Who’s watching your company’s online reputation? Probably nobody. Who can post unsubstantiated complaints and untrue criticisms of your company? Almost anyone.

There may be dozens of online criticisms and comments about your business and you may not know they exist.
This isn’t an area we’ve spent a lot of time analyzing. I remember three or four years ago doing research on a story and discovering a web site dedicated to consumer complaints. The two categories that seemed to draw the most ire from the general public at that time were airlines and furniture stores.

Some observers feel that reputation risk could be a bigger problem for businesses than regulatory risks, market risk, even physical security.

This issue is regularly discussed by Turner Harriot on his site, www.reputationsquawkbox.com.

Harriot also looks at some of the higher profile “complaint sites” (I can’t think of a better way to describe them).
I looked at one of the most aggressive, www.ripoffreport.com, and entered “cabinets.” A total of 130 specific items turned up.

On Harriot's site, he discusses ways to avoid a reputation crisis, getting the reputation you want, and whether to use an outside firm to help with your company’s reputation.

Harriot suggests that companies don’t treat employees or customers poorly, don’t join in an angry online argument, and don’t pretend that the negative damage didn’t happen. You can’t bury your head in the virtual sand. And sometimes you have to turn the other virtual cheek -- an online rebuttal may not repair the damage.

In addition, he looks at companies that claim to provide services that deal with reputation risk. Here, there are some individuals that aren’t delivering what they’re promising. It’s almost as bad as airlines and furniture stores.

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