PR can be a powerful weapon, but it is also a two-edged sword. Good PR can build your reputation in the community and better your chances at scoring new customers. Bad PR can damage your existing customer base and cost you much needed sales throughout the year. You can't really predict what kind of PR your company will receive, though, so it is best to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
If you keep track of your story tellers, chances are good that you will have an idea what kind of PR is coming down the pipe. Your story tellers will be the first to comment about your company's latest business activities and will be the first to speak up about outside press coverage. Likewise, any bad PR your company is involved in will likely originate amongst the story tellers. Listen to what they are saying, and you will be able to avoid a great deal of negative press.
Always keep a plan handy that will help you correct the effects of any bad PR. Having a contingency fund in your budget to handle product recalls or rebranding efforts will help you stem the effects of bad manufacturer relationships or misinterpreted market intelligence. Also, keep at least one person on your staff who can maintain perspective - consumers like honest companies. Don't try to spin negative PR in your favor; admit to your mistakes and invite the community to help you address the problem. When anyone is attacked, they move to the defensive - keeping someone on your staff insulated from the PR attacks will help your entire team keep an open mind about the issue.
Your story tellers will pick up on good PR almost immediately and will use it to fuel your sales. They will also pick up quickly on bad PR, though, so keep one ear turned to them at all times.
How have you handled bad PR in the past?