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Ten Steps to Protecting Yourself Online

Ten Steps to Protecting Yourself Online

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Published by Ted Janusz

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Published by: Ted Janusz on Aug 16, 2011
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Ten steps t prtectingyr reptatin nline
By Ted Janusz
o you know what your potential customers are learning about you online? Just because you don’t hear it doesn’t
mean that people aren’t talking about you and your parking 
acility on the Internet. Those bits and pieces o inormation cansway others’ opinions o your company and acilities, which can
then afect your business, even i what’s being said is untrue! Fol-
low these 10 steps to protect your reputation online and controlwhat’s “out there” about you.
DiD YoUhear theone aboUtYoU?
international Parking institute
sePtemBer 2011
Step 1: Dn’t D Anything Flish online
An employee o a large, well-respected public rela-
tions rm was fying to Memphis, Tenn., to discuss (o 
all things) social media with FedEx, one o the rm’s
largest clients. Unortunately, this employee, who, as asocial media expert should have known better, decided
to Tweet his disdain or Memphis just as he exited thecity’s airport.
Twenty minutes later, as he was entering the FedEx
headquarters, all hell broke loose. A number o FedEx
employees who ollowed this gentleman on Twitter
saw his Tweet about Memphis and, as proud residents
o said city, took oense.
“Within days, the story had spread around the
globe, embarrassing the employee and the PR agency,and bringing into question FedEx’s wisdom or hiring a social media expert who assumed nobody was read-
ing his tweets,” say Jamie Turner and Reshma Shah,
authors o 
 How to Make Money With Social Media
Step 2: Find ot What others are SayingAbt Y online
 You might claim, “But I’d never do anything so oolishonline!” What can be said about you by others on the
Internet can also have an immediate and drastic efect
on your business. Consider this next example, shared
by Michael Fertik and David Thompson, authors o 
Wild West 2.0
One morning in late 2008, a sotware glitch oc-
curred, and an outdated article about United Airlines’
2002 bankruptcy ling appeared in the Google Newssystem as i it were new. The sudden appearance o a
new-seeming article led a writer at the
 Income Securi-
ties Advisor
newsletter to mention the possibility o abankruptcy in his own article.
That article was then automatically distributed by
the Bloomberg newswire to hundreds o websites. Oncea (alse) story about the new United bankruptcy rumor
appeared on hundreds o sites, the Google newsbotmistook the story’s popularity as conrmation o its
importance and made the story even more prominent
on the Google News site. The cycle continued.
Stock traders immediately reacted, sending UAL
stock into a tailspin that ended with a 76 percent drop
in the company’s value beore trading was automatically
halted. By that aternoon, United was able to deny therumor, but UAL stock still closed down 10 percent on
the day. O course, all parties involved claimed that
somebody else was responsible or the error.
So you may ask, “How can I nd out what others
may be saying about me online?”
Step 3: Begin by Cndcting a GgleSearch
Do what more than 1 billion people do each day: conduct
a Google search. Start by searching your own name.When I recently searched Google using my name,on the rst page o the results, I ound links to:
My Google prole.
My website.
My LinkedIn account.
Articles I have written.
My Facebook account.
My Twitter account.
A speakers bureau to which I belong.
eBay University, or which I taught.
What results do you get or a Google search on your
name? What results do you get when you conduct a
search or your parking operation?
www.p./pp sePtemBer 2011 | international Parking institute
      i      s      t      o      c      k
Step 4: Create a GglePrfle
Next, to insert the inormation that
you want others to read about you
in what is likely to be that rst valu-
able piece o online real estate, cre-
ate a ree Google Prole, at proles.
google.com. For now, this applies
to individuals only, but Google says
businesses will be able to establish
proles in the near uture.
According to Google, your Pro-le is the way you present yoursel 
on Google and across the Web.
With your Prole, you can manage
the inormation—such as your bio,
contact details, and links to other sites
about you or created by you—that people
will see.
At a minimum, your rst name,
last name, and photo will be pub-
lic on the Internet. You can then
provide a variety o additional in-
ormation about yoursel in your
prole. You can also allow peopleto contact you without displaying 
your contact inormation.
Step 5: Set up a GgleAlert
To stay continually up-to-date
on what people are saying about
you online, sign up or another ree
Google service called Google Alerts, at
This is similar to the old-ashioned clipping services
that would send you copies o 
articles rom newspapers and
magazines on topics o your
choice. Google will do the sameor you or the Internet, but or
ree. You determine how oten
you would like to be notied
by e-mail when an article con-
taining your chosen keywordsappears on the Web.
Sign up or Google Alerts oryour organization, competitors,
customers, and vendors to keep
abreast o what is happening with
your entire world online.
Step 6: Sign up r Scial MediaAccnts
Why should you do this? Google will con-
sistently rank these sites high, since they are
some o the most popular sites on the Internet.I you don’t already have them, sign up or
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and
Myspace accounts. For LinkedIn, Facebook,
and Myspace, you can even create a URL thatcontains your name. For Twitter and YouTube,
choose a username as close to your real name
as possible.
Step 7: Create Yr own Website
Another deensive posture you can take is to
purchase a domain with your name, even i you don’t have a current need or a website.“I you discover online content with which
you don’t want to be associated,” says Kristin
Burnham, o CIO.com, “you can use this site to
build additional pages, all o which will rank
high on a Google search o you, since they
contain your name in the URL.”But what should you do i someone does
try to sully your reputation or that o your
parking operation online?
Step 8: Play Great Deense
“Monitoring the Web won’t prevent an online
attack,” says Jon Bernstein o BNET.com. “I you all victim, don’t panic: Think beore you
respond. I a blogger has their acts wrong,correct him—most will quickly amend their
posts. I the criticism is true, apologize using the
same medium as the message. Your willingness
to engage is likely to win over the skeptics.”
“I it is an isolated incident and no one has
replied,” says Andy Beal, co-author o 
 Radi-cally Transparent: Monitoring and Managing 
 Reputations Online
, “you might consider letting 
sleeping dogs lie.”
But i it is a serious attack, ollow the leado J. Patrick Doyle, president o the Domino’s
pizza chain. Ater two disgruntled employeescaused an immediate uproar by posting a dis-gusting video supposedly exposing operations
at their Domino’s restaurant on YouTube,
Doyle created and posted his own video on the
site to tell his side o the story. Doyle’s videohas received nearly 31,000 views.
“In most cases, people will remove the
oending item rom the blog or orum,” says
international Parking institute
sePtemBer 2011

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