One of television’s all-time favorite holiday episodes was the Thanksgiving episode of the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati”. If you’re not familiar with the late 1970s show, it’s about a mom and pop radio station which switches from a dull elevator music format to rock and roll, with a young Program Director, Andy Travis (played by Gary Sandy) and a change-resistant staff and General Manager.

In the episode, things are going reasonably well with the format change, but General Manager Arthur Carlson, (played by the late Gordon Jump) is feeling a little left out. Everyone is doing their job, things are going well, but Carslon decides he wants to get his hands dirty, much to the chagrin of the staff. Without telling anyone, he and hapless sales manager Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner) hatch a turkey give-away at the Pinedale Shopping Center. Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), reports as turkeys are released from a helicopter, and “they’re hitting the ground like bags of wet cement”! If this had really happened, and it was today, can you imagine reading the comments on the WKRP Facebook Page? Twitter users might call it #turkeygeddon! Something like that happening in 1979 would be a local PR disaster. Today it would be an instant worldwide PR disaster.

I can think of a couple of real-life PR disasters this year. The BP Oil Spill is at the top of the list. There was even a fake BP Twitter account set up. Could all the public relations dollars in the world fix that black eye? Earlier this year, Nestle’s Facebook and Twitter accounts were stormed by environmental activists objecting to Nestle’s use of Palm Oil. This holiday season, how would you like to handle Public Relations for the almost-universally hated TSA?

What are your favorite PR disasters….or turkey drops gone wrong?

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