The Ratings are Coming

Small businesses have always known the importance of word of mouth. Many successful businesses have been built on word of mouth referrals, and many have been killed by bad word of mouth.

But now the landscape is changing, making word of mouth more important than ever - only now, that word of mouth is being communicated on the Internet.

People - your customers - are turning to the Internet as their primary source of information on products and services. Instead of opening the yellow pages of their phone book, they turn to Yahoo or Google. And in addition to websites and listings for local businesses, they are finding ratings and reviews!

Sites like Amazon.com and ePinions pioneered product rating systems. In some categories, these ratings have become essential to a product's success: more than 60% of consumer electronics purchasers report that they consult online ratings before making a purchase decision!

Ratings have also become common is a few other business categories, such as restaurants and hotels.

But the online ratings explosion is just starting; Internet entrepreneurs are demonstrating that virtually anything can be rated online.

RateMyProfessors.com, launched in 1999, allows college students to rate - well, professors. The site has accumulated over 3 million ratings, and has spun off another site, RateMyTeachers.com, aimed at high school and elementary students.

ApartmentRatings.com has the most comprehensive database of apartment ratings, with almost 250,000 reviews. RateMDs.com was formed to allow patients to rate their doctors. A new site, ClubRatingz.com, allows patrons to rate nightclubs and bars (perhaps while recovering from hangovers?)

Rating sites are even risking the wrath of the legal profession: LawyerRatingz.com provides attorney ratings and reviews.

All of these sites feature a fair share of rants and raves. Many of the comments are semi-coherent ramblings, often typed with Caps Lock down. But surprisingly, over time and with enough ratings, a fairly accurate picture emerges. Some reviewers provide well-thought reviews and useful information. And the sites are being visited and read!

The ratings phenomena may not have reached your industry or your community, but it probably will. So what can you do about it?

First, be aware of ratings sites. Use a search engine to look for rating sites in your area and business. (Search for things like landscaper ratings in Pittsburgh or hair salon reviews in Sacramento.) You may find that your business is already listed on a rating site. If it is, make sure that the basic listing information (business name, location, website) is correct, and if not, contact the site operator. If your business is not listed, see if there is a way to add your listing. Do not pay for this service! Legitimate rating sites are not supported by the businesses being rated! (However, a few sites offer enhanced "listings" for a small fee. Consider paying for this is the site seems to be well run and have a lot of traffic.)

Check the rating sites regularly. You might actually get some good information on how customers see your business, and where you need to make improvements.

Encourage your patrons to rate your business. Satisfied customers will give you good ratings. (Don't try to "flood" a rating site with bogus reviews; many of these sites use algorithms to detect the source of ratings, and may even remove businesses that try to cheat.)

If you get a bad review, there's probably not much you can do about it. The rating and review sites are on pretty solid legal ground, and most will not remove bad reviews. However, some sites have a mechanism for responding to a review, so be sure to ask about this. If nothing else, you can submit your own review and calmly refute the complaints of other reviewers. Be careful to stay calm and professional, and not get into online debates that can damage your credibility.

In the end, business success is still based on word of mouth - but now more people are listening.

Bob Nicholson / WYGK Consulting provides business, technology and strategic consulting for small businesses, internet start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Visit http://www.wygk.com

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

CNN

Corker: North Korea pulled good PR move
CNN
JUST WATCHED. Corker: North Korea pulled good PR move. Replay. More Videos ... MUST WATCH. Playing on. Play Video. Play MuteMute. Current Time 0:00. /. Duration Time 0:00. Loaded: 0%. 0:00. Progress: 0%. 0:00. Progress: 0%. Live. Remaining Time -0:00 ...


CNNMoney

How major companies handle - and botch - public relations crises
CNNMoney
Before Southwest and Starbucks came Equifax (EFX), Facebook (FB), United Airlines (UAL) and Wells Fargo (WFC). Each of these companies has had to navigate a public relations crisis over the past year and a half. Some have been more successful than ...

and more »

Deadline

Slate PR Promotes 10 Across Team
Deadline
“We are very excited to be recognizing the outstanding work of these team members with these well-deserved promotions,” the Slate PR partners said. “Not only are all of these folks incredibly talented and hard-working executives, they also have great ...


Bitcoin News (press release)

PR: Bitcoin of America Opening New BTMs in 5 Major U.S. Cities ...
Bitcoin News (press release)
Chicago, IL: Bitcoin of America is happy to announce that they will be expanding their services in five major U.S. cities during the next four months. The company, which is headquartered in Chicago, IL, will be opening new Bitcoin Teller Machines ...

and more »

MLive.com

Lambert Edwards buys New York PR firm
MLive.com
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Lambert, Edwards & Associates is bolstering its national presence with the purchase of a New York financial public relations firm, Owen Blicksilver Public Relations, Inc. The deal announced this week moves LE&A from a Midwest player ...


Forbes

13 Proven Tactics For Getting Free PR
Forbes
For most modern PR professionals, the goal is to get their clients earned media -- press mentions, news features, TV and radio segments, etc. that don't cost anything other than their time and knowledge. These media placements can drive significant ...


InsideSources

Pulitzer Prize Winners Moving to PR: What Does That Say About the ...
InsideSources
The Pulitzer Prize is the ultimate accolade of American journalism, the mark of the best of the best, or perhaps, the culmination of a lifetime of effort in the field. A few publications win more than their fair share–the Boston Globe, the New York ...

and more »

Slate Magazine

Why the Starbucks Racial Bias Training Is More Than Just Good PR
Slate Magazine
For Starbucks, racism isn't just bad PR: It's an existential threat to the entire business model. The job of a Starbucks manager, then, is to constantly be aware of social interactions in the store, and to try to keep it as welcoming as possible to as ...
Anatomy of a PR response: How Starbucks is handling its Philadelphia crisisWashington Post
Starbucks to Close All U.S. Stores for Racial-Bias Education | Starbucks NewsroomStarbucks Newsroom
Unconscious Bias | diversity.ucsf.eduUCSF Office of Diversity and Outreach
TeenVogue.com
all 618 news articles »

CNN

Most of Puerto Rico still without power
CNN
(CNN) With most of Puerto Rico in the dark Wednesday night, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said in a tweet that he has suggested Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority cancel its contract with a subcontractor that caused an island-wide power outage. An ...
In Puerto Rico, Stadium Lights Glow, Homes Do NotNew York Times
Puerto Rico Series coverageMLB.com
Puerto Rico Loses Power — AgainNPR
AccuWeather.com -Bloomberg -NBCNews.com
all 689 news articles »

Morris Posts PR in Steeplechase at War Eagle Invitational
GoMocs.com
AUBURN, Ala. --- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga runner Haley Morris led a strong showing for the Mocs with a PR in the 3000 meter Steeplechase at the War Eagle Invitational hosted by Auburn University. "We had another good day with Haley ...

Google News

Crisis Management

The Internet may have opened worlds for businesses and consumers,... Read More

10 Secrets to Free Publicity

Public relations is popular because it is very cost-effective and... Read More

Add Some Firepower to your PR

Sure, as tactics usually presented to business, non-profit and association... Read More

Yes, There is a PR Sweet Spot

And here it is: public relations alters individual perception leading... Read More

Make Front Page News By NOT Inviting The Media

Not a single reporter showed up at our news event.... Read More

Do I Really Need a Publicist?

Are you hesitating about hiring a publicist or, if you... Read More

7 Tips to Get More Mileage Out of Your Online or Offline Publicity

You worked hard to get a story on your business... Read More

How to Write a Press Release

Why You Should Write Press Releases: A press release is... Read More

Which PR? Judge for Yourself

You are a senior business, non-profit or association manager. So,... Read More

Online Business Press Release Writing Tips And Ideas

Press releases are one of the most cost-effective ways to... Read More

Financial Planners Publicity and Marketing - Live By The Calendar

The media live by the calendar. Your story pitch might... Read More

Driving Near School Buses in Company Vehicles

School BusesWhen approaching a school bus: Slow down; If the... Read More

Media Relations: Making Your Story More Newsworthy

During my career as the head of media relations for... Read More

The MOST Powerful Marketing and Advertising on the Planet!

It sounds too simple to be true, but it really... Read More

Photographs - Ten Tips For Getting Good Shots

Photographs are essential for getting good publicity in the print... Read More

Public Relations

The wind of changes...The digital world has changed the form... Read More

Why PR Packs a Punch

Done right, it delivers the key, target audience behaviors you... Read More

Get Write To It

The toughest thing about writing a news release is getting... Read More

Public Relations Mixup?

When you pay good money for public relations services, you... Read More

For Financial Planners, Marketing and Publicity Is About You

For financial planners, getting publicity, in the end, isn't about... Read More

Why Do You Want PR?

To get someone's name in the newspaper or a product... Read More

When Should You Outsource Your PR Efforts?

1) Do you NEED solid, consistant media exposure...week after week,... Read More

Its the Little Details that Can Make or Break a News Story

Have you ever heard of the saying, "One person's trash... Read More

Knowing the Community

You are in business for yourself, but how well do... Read More

The Right Hook

Have you fantasized about spreading word of your business on... Read More