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Online Reputation Management: This Is Not Your Fathers Politics

Reputations can be made or broken online. Presidential candidates you would hope would have only the very best advisors. B.L. Ochman reports one presidential hopeful has had a few problems with his online image lately …

A few days ago, typing — a common misspelling of his name — took you to a site that re-directed you to a YouTube video of Giuliani in drag from a gag clip made at a 2000 press roast dinner. In it, he’s smooching Donald Trump. Yecch.

… But in previous days, according to The Daily News, the site re-directed visitors to John Edwards’ site and also to one with the sordid details of his divorce from Donna Hanover.

For most of us one domain is sufficient, it’s not a big deal if someone ends up at the wrong place. Do a search for “chris garrett” in Google and you could be forgiven for ending up at another Chris Garretts site. While the surfer dude and the professor are unlikely to recieve my traffic there is at least one other UK Chris Garrett who works in new media (although the other guy is younger and probably better looking!). These are real people who registered domains for their own use, I am unlikely (unless I make some BIG mistakes) to have anyone putting up a hate/sucks/comedy site under my name.

It is worth searching your name once in a while, both in Google and in Technorati and both the proper and incorrect spelling. People don’t always link who they are talking about, especially when what they have to say isn’t very nice. Try it, you might learn something. People in the public eye though, especially anybody in politics, are going to need to be more careful and strategic about their public persona. Giuliani should be kicking some bottoms in his team right now.

Here is a surprising statistic from techPresident

To my surprise, only five of the 17 presumed candidates have purchased keywords on search engines. And if you take a closer look, it’s the Republicans who are doing a significantly better job of using search to communicate with the electorate.

The next US election could be won or lost on the internet. Already blogs are very influential in swaying public opinion, now they are going to be massively influential in campaign contributions. Several pundits are imagining Al Gore entering the race and garnering huge amounts of funds purely from online support. Not managing properly the web part of a campaign could be both damaging and expensive.

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