Many people are now aware of the recent Internet hoax which suggests that people dressed as “creepy clowns” have been terrorizing towns across the country. Sightings and threats have shut down schools and prompted police investigations. In the end, 12 people were arrested for filing false reports. In the midst of the pandemonium, actual clown services have been taking a hit. Some performers have even chosen to skip involvement in public events, such as one group who withdrew from a Maryland parade. Clowns-for-hire have seen a big dip in business all over the US. What these clowns need now is a major uptick in positive online reputation.
Professional clowns have seen how fast things spread on the Internet. Most reports of creepy clown activity started on Facebook. These Facebook posts were later attributed to accounts started for the purpose of making a threat or were posted by individuals claiming an unsubstantiated sighting to perpetuate the hoax. In most cases, the posts were quickly shared and went viral. Suddenly people were seeing creepy clowns all over the US and individuals in the business of renting themselves out as a clown entertainer experienced a distinct dip in calls for their service.
Clowns would benefit from a massive PR effort highlighting the fact that the “creepy clowns” were a hoax. The truth needs to be circulated about the situation and the benefits of hiring a clown for parties and events. The more positive information that gets shared and liked, the quicker the public imagination will calm down; people will realize that there never really was a threat.
As suggested above, online reputation is something that spreads through articles, social media posts, and reviews that are easily accessible and shared. When a person Google’s “clowns,” the folks in the clown business want the top results to be positive.
Individual clown professionals and companies who promote them would benefit by writing blog articles on their own websites, submitting articles to local and national media sources, and utilizing off site blogs wherever possible. The more information out there, the better the chances those positive and truth-revealing articles will appear in search results.
Anytime an article is timely and relevant, it has a better chance of being visible in the search engines and getting shared. An article written about the zika virus during the 2016 Summer Olympics will get more attention than the same article written over the peak of winter, for example. Since “news” about creepy clowns is prevalent and current, articles being written about the topic will have a good chance of appearing high in the search engine results. In order for that to happen, though, top-ranked articles have to carry weight. Websites like the New York Times already hold a high domain authority, as a well-established media website. Clown services are not likely to compete with that, but that doesn’t mean they can’t publish a blog that gains some visibility. One way place to start is by ensuring the article fact-based and engaging.
It is a good idea to use links to show where the information comes from (like the link to the New York Times article about the clown hoax in the first paragraph of this article.) A well-cited article with clear facts will have a better time of convincing people that it is a credible source of information. Another added benefit of this is that other writers may link to the article on their website. The click-through rate will increase, more people will see the article, and the extra link juice will improve that article’s ranking.
Another way search engines determine the value of an article is through social signals. When an article is shared, re-tweeted, and liked the search engines take notice. The more that clowns share the above-mentioned blogs, highlighting the fact that the creepy clowns are a hoax and the public has nothing to fear, the more people will potentially share the information. The more it is shared, the higher the visibility and the better the ranking. Eventually positive, truth-based facts about clowns will gain more visibility over the outdated, inaccurate “clown sightings.”
On a more personalized basis, individual clowns and companies who offer clown services need to ensure there is nothing “creepy” in their reviews. Negative online reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, and the like, will hurt any business. It is imperative that clown services maintain positive reviews for themselves, especially during the negative hype. As public trust begins to mend, people may still be skeptical about who they hire. They will look for a service with many positive reviews and little-to-no negative reviews. Using a reputation management service can help to that end.
Utilizing email campaigns to contact current and recent customers is a great way to prompt people to post a review. A reputation management service can help set up and maintain these email campaigns. A service should also have a filter that catches bad reviews before they are posted, this affords companies the ability to personally address an unhappy customer and, hopefully, turn their opinion around before it is made public.
The creepy clown hoax will eventually fall out of the spotlight, as all topics that go viral eventually do. In the meantime, clowns have an unfortunate reputation to clean up. The more they can use online outlets to spread around the joy they are accustomed to contributing, the faster the negative reputation will begin to dissipate.