page 1, 2 or 3 of Google results. Online newspapers running negative stories on a politician usually rank very well. It's an uphill SEO battle. So where does that leave a politician?
"When we accept the fact that stopping what we don't like is near to impossible, what becomes relevant to help a political body or single politician is extremely rapid intelligence and threat detection so that counter strategies can be put in early to spread the message correctly and manage the reaction to what happens online or offline," revealed David Miller, spokesperson for aReputation.
aReputation.co.uk, a UK-based ORM firm with a large clientele in India, is already working with a few politicians who are confronted with misrepresentation of facts.
More and more political entities are beginning to grasp the significance of ORM and companies like aReputation are suddenly in huge demand.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an assistant for an MP from Delhi revealed that a lot of negative vibes doing the rounds online has already hurt the reputation of the Member of Parliament and now it's a case of better late than never.
"We have employed the services of a leading US firm with an Indian presence and the results are showing already. The firm's content team has designed a dedicated blog that is regularly updated with press releases and the ideals and messages appear frequently. There is also a Wikipedia page now that reflects genuine background. It is also crucial to educating undecided or independent voters about the candidate," the MP assistant informed.
Techniques like SEO are also very crucial in ensuring that the search engine throws up desirable and authentic results.
Industry experts point out that politicians must employ search engine optimization techniques for their blogs and websites to rank well. And the higher your own content appears in search results, the more people will visit your official site, blog, and other channels instead of seeing negative content.
Every politician today understand the need for a clean image and hence seek professional help. As one politician put it succinctly, "You are what search engines and social networks say you are. A bad online reputation can cost you the election."