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Not too long ago it seemed very likely that the US would have another President Bush, or at least another Bush as the Republican nominee for president. In April 2015, CNN reported that “Jeb Bush has held on to the top spot among Republicans” and as recently as August, Newsweek claimed “Jeb Bush likely to beat Donald Trump”. Now, just a few months later and Bush has officially dropped out of the race after only one caucus and two primaries. There are of course many complex reasons that Bush didn’t perform the way he was expected to, but one issue stands out because it should have been so easy to avoid, and because it’s a mistake a lot of us need to learn from.
Jeb Bush’s campaign did not secure the domain names JebBush.com, JebBushForPresident.com, or JebBushForPresident.net. In December the Daily Caller reported that JebBush.com would redirect to Trump’s campaign page and other sources have mentioned this more recently, but currently the site seems to be just an unused page. Jeb is not the only one of the Republican candidates to drop the ball in this regard.
Carly Fiorina, who has also left the presidential race, didn’t register CarlyFiorina.org. The person who did get it used it to create an infographic showing the number of people Fiorina fired while she was at Hewlett Packard. Fiorina’s failure is surprising because she worked in tech; she should know the medium and the importance of taking control of your brand online according to reputation management expert Richart Ruddie.
Bush’s failure is equally surprising because it seems like Jeb has been considering and even preparing for a presidential bid for years. There should have been plenty of time for his team to lock up any domain name combinations he could want.
In both cases, the candidates’ failure to prepare for the campaign by securing all the domain names meant that a significant piece of their online reputation was in someone else’s hands. Losing control of their digital presence is a surprising mistake for high profile political candidates but they’re certainly not the only ones to make it. Most businesses and individuals don’t have to worry about someone using a similar domain name to undermine their online reputation, but negative social media posts, bad SEO results, and negative online reviews can be just as damaging.
This is not a new phenomenon; in 2011 CBS Money Watch ran a story on “The 10 Worst Social Media Screwups” and there have been many similar stories since. As more people spend more time online it’s become essential for businesses to proactively create, cultivate, and manage their Internet presence. In fact, the importance of a positive online profile isn’t limited to businesses anymore. Individuals can face severe negative professional and personal consequences if they don’t control their online reputation.
For presidential candidates, regular people, and businesses alike, crafting a positive online reputation takes work. Getting the right domain names, avoiding common social media blunders, and having a great website are just the beginning. These days it’s also necessary to engage in SEO management, address negative reviews on sites like Yelp or Glassdoor, and continually monitor the web. This seems like a daunting task and many of us wouldn’t even know where to begin but luckily where there is demand, supply follows.
As the need for online reputation management has grown, specialised experts have begun providing this service and allowing us to be in control of our online presence so the third Bush faux pas doesn’t happen again to the next person who has an important bid. Most of us aren’t running for president, but many of us may be making the same mistake as Bush and Fiorina and letting detractors have a big impact on our online reputation. These candidates’ very public domain name blunders should serve as a warning to the rest of us; paying attention and taking control of your online presence is essential to success and the time to start doing it is now.