Online reputation management

Despite an economic slowdown, the rout of its stock markets, a plunge in exports, and a crackdown on free speech and the media under Xi Jinping, China remains a huge opportunity for local and foreign companies alike.

It also presents its fair share of challenges, not least rapidly evolving consumer and stakeholder expectations, demands and behaviours, and a cut-throat, dog eat dog business environment typified by murky, closed-door government decision-making, high employee churn and widespread disregard for others’ IP.

And while the internet, mobile and social media are powerful tools to raise awareness, connect and drive sales and loyalty, they are also highly demanding and unpredictable platforms for competitors, customers and others to attack you, something that is done with real relish in China.

How big a problem online attacks are in China, what form they take, and how they should be handled is the subject of an in-depth Forbes interview with yours truly.

I hope it sheds some light on China’s idiosyncratic internet culture and how it can best be tackled.

With MH370, MH17 and now QX8501, food safety and health scares in China, ongoing supply chain issues, hacks aplenty, popular protests in Taiwan and Hong Kong and terrorist attacks in Australia and China, it has been a busy year for public relations and crisis communications professionals across Asia.

Here are the most popular articles published to this blog over the past twelve months.

1. Malaysia Airlines, MH370 and social media crisis communications
2. Change communications and social media
3. Safeguarding corporate reputation in social media
4. Why your online reputation is not your reputation
5. Customers at the core? McDonald’s messes up its crisis messages
6. Crisis communications in Malaysia
7. How to handle online defamation
8. Assessing the Hong Kong government’s communications during Occupy Central
9. Asia’s most reputable companies
10. What’s the right social media strategy?

With traffic to the blog up 35% over 2013, I’m encouraged to keep plugging away on these topics.

If you’ve any suggestions, I am all ears.

Best wishes for a smooth and prosperous 2015!


The fact that anyone can turn to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to post a negative review of a hairdresser, plumber or politician, indeed to denigrate whatever or whoever they choose, in the heat of the moment or otherwise, has resulted in defamation being employed increasingly regularly as a legal tool.

Yet the nature of social media means, like it or not, that the resolution process is also increasingly likely to be played out in public view.

In such instances, legal and communications teams must work closely together.

A prominent London-based media and defamation lawyer with whom I met recently advises the following broad principles for dealing with online defamation:

  • Balance the legal and reputational aspects of defamation carefully from the get-go
  • Negotiate a reasonable solution where possible and deploy litigation only as the final solution
  • When an issue is legally black and white, move fast to limit the potential for the falsehood to escalate
  • Make sure to use language that is user-friendly rather than overtly legalistic in all instances.

This is music to the ears of communicators, who are often left to deal with the reputational impact of legal strong-arming.

The principles above are laid out in an article I have penned for PR Week Asia.


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