When Is It Worth Paying To Guard Your Professional Reputation Online?

By David Lazarus
Los Angeles Times.

Ask David Engel how many customers he has for Review Concierge, his service to protect and repair the online reputations of healthcare professionals, and he’ll proudly say the number is around 300,000.

However, that’s “honorary” customers, doctors, dentists and others who have been signed up for Review Concierge without even knowing it.

They receive emails urging them to contact the San Diego company if negative comments or reviews are found online.

How many paying customers does Engel have? That number, he said, is closer to 1,500.

Reputation management is a fast-growing industry as review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List play an increasingly important role for businesses and consumers. Experts say a single negative comment can have lasting repercussions, from loss of business to career setbacks.

But are these reputation-management services for everyone? How do you know when it’s time to bring in professional help?

Danny DeMichele, a Carlsbad, Calif., Internet marketing consultant who assists clients with reputation-management issues, said the trick is knowing when a pro’s input can make a difference.

“Spending hundreds of dollars a month for a professional probably isn’t worth it in all situations,” he said. “There are some things you just can’t fix.”

For example, DeMichele said, it might be best to simply ignore a negative review on Google Plus or an inflammatory comment on Twitter. Trying to address them could make matters worse.

But if it looks like a reputation-scorching brush fire is burning out of control online, he said, it can be wise to hire someone with experience handling a digital fire hose.

I wrote last week about an email from Review Concierge received by David Powell, a Los Angeles pediatric dentist.

It warned that a grade of F had been found on a site called YellowBot and encouraged Powell to “create the online reputation that you deserve.”

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