The power of social media paired with today’s instantaneous news cycle can really shine a spotlight on company mishaps.  Here are two of our favorites from last week and how they could have been avoided.

Camera-shy receptionist

A dangerous tree proved to be quite damaging to a St. Louis firm’s public image after a local station picked up the story.

While reporting on a story about a resident who had repeatedly tried to contact Roberts Brothers Properties about the tree, KSDK reporter Mike Rush paid their office a visit.

Rather than buzzing the reporter in and alerting a company representative, the receptionist hid under her desk for half an hour. Not only does this response imply guilt, but it also gives the reporter a much more interesting story. See the video here.

PR Lesson: There are two things business owners can take away from Roberts Brothers Properties mistake. The first is the importance of basic media training for all employees. Receptionists and lower-level employees are usually the first ones contacted by reporter because they tend to know more and say more. Employees should be briefed on media procedures for a variety of situations – good and bad.

Carnival’s PR nightmare

Carnival is no stranger to PR problems with the latest coming from last week’s Triumph fiasco.

The media handling of the nightmare vacation has been widely criticized, but thing that struck us most was the way Carnival CEO Micky Arison handled the incident. Arison, who also owns the Miami Heat, was spotted taking in a game while passengers and crew dealt with less-than-optimal conditions.

PR Lesson: Public Relations is all about perception and marketing experts know the public is more likely to judge an organization on how it handles a problem than how the problem came about.

Business owners should consider how their actions look to customers, especially disgruntled ones. Few will ever experience something as massive as the Triumph, but, in the age of social media, something as simple as blatantly ignoring a line of frustrated customers can damage a brand’s reputation.

(Source: Poynter.orgBostonglobe.com)