One-Woman Brand Management

A few months ago, I found out that my name was on a petition going around Boston--a petition that I hadn't actually signed myself. A nonprofit organization had posted on its Web site a list of those who supposedly signed the petition--and sure enough, there were my first and last names, and an old address from when I lived in Boston, circa 2000. Even worse was that this information was presented as a natural listing in Google for a search on the term "Cerelle Centeno."

During quick call to the nonprofit, I learned there had been a number of fraud charges brought up against this particular petition. What I needed to do to avoid this happening in the future was to contact the city government and ensure that my old personal information was fully removed from any records.

Not only did I not sign the petition, but I haven't lived in Boston for years. What's more, I wasn't even in town when the petition was apparently being promoted around town. I was in need of some serious online buzz control. After all, my first and last names combined are unique, and a Google (vanity) search presents information about no other Cerelle Centenos besides me. I e-mailed the South End Wiki, which had picked up the listings from the non-profit site, and it was kind enough to post in its "petition fraud" section my e-mailed statement in which I explained that I had not, in fact, signed any petitions in Boston.



Now imagine this scenario times 1,000, 10,000 or even 1 million. You're a major corporation with a number of different brands, and you need to track crises like mine, or trademark misuse, every moment of every day. You can't simply e-mail your friendly neighborhood Wiki; in fact you can't even employ someone to trawl the Internet all day long just to monitor your brands' mentions, perception and buzz. This is a scenario in which automated online brand tracking can be helpful.

But even the tracking alone is not enough. As brand manager for myself, I write for MediaPost and for my company's corporate blog, and these postings help build positive online buzz for my name as a search term. As the brand manager for a major brand, you need access not only to the data but the insights derived from this data and a team of experts who can advise you accordingly by building out blogs or microsites that promote a positive image.

Information is good, but it's only as valuable as what you decide to do with it. In my case, the petition is still mentioned in a search on Google for my full name. However, my message regarding its validity is also there, as is a bunch of other information about me that is true. Furthermore, the negative buzz has been pushed down in the natural listings and is decidedly outweighed by the positive buzz--a brand management job well done.

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