With the global connectivity of the Internet, rarely anything a company does goes unnoticed. Managing your online reputation is obviously important – you don’t want customers or other businesses to see you in a negative light, whatever you’re selling on ebay, Quickerbuy or ioffer. Even if managing your online reputation is easy under optimum circumstances, what do you do if a crisis arises, or you find you have negative reviews? The best way to deal with this is to be prepared. If you’re prepared to handle negative situations before they arise, dealing with these issues will be much easier and less costly in the long run. And there’s no better time than now to start. With the speed that news is spread over the Internet, negative publicity can pop up seemingly without warning. One of the most time consuming steps is to establish trust and credibility. If your company has a good reputation for being ethical, reliable, and responsible, then when a crisis arises, people will be more likely to listen to your side of the story. This does not come overnight, but maintaining a good rapport with customers and other businesses, as well as good PR and ethical business practices, can help you build this reputation over time. Equally important is setting up a crisis team, who will be in charge of cleaning up any negative PR. This team should include an online media spokesperson, who will act as the voice of your company on your social media sites, blogs, and anywhere else online. Your team should also include advisers whom you can consult with before reacting to a crisis or bad reviews. While negative press could pop up with lightning speed, your reaction to it shouldn’t be so hasty. Taking time to consult with others, and carefully think out your response can save a lot of headaches and having to deal with more bad publicity. If you’re angered by a bad review, you may feel the need to strike back. While we’d like to think that people can hold their temper and act in a professional manner when dealing with business issues, this isn’t always the case. The best way to respond to a negative review is to apologize to the person for their bad experience and defend your business in a calm, respectful, and professional manner. If they happen to say something about your company that isn’t true, simply clear up the misconception with an explanation. An angry or disrespectful response will only make you and your company look worse than the negative review itself. Interacting with customers online in a professional manner, even disgruntled ones, can help build your reputation as a compassionate and professional company. If your company is too small to have its one crisis or PR team, hiring an SEO firm or Public Relations professional can help you manage your online reputation. After all, you’ve put a lot of time in building your business, and your online marketing strategy. You don’t want to throw away all your hard work over one crisis or a bad piece of PR.