Joycelyn Elders says it’s OK to Google Yourself

June 18th, 2008 by Will Scott

I want to apologize for any juvenile references to follow — my 40th birthday is ~ 6 weeks away and this may be part of my mid-life crisis.

Or as my friend Michael, a New Orleans commercial insurance agent, says: “go Google yourself”!

Surely you realize Dr. Elders didn’t really say that. But, what she did say is alleged to have gotten her fired. For those who don’t remember, Joycelyn Elders was fired by Bill Clinton in the 90’s because she said things that, while true, could have used a little more finesse. That said, she was talking about AIDS which clearly warrants a direct approach.

Joycelyn Elders - Surgeon General Fired by Bill Clinton

Joycelyn Elders - Surgeon General Fired by Bill Clinton

Talk about a reputation management issue…

This all came about as I was groping for a sticky (affiliate link) way to get across the concept of reputation management to my BNI group (a very valuable weekly networking lunch: Business Networking International).

As a kid I recall the juxtaposition of “kids should be taught to respect themselves” with the aids AIDS messaging below and we of course came up with “respecting yourself” as a euphemism for you-know-what.

Words can get you fired.  Jocelyn Elders could have used a little Reputation Management

Words can get you fired. Jocelyn Elders could have used a little Reputation Management

Serendipitously, this seems to have been my theme for the last couple weeks.

No, not that (get your mind out of the gutter)… Reputation management.

We’ve had a few clients develop reputation management challenges with which we’re contending and it makes me think: in a world where many small businesses don’t even have email how are they supposed to manage their reputations.

I was having a conversation with a young attorney at the New Orleans NetSquared meetup who was actually taking the view that her clients should publish less online! And as I expressed to her, just because you’re not part of the conversation doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It’s happening without you and about you and you as the business owner need to Google yourself.

Start with your company name, then your name in various iterations and go at least 4 or 5 pages deep. It’s a heck of a lot easier to fix a problem before it’s on page 1. Not everyone is ready to spend the money for an industrial strength reputation management tool like Andy Beal’s Trackur

(affiliate link) but using this simple mechanism you can assure you manage potential issues before they get out of hand.

This may be the most critical issue for small businesses for the next few years. There have been some great writings from friends of mine on the value of ratings and reviews for small business but I’m telling you right now, off the coasts this is a relatively unknown issue.

Small business owners, Joycelyn Elders says it’s OK. Please go Google yourself.