Some people say that there's no such thing as bad publicity, that even the most inflammatory comments still build buzz, that at least your name will stick in the mind. "As long as your face and name is out there, as long as you're dancing in the public eye it doesn't matter whether your laces are untied or your sock has a hole or your hair looks like you combed it with a corkscrew," said James Lileks. Of course, this being Lileks, you know he was kidding. Therefore:

Memorandum to:
J. Corpulent Feline
Big Office in the Corner
Above the Glass Ceiling

As a corporate fat cat, you recognize the need to keep track of what's being said about you and your company out there in the wild, woolly blogosphere. There are several approaches to this. You could, for instance, check Technorati for occasional mentions of your products or services. You could subscribe to the feeds of popular blogs that cover your industry. You could meet the 'sphere on its own terms with a blog of your own, as, for instance, General Motors has done.

Or you could write a large check to these guys.

This is what they do:

Reputrace is a blog monitoring service. They promise clients the ability to watch "consumer opinion, employees concerns, competitors strengths and weaknesses and emerging threats to a company's reputation, brand and products."

Because, after all, nothing anyone ever says on a blog could possibly be good, right?

I first heard of this bunch from the cranky The Consumerist blog, whose tagline is "Shoppers Bite Back," which prints a lot of stories from the field about how Company A screwed over this customer, and not quite so many about how Company B earned the trust of another. It should surprise no one that Reputrace actually looks in at The Consumerist from time to time.

From one of their commenters:

Interesting that companies are willing to spend possibly thousands of dollars to monitor blogs for negative publicity instead of spending the trifling amount that it would cost to remedy the issue which caused the "tempest of bad publicity" in the first place.

But not, I suspect, surprising. Reputrace's slogan, in fact, is "Trace the venom," which suggests a predisposition to expect poison at every turn.

I have to admit, though, I'm more amused by the idea of paying someone and presumably paying someone a lot basically to surf the Web via search engines. (Geez, why can't I get a job like that?)

The Vent

  1 November 2006

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 Copyright © 2006 by Charles G. Hill