Public relation means public image
Continuity of image is a somewhat vague idea. But the main point of it is that one should feel like a real person when speaking to someone online. The point of doing so is to manage one’s reputation and perception by the public. This can make someone feel as if they should present a flawless and pristine image. But this type of overly polished facade will often, even usually, come off as disingenuous to the public. This will only end up doing more harm in the long run. Instead one should try to present a very real picture of one’s actual personality. Obviously there should be some moderation of speech and behavior involved. One might experience a moment of annoyance with an argumentative person online, for example. And those instances might cause one to pull back just a bit in terms of how it might be handled otherwise. But for the most part the old saying of “be yourself” holds a surprising amount of weight. A false persona is often easily detected and usually resented. Not to mention that it’s difficult to maintain in the long run.
One’s real persona is how a person got to where he is. And it’s something that one should be proud of. As such, there’s no problem simply speaking to an internet audience as one would to a stranger at a party. Personable, polite, but willing to touch on things in a direct manner. And above all one should be open to the idea of really being active within an online community.
For example, consider the case of someone who runs a store that sells hiking equipment. Traditional advertising would focus on trying to present an image of a store owner within commercials. The modern and more effective take on this would be active participation on hiking forums and social networking groups. This kind of active participation might not seem like much to an outside perspective. After all, one is probably only directly speaking with ten, fifty, or just in general a very small group of people. But what tends to be forgotten is that people who go online to talk about their interests are usually the tend setters. These are the people so in love with a hobby that they can’t stop thinking of it even when they’re not actually doing it. These are the people who others talk with when they’re interested in getting started in the hobby. And they’re the people who will carry on the next aspect of online reputation management for free.
When one interacts with an audience like this, it creates the kind of good will and feelings that influence them to talk about it to others. This will be true in both an online and offline setting. To go with the earlier example of someone who sells hiking equipment it’s important to consider the influence he’ll find. In a given week of being active on a forum or group he might talk to, say, 20 different people. This might take up around 30 minutes of a day. Something easily managed during a lunch break.
During that time those 20 people will have formed a solid and positive perception of him. They’ll also typically be very active online at different times and in different groups than the store owner is. Every single one of them is now primed to act as a positive voucher for said store owner. When his name or company comes up, the person who interacted with him will want to voice a positive opinion. In turn this can influence the person who heard about it to check out the thread or post. They’ll be able to operate in a similar manner when they find the same positive perception. This can rapidly turn into a large group of people who are willing, eager, and even happy to convey positive feelings about said hypothetical store owner.