I talk to a lot of people about how to make sure that the Internet is filled with positive stories about their organizations.  Recently I was talking to a reporter who was writing a story about “Googlewashing,” which is a term I don’t like, because it implies that you are somehow removing negative stories from Google, and that’s simply impossible (just ask any celebrity who has ever tried to remove a sex tape from the Internet).

I was quoted in the story that the reporter ended up writing, and in my quote I outline exactly the same strategy that I advise to most clients:

  1. Don’t think in terms of concealing negative stories – think in terms of promoting and generating positive stories.
  2. Call the customers who are the most appreciative of you, and the ones you have the strongest connection to.  Tell them how they can tell their friends about you (writing online reviews, leaving comments on your Facebook wall, etc.)  These are activities that many of them will be more than happy to do for you.
  3. Write your own regular blog, at least two or three times a week, telling your story (this is easier than it sounds for most organizations, because if you’re providing a unique or high quality service, there are lots of stories you can tell).
  4. Have someone audit the quality of the code of your website and web properties (like your blog, for example) to make sure that everything you’re doing is search engine optimized.
If you do all of these things, you should be getting three or four positive customer reviews every week or month, and you’ll make sure that if there’s ever a bad review, on day one you’ll already have positive reviews to balance things out.  No one expects that any business will have positive interactions with 100% of customers, and a handful of negative reviews can even serve to validate the fact that your customer reviews are uncensored and legitimate.  As long as most customers love you and are willing to talk about you, you don’t need to worry about the very rare negative review.  Certainly don’t spend any time attempting to discover some secret, non-existent method of “Googlewashing.”  That’s just time you’ll have wasted that you could’ve spent interacting with customers who might end up producing a genuine, positive writeup.
You can read the full news story here.  

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web 2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Read more about Will Marlow here, or email him at will@alumnifidelity.com.