How Online Presence Affects Due Diligence And How Digital PR Can Help

In the modern era of increased digital connectivity, more startups and entrepreneurs have to undergo due diligence processes before forming business relationships or making important decisions, such as committing to investments.

With so many of our activities occurring online, it’s no wonder that a considerable part of this research scrutinises a startup’s or entrepreneur's digital footprint. This article delves into how an entrepreneur’s online presence can impact due diligence and the benefits of investing in digital PR.

Understanding Due Diligence in the Digital Age

Nobody wants to enter a transaction or transactional relationship without doing homework on the other parties. Due diligence is a process that involves gathering and analysing data and information to enable well-informed and sensible decision-making.

Startups undergo due diligence whenever the other party needs to identify financial, legal, operational and reputational risks associated with a potential merger or investment deal, for example. In these cases, due diligence looks at a company’s financial health, discovers undisclosed liabilities and helps potential partners understand its market position.

The Impact of Online Presence on Due Diligence

Someone’s digital footprint enormously impacts stakeholders’ perceptions during due diligence. There is a wealth of information available at the click of a button, from published financial accounts, online reviews and social media output to news articles. All of these influence a stakeholder’s perception.

While positive online interactions, particularly on social media and reviews, may leave a customer or potential business partner feeling good, 86% of people would think twice about purchasing from a company with negative online reviews. This illustrates the need for startups to cultivate a positive online footprint to help create favourable business deals, partnerships, employment opportunities and interpersonal relationships.

What Are the Elements of a Strong Online Presence?

Several elements make up a strong online presence. They include some or all of the following:

Professional Website

Creating a professional website is one cornerstone of a robust online presence. In addition to allowing businesses and entrepreneurs to employ positive digital PR by getting their message across to customers and prospective partners, an excellent professional website also creates trust and a sense of transparency by providing viewers with plenty of helpful information with a click of a few buttons. It can also make it easier for compliance teams from financial institutions to find out more about your business online. This is particularly important for startups that may be seeking funding or investment, for example.

Active Social Media Platforms

Social media is another critical tool in creating a strong online presence. An increasing number of startups recognise the power of social media and use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok to broaden their appeal across the broadest possible audience base.

Regular, consistent, authentic social media posting is essential to building positive digital PR. This will increase customer engagement, communicate visions and messages and provide greater insight into the organisation or entrepreneur’s day-to-day activities and values.

Positive Online Articles

Due diligence involves gaining as much information on a startup or entrepreneur as possible to help people make well-informed decisions about whether to partner, invest or engage. Positive online articles from independent third parties help create an upbeat and enthusiastic image that enthuses potential partners.

As an illustration, our company, PRNEWS.IO, consistently publishes press releases highlighting notable achievements, including when we were recognised with awards at the Go Global Awards. Similarly, when we were integrating our payments with a European-based payment system, they contacted us to gather information about our company, and an article documenting my meeting with the President of Estonia, Alar Karis, provided valuable support in establishing a positive reputation.

Digital PR Strategies for Managing Online Reputation

One of the best ways to manage and safeguard your brand reputation is to employ digital PR strategies focused on providing a complete and comprehensive online footprint that helps anyone undertaking due diligence to understand you or your business.

Effective digital PR strategies include:

Content Creation

Creating content to craft and share informative messaging across various platforms is an effective way to help build brand credibility, authority and visibility. Content comes in multiple forms, from bitesize social media posts to website landing pages, blog posts to guest articles, all of which aim to help promote and manage an online reputation.

Online Engagement

Meanwhile, online engagement is a digital PR strategy in which businesses or individuals actively engage with audiences via social media, online forums and comment sections. Responding to feedback, addressing concerns and participating in conversations helps build a strong, transparent online reputation.

Reputation Management

Once a positive reputation is built, reputation management involves proactively monitoring online platforms to maintain positivity around the brand. This includes responding quickly and effectively to criticism and acting on negative feedback. Fast and proactive responses are critical in maintaining trust and credibility.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) helps content and websites rank highly on search engines like Google. The higher a site or content ranks, the greater its credibility. Investing in SEO is a highly effective way of building and maintaining an online reputation.

Social Media Management

Social media is often a customer’s first port of call with any query or complaint. Therefore, businesses and individuals must manage their social media platforms to respond quickly to inquiries and complaints. The faster customers receive a response, the better their experience.

Online Crisis Response

Sometimes, things go wrong, and businesses must have a crisis management plan to respond quickly to developing crises. There’s no harm in admitting when things go wrong. Indeed, taking responsibility for mistakes can be a powerful way of showing authenticity. Showing accountability yet fast action and demonstrating that you’ve learned the lessons from their errors is a powerful tool in digital PR to build trust in a brand.

Examples of Successful Digital PR

In some cases, how businesses respond to crises can be as memorable as any well-crafted marketing campaign. In 2022, the online messaging company Slack suffered an outage that saw users unable to access the platform for nearly five hours. With many online organisations relying on Slack’s uniquely versatile nature, they responded quickly on social media, keeping users updated on the issue and their efforts to fix it.

Once the service was restored, Senior Staff Engineer Laura Nolan wrote a blog post outlining exactly what went wrong, steps taken to ensure there wouldn’t be a repeat and how it affected her personally. This transparency and acknowledgement that it also affected their staff helped Slack negotiate a potentially disastrous event to improve its credibility with users.

Online e-learning business Skillshare is another excellent example of a business with an exemplary online presence. In addition to helping over 115,000 students enrol in online courses to advance their careers, Skillshare’s superb affiliate program has seen YouTube, Instagram and TikTok influencers embrace the company’s ethos and increase awareness of its benefits.

Navigating Challenges and Risks

Managing online reputation in the digital age is fraught with challenges and risks. Misinformation can spread like wildfire across digital platforms, meaning that businesses and entrepreneurs can struggle to control narratives. However, the faster a startup adapts to negativity, the easier it is to regain control and use difficulties to their advantage.

Common pitfalls that must be avoided include ignoring negative or challenging feedback, manipulating an online footprint through fake reviews or astroturfing and failing to respond to problems quickly.

Strategies to help address these challenges while maintaining authenticity include:

  • Proactive Monitoring: Regularly monitor online conversations, mentions and reviews to identify negative sentiment early.
  • Prompt Responses: Quick responses to customer complaints or negative reviews and taking ownership are effective ways of regaining control of the narrative.
  • Consistent Messaging: Ensuring messaging is consistent across all digital platforms helps avoid potentially damaging confusion or contradictions.
  • Continuous Improvement: Review and tweak reputational management strategies based on feedback, trends and risk.


A startup’s or entrepreneur’s online presence enormously impacts due diligence. The more positive the digital footprint, the greater the credibility and trust in the company, which can lead to beneficial and prosperous partnerships and transactions being built.

Digital PR plays a critical role in this process by allowing entrepreneurs and startups to manage their online image, respond to criticism with honesty, transparency and empathy, and manage potential risks. Strategic digital PR efforts are increasingly indispensable to those seeking to navigate the complexities of due diligence in today’s interconnected online world.