Top Ten Tips on How to Build a First-Rate Online Public Affairs Offering – Or At Least One that Doesn’t Suck

I have owed all of you some of that irascible, original thinking and BlogWorld Expo really got me thinking –it’s time to get off my ass and offer up some original thinking. BWE 09 was the spark that made me realize that I owe you guys some decent, hopefully useful, thinking.

Fret no more, my friends, for I am going to try to offer you my purported keys to the kingdom in terms of getting what we want — and what is right for just about any organization that gives a damn about their reputation.  GOOD ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT.  And I have said it until I am blue in the face, but the seeds of a company’s reputation are sown in the online environment and harvested in the offline world.  Sure, pitch the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal, but your chances of success are a lot higher in the online environment.

So what am I talking about?  I am composing an entire series of posts: “Top Ten Tips on How to Build a First-Rate Online Public Affairs Offering – Or At Least One that Doesn’t Suck.”  I will post the first one tomorrow, but expect upcoming posts that offer what I think are the keys to success in establishing, promoting or defending your company’s issues or reputation in the online environment.  And doing so within the corporate or agency environment.   So here goes, dear readers:

My Top Ten Tips:

  1. Hire the best minds you can, regardless of age – and pay them what they deserve.
  2. When you hire people, don’t bait the hook with “work-life balance” and then work people to death.  And if they do have to work monstrous hours, compensate them creatively.
  3. Give them the software, hardware and online tools to be successful.  Don’t ask people to fight with one hand tied behind their backs.
  4. Encourage intellectual curiosity in your staff.  Push reading and conferences so that their minds are fresh and challenged.
  5. When it comes to your client(s), select the right mix of tools that enables them to really — REALLY — monitoring the company/client’s online reputation.  This means print news, online news, trade pubs, blogs, Twitter, TV, radio and attack sites.  You must look at everything.
  6. When you are doing the monitoring, pick the right people to assess the opportunity or threat.  That means knowing that venues really matter, the potential viral nature of the information, and most importantly, how to calibrate your response to the threat or opportunity presented. And oh — they have to have an excellent understanding of the subject matter.  So junior staff here, folks.
  7. When you find a threat that is serious, use ALL of the tools at your disposal.  That could be full-blown Web sites, dark Web sites that can be activated quickly, blogs, Tweets, third-party online and offline recruitment and activation as well as — yes, this is controversial — opposition research and, if necessary, opposition depositioning. That’s right, if you are getting attacked, attack back.
  8. Look at social media like learning a language.  The more that your staff (and you) know, the more that you will not know.  This is where #4 comes in handy – if you and others are reading and listening to smart people, you will have a sense of what to be looking at for the future.
  9. Given all of the tools in #8, do not be afraid to take the gloves off.  If the threat is so serious that it could unfairly bring down your business or client, make sure everyone understands whats at stake;  and what you should be doing about it.  If the threat is so serious that people are going DEFCON 5, make sure that you CAN go to DEFCON 5.
  10. Be a thought leader – if you do all of the above well, you are likely smart as hell.  Engage in online conversations with others that a) further your learning and b) further your reputation.
  11. BONUS:  Rinse, lather, repeat.

I hope that all of you enjoy reading this series as much as I am writing it.




  1. This may be one of my favorites of all your posts….really right on!

  2. This may be my favorite of all your posts – really hits the nail on the head!

  3. Amen. I particularly like 1-4. Quick question on #6–and I might be missing the point–but did you mean “*no* junior staff here” or is the point to use junior staff because they have the new media knowledge base?

    Looking very much forward to subsequent posts!


  4. Mark Story Says: October 27, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Good question, Jen.

    My “junior staffers,” I should have noted that I meant those who are less experienced in the subject matter – and those are often the more senior people just because they have been around the issue longer.

    Thanks for reading! Wait ’till you see tomorrow’s post..


  5. umm… yeah. What you said.

  6. Wow, David.

    You continue to amaze me with your erudite and insightful comments.

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