Frontiers of Business – Reputation Monitoring on a Budget

Reputation management companies are a small but growing community, listing services that monitor blogs, forums and the mainstream media to alert a company about disgruntled customers publicizing their grievances. With a little experimentation you can get similar service from an RSS reader and some careful internet searching.


The symbol above is something you might recognize. It is the symbol for RSS, Really Simple Syndication, a service that broadcasts the changing content of a website. Often you can click on the RSS symbol to subscribe to the site using your RSS reader. Try it above, you’ll open the RSS feed for this website.

RSS readers come in a variety of different setups and interfaces. My preference is Google Reader, a web based system. I read over 500 individual articles every day, a heady mix of business, religious studies, politics, news and comics. Yes, you can even get the funny pages via RSS. The link above leads to the FAQ for Google Reader, I’ll leave you to peruse it and decide if it fits your needs. There are a wide variety of different RSS readers, and I would be glad to help find one to suit your needs.

For reputation management, you can take a number of different approaches. Subscribing to a consumer affairs website like the Consumerist can give you a overview of what is going on across the business community. Custom Google searches allow you to specify to a greater extent and scan the majority of news sources out there. I’ll feature a how-to on custom Google searches on Monday.


Frontiers of Business – Reputation Management in the New Media

This post from the Harvard Business School blogs reminded me of the problems that business can get into interacting with the ‘New Media’ of blogs, forums and internet discussion. I’m a regular reader of the Consumerist, my featured link today. This blog has emerged as one of the top consumer affairs blogs and has attracted increasing media attention. You may remember the storm of media attention surrounding the Comcast technician videotaped sleeping in a customers house, the story broke on the Consumerist.

The first time your company interacts with this world it may appear chaotic, unprofessional and foreign. Threats  and legal action will rarely work in this world, and will likely bring more negative attention to your company. Every company will need to discuss and create contingency plans for the varieties of these emergencies.

Some general principles

  • Be honest, your company reputation can be significantly harmed by a lie
  • Negotiate with this customer in good faith
  • Communicate your side of the story with the website publishing the accusations
  • A crisis management officer empowered to monitor and address these concerns can reduce the stress level of the entire board

Reputation management software and services are available however for smaller corporations simply monitoring some RSS feeds can provide enough of a early warning system. Look for how to manage RSS feeds in my next post.

The Consumerist 

Social Tagging – is one of my favorite services, it is an excellent introduction to social tagging. is a simple web based system in which you can keep your bookmarks and access them from anywhere. What makes extremely useful is the ability to ‘tag’ your bookmarks with words that describe what the link is about. Other users do this as well, and aggregates all of the tags together to make recommendations for future users.

For example, if I were to tag the webpage for CNN, I would use the following tags.

News, Politics, Election, Journalism

When I search for CNN on, these tags are the most popular

CNN, News, Politics, Video, Media, TV, Business, Journalism, Funny, YouTube

Note that there are some matches and some differences between my choices and the most popular. I can always access my tags, I can add more if I like the popular ones, or I can use something completely different.

Frontiers of Business – The return of the Social Contract?

The Harvard Business School blog is an invaluable resource to me, a librarian, getting into the world of business. Reading it every day has been showing some encouraging aspects of the business community regarding Knowledge Management writ large. My understanding of Knowledge Management doesn’t rest on the software. KM comes out of corporate culture, and is based on trust. It is encouraging to see some trends like this recent post suggesting a partial return to the old social contract of long term employment.

A return to one company careers?

Knowledge Management Tools – Storytelling


Once upon a time?

In business?

You do it all the time.

I’ve made learning a professional career since I was 5 and one of the most efficient ways of processing a large amount of information is to tell it in a story. I learned trigonometry through distance estimating problems in Scouts, I learned the history of World War II through the story of ‘In Flanders Fields’ and ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’.

In the business world we have a very specialized form of storytelling, the case study. These stories form the basis of most BCom and MBA programs. My experience has shown me that while most Business School graduates can analyze a case study, very few can write them!

Good stories have structure, they have a beginning, a middle and an end. Writing a good story requires a careful weighing of what is important, do not include too many details. At a maximum, stories should be half an hour long.

In my opinion, storytelling comes into importance in areas of business where management, clients and front line workers need to understand the people behind the policies. Examples would include sales meetings, introduction of new policies, debriefing after a crisis, introducing new managment and training.

I’m including a link to ‘The Ultimate Storytelling Guide’ which you should take with a grain of salt. It is largely focused at childrens storytelling, but the principles are universal.

The Ultimate Storytelling Guide

Wikipedia – Storytelling
* Look for resources in the bibleography and links at the end of the doucment

Sunday Religious Studies – GetReligion

In all of the religion writing I have read, only one blog has consistently high standards and fascinating coverage, GetReligion. As their tagline states, ‘The press just dosen’t get religion.” This sentiment is regularly seen across the US newsmedia as well as some foreign coverage. GetReligion did an admirable job covering the complexities of the Mitt Romney and Mike Huckbee runs for president, and the impact of George W. Bush religion on his policies.


Saturday Fun – Video Lan Player (VLC)

I love movies, especially foreign films. In browsing some of the more obscure video stores around Montreal I’ve discovered a few DVD’s imported from Europe that are the wrong region. Rather than spending some additional money for a region free DVD player, I just used VLC on my laptop, a free video player for Windows, Mac, Linux and just about every operating system that is capable of playing video (including Windows Mobile 4 and 5). VLC plays a huge number of different encoding schemes for video, including Divx, Xvid, and WMV

VLC is very easy to use, however it is capable of some very interesting tricks, including streaming and multicasting video. Give it a try, watch a few DVD’s and try out some of the advanced features.