Building a website
  • 23
  • July

Should Clients Build More Websites for Reputation Management?

How many websites does one person or organization need?

This is an important question for anyone considering an online reputation management campaign. There is no universal, always correct way of answering the question. A multinational corporation may need many websites.

And what is a website?

People may quickly say that any domain is a website but a domain can host thousands or millions of websites. That is the case with domains like Blogspot, Facebook, and WordPress.Com.

The free blogging platforms make sense but few people realize that Facebook’s individual accounts, pages, and groups are also standalone, independent websites. Each account owner can create a distinctive design for their account, pages, and groups and restrict access to each.

Virtually all social media accounts serve as microsites for their owners, whether brands, government agencies, or individuals.

The truth is that people now create many more websites than they realize, often with little to no effort. You only need to register an account with a new platform to launch a new site.

One need not register a domain name to create a website, although a domain registration is prudent for any brand or trademark owner.

Every Website Needs a Specific Purpose

In traditional online marketing, most needs are solved by a single domain and perhaps a few social media accounts. An eCommerce site may host its product pages on the root host and a blog can be positioned on a subdomain or in a subfolder.

But a multibrand company with many distinctive product lines may pursue so many different marketing goals that a portfolio of branded websites makes more sense.

Whether the sub-brands are managed by departments or subsidiaries, the larger a website portfolio becomes the more complex a marketing strategy is. Each site most likely has its own target audiences and objectives. And some sites may be retired from active promotion for years at a time.

Portfolios of social media accounts may also entail different goals and strategies. Some accounts may be created for marketing and some may represent official corporate points of view. Each department in a large company may have its own social media presence to support its specific products and services.

In general, a website portfolio’s purpose is intended to pursue business goals, and often these sites are expected to show some kind of return on investment.

Brand Building is Pre-emptive Reputation Management

Although many reputation management campaigns only begin after a public relations problem occurs, the very act of launching a new brand initiates the first reputation campaign for that brand.

The same is true for any person who creates their first “personal” website. An artist, scientist, academic, or business leader may gradually create several personal sites from social media accounts to subdomain blogs on certain websites, to their own standalone domains.

All of these kinds of sites contribute to the reputation of the individual or organization. They serve useful purposes in announcing and/or promoting the ideas, works, and activities of individuals or organizations.

On the other hand, a reputation repair strategy isn’t expected to create new brand value or to build an audience or market share for a brand or trademark. The campaign seeks to supplant hostile or embarrassing content with more favorable content either in search or on social media.

Every Reputation Management Campaign Begins by Counting Assets

When you work with a reputation strategist the first question on the table should be, what assets do we have to work with?

The strategist may propose publishing new content but where possible existing content should be leveraged. Content that is already known to the public, cited by the media, and already vetted by attorneys and corporate communications teams is easily integrated into a new reputation strategy.

In contrast if there is little or no content to work with then the reputation team will need to create content. Depending on how much control the client’s team needs to exercise over new content this kind of work could take weeks or months to complete.

The more time spent proposing, designing, approving, and deploying new content the longer it takes for a reputation management campaign to show improvement.

Thus it’s necessary to begin a campaign by listing available resources that can be used to promote the client’s message with as little modification (if any at all).

Creating New Websites Is a Last Resort

Not only does it save time to leverage existing web content, but it’s also more expensive to commission new websites. And then there are both legal and logistical questions.

Who owns the sites?

Who is responsible for the hosting?

What rights and prerogatives do the team members working on the new site have?

Who vets the content?

What is the approval process?

Before insisting that new content be created for a reputation campaign, weigh the pros and cons to estimate the costs in time and money.

There Is a Risk to Creating Too Much Content

If a reputation client is responding to a hostile campaign the act of publishing new websites for reputation management may draw the wrong kind of attention. Instead of quelling the storm the new content may make it worse.

The reputation team’s work should be as unobtrusive as possible. Except for executing takedown requests to have defamatory content removed, a reputation strategy seeks to improve the visible spectrum of information about a client. It’s much harder to do that when people see a flood of conspicuous content.

All New Content Should Have a Meaningful Purpose

Although it’s easy to create many social media and blog accounts on free platforms, what happens next?

It might be enough just to fill the space with empty accounts and link to them from a few websites. But if the client’s reputation is under active assault that strategy probably won’t suffice.

Every new account and standalone website created should have a clear function, a specific goal. The goals can be secondary and supportive of existing client prerogatives. It may be helpful to enlist the participation of existing corporate teams to leverage their expertise in a coordinated effort to create new useful content.

Useful content doesn’t simply mask the reputation campaign. It’s not helpful if you try to hide something in plain site only to have someone call you out. Useful content can be leveraged to advance business, professional, or benevolent projects.

The brand message should never be diluted but it can be complemented by supplemental information, case studies, and other special information that hasn’t yet been published on existing assets.

The Reputation Team Should Be Informed of Upcoming Projects

Instead of duplicating efforts, it’s more productive to advise the reputation team of what new content is planned or scheduled. While some future content may be too far out or otherwise unsuitable for the reputation campaign, the more the reputation strategy embraces existing content plans the better.

A reputation strategist may suggest changes be made to existing client assets to assist with the campaign. This is a good first step in the reputation management process. The strategist will need to know what the client’s search and social priorities are to minimize the chance of suggesting changes that won’t be adopted.

If there are policies or restrictions governing new web content, the management of content, and changes the reputation team should be advised of those conditions prior to submitting their first strategy.

Think of the discussion with the reputation team as a negotiation between a vendor and customer, and you are the middle man. Every proposal for new content must be evaluated in light of brand needs. The better informed the reputation team is the fewer delays there will be in getting approval for their ideas.

When opportunities for cooperative publication present themselves everyone should know their role in the process. When public relations teams retain outside vendors for reputation management the PR specialists may pre-emptively assume that everything happens outside the client’s brand management processes.

Indeed, some reputation management services are pitched as completely external activities but it is prudent to ensure these campaign services can pivot into smooth coordination.


Publishing new websites is always an option for any reputation campaign. For an individual or organization with an existing portfolio of websites and social media resources, it is better to first determine what can be done with existing inventory.

There are ways to leverage existing virtual websites, too. A virtual website is a collection of pages or articles about a topic – such as your client or your client’s brands – published by a third-party, such as a news website. A public relations team may be able to enhance the content of virtual websites with new interviews, special interest stories, press releases, or other content.

The reputation strategist must be able to see the entire picture. Although it may seem reasonable to ask that new sites be published at the start of the campaign, there may be better ways to utilize everyone’s expertise. However, it’s done reputation management takes time and requires careful execution to avoid exasperating hostile situations or creating new negative interest in a client’s name or brand. When the decision is made to create new websites everyone involved should understand what the objectives are and how the sites should assist with existing marketing and brand strategies.

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