When you're done laughing, it's time to start thinking about what you would do differently. After all, what good are lessons in disaster if nobody learns anything from them? Here are some great lessons from a few of this year's biggest PR disasters:
1. Once is a mistake, twice is just dumb
You'd think Kenneth Cole would have figured out not to blithely pile on to hashtags after the Cairo fiasco. But no! They did it again! If something goes terribly wrong the first time you try, don't do it again to make sure it doesn't work.
2. Listen to Your Advisers
Full disclosure: I live in Toronto, so I've been watching the Rob Ford disaster with a weird mix of giddiness and shame. I think most important lesson to come out of this debacle (other than the obvious one, "don't smoke crack") is listen to your advisers. When the scandal was breaking last spring, there was an opportunity for the mayor to control the conversation and restore public faith by admitting his mistakes and going to rehab. But he said no, no, no and the rest is history. Don't hire people for their expertise and then ignore them!
3. It's not really a fine line between irreverent and disgusting
The c-bomb and nine-year-old girls do not belong in the same thought. Period. You know it's bad when The Onion faces an internet backlash so ferocious, they're forced to delete a tweet and issue an apology.
A wise man once said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." When you're managing your small business' reputation, remember you don't know what you don't know, and learn from the mistakes of others. And seriously, don't smoke crack.