At the request of some clients and the increase in questions at speaking events about "reputation management", not to mention the age old facebook page discussion about whether or not to enable fan comments on the wall - I'm throwing my .02 cents into the well.
Reputation Management isn't a service you pay for, it isn't an automated tool which screens, filters and blocks posts by keyword, and it certainly isn't the practice of having paid reviews posted on your behalf.
Yes, all of those exist - and then some - to purportedly help brands and businesses elevate their online reputation, ranking and scores. If you're a participant in this type of activity, I'll look for you and your brand on an upcoming episode of Dirty Jobs. Because yes, IMHO you are delving in the underbelly of Internet Marketing and that's a dirty job in the worst sort of way.
This has been my mantra with Social Media and online WOM marketing from day one: there are no shortcuts, silver bullets, or easy ways to establish your brand's credibility and positive reputation online without first wowing your customers offline. This is true even in eCommerce or online businesses. You're still delivering something a consumer or business will use outside of your sandbox. Hose it up, and you're done. Get it right, and you live to fight another day.
My advice, sign up for services like Google and Yahoo! alerts, set your RSS feeds with sites like Technorati, and set up searches on Twitter, Stumbleupon, Digg and YouTube - and start listening to what's being said about you, your industry, and competitors.
This is, "Reputation Monitoring", which intuitively you would need before you ever began thinking about "Management." When you're ready to manage your online reputation, train the people who monitor and manage your social media and online channels for what to look for, appropriate response mechanisms, escalation procedures and who will be responsible for what type of response and where that response will take place.
It is critical to have a response in an appropriate and swift manner to all negative, in-the-middle and yes, positive posts. However, it has to be genuine and reflective of your brand/organizations culture and the reputation you should be working to cultivate. After all, if you believe the following quote, why would you risk your reputation over a quick fix or paid patch?
A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity. ~Baltasar Gracian