The evolution of social mediachannels and their ability to influence consumer perceptions is both a blessingand sometimes a curse for our clients.

On one hand, we’re lucky to beon the front lines during one of the most transformative periods in business -a time when consumers – and brands — are becoming more active and engaged inthe conversation.

Of course, it’s not allsunshine, rainbows and lollipops in the social Web.

As many companies havediscovered (usually the hard way), this greater accessibility and increasedparticipation online comes with its own unique set of challenges. 

This HuffingtonPost article from a few weeks ago details one such example – the launch ofa new, community-driven site called getunvarnished.com that bills itself as a resourcefor building, managing and researching professional reputation.

As the author suggests, socialsites such as getunvarnished go beyond serving as a place for people to promoteopinions. They can actually become breeding grounds for “brand snipers” to ventfrustrations and anonymously spread false rumors or innuendo about acompany or product. This is scary stuff.

Like any good crisiscommunications strategy, the solution is to act fast and to proactively utilizeall the traditional and non-traditional PR tools in our arsenal to ensure theright message is getting heard.

Like a good left tackle infootball, one of the most important responsibilities of PR is to protect ourclients from blind side hits. Every minute spent hoping a negative attack “justblows over” could have significant consequences down the line.

–Janet Tyler