Managing your personal online reputation will be a core life skill

…managing your personal reputation will
become a basic life/career skill as the way the world communicates becomes
increasing oriented to the web.

Celebrities savaged in newsgroups? Business leaders being smeared in chat rooms? You can be sure that clued up
publicists and communications advisors are looking into social media and wider
web culture and how it can affect their clients’ reputations.

But when
think about the democratisation of media, the ubiquity of the means of
production and distribution of content, the consumer-generated content
revolution, all of the new opportunities for individuals, increasingly people are becoming cognisant of new threats to personal reputation.

Three
stories yesterday gave me cause to reflect on social media and the growing power of personal reputation with regards to it:

  1. The
    Times
    ran a story on "online personas" advising job candidates to think about what the Web says about them –
    are there dodgy stories about you on FriendsReunited.com? Have friends posted
    photos on Flickr. (NB: in reverse graduates in the UK looking for jobs also
    talk about how big corporates treat their candidates and new recruits at
    DoctorJob.com – a hidden, dusty corner of corporate reputation – I wonder how many corporates know what is being said about them…)
  2. DontDateHimGirl.com:
    the New York Times reported on a website on which jilted women "out" men
    who have treated them badly.
  3. Steve
    Rubel’s being hired by Edelman: hired? Acquired more like. The company got more
    than than an individual’s considerable skills and experience in social media,
    it acquired the Micropersuasion brand from CooperKatz, a brand which could not
    be separated from Mr Rubel, as it was so much a part of his personal online reputation.

From
an individual’s point of view: what do you do if you are slammed in
DontDateHimGirl.com Sue? Complain? Could it affect your job chances if your past alleged misdeeds come up on Google when a potential employer or customer puts your name in?

If
it’s serious enough you may want to do both. But in the meantime its likely that
you will need to look after your own reputation online. You would hopefully
have a fairly positive / accurate profile out there already – if you are
running a personal / professional blog you might want to rebut or set up a
standalone site.

Just as with corporate communications it will bode better for you if you already have an established reputation and communications channels in place to deal with negative attention.

Extrapolate
this out and you start to see that managing your personal reputation will
become a basic life/career skill as the way the world communicates becomes
increasing oriented to the web. Wealthier individuals may well require specialist personal advice in the same way that they now look to a financial adviser or personal trainer to help them. Could this be a new wider market for PR consultants, where to date it has been the preserve of the super rich?

You
can see that there will certainly be a market for self-help advice and coaching in this
area – perhaps the basics will be taught at college as part of preparing young
people for their careers.