The last few years have been a whirlwind of technological advances, and because of that, there have been a lot of changes to the way reputations are managed. Before 2006, reputation management was performed almost exclusively by public relations firms. There wasn’t much need for web reputation management since the internet was a relatively new thing for most people. Of course, the internet was still a place to get information, it just wasn’t as accessible. A few web reputation management firms opened in the late ‘90s, but for the most part, everything was left to public relations to handle. About a decade ago, the internet really took off. Restaurants started advertising free WiFi, smartphones started coming out, and the online news industry was booming. Social media brought everyone closer together, and everything was made public.
Public relations firms began popping up around 1900. The creation of the Publicity Bureau in that year sparked the public relations market. Of course, public relations existed long before that, but on a much smaller scale. Public relations was not considered a legitimate career, however, until the late 1940s. This was mostly due to public distrust. It seemed a lot like lying, and people did not like that. Many people are still bitter about the supposed crookedness of the public relations field, but it has calmed down a lot over the years. Much of that bitterness, however, has been transferred to web reputation management.
When Google was founded in 1998, things got a little shifty in the reputation department. It was impossible to control what was put on the internet, so people just had to deal with it. There were a few web reputation management firms, but not enough to do much good. It was extremely difficult for people, celebrities especially, to control their reputations. That is, until 2005, when Reputation X was founded. Reputation X was the first large-scale online reputation management firm. Since its establishment, many more firms have opened, creating a whole new world of reputation management. Many people are reacting to this new market in the same way that people reacted to public relations, believing that these firms are created to deceive people. That is not the case. They exist to protect people. Fake news, business reviews, and the like are all over the internet. It is important that there is some control, even if it only helps a little. Reputation management is, largely, a good thing, as it protects innocent people and businesses from being perceived as evil.
Never before have we had as much information available to us at any given moment as we do today. We can have any piece of trivia, news, or humor at our fingertips within seconds. It is a wonderful thing. However, this information has the ability to ruin people’s lives. Without reputation management, many great people, businesses, and organizations would never stand a chance. It is an extremely judgmental, yet, wonderful world we live in and it is becoming increasingly more important with each new day for us to protect the reputations of well-meaning people, businesses, and organizations.