The media -- free publicity, good or bad -- can be make or break for businesses. The rise of the Internet makes viral marketing even more vital. If you upset one customer, it's not just that one customer who's upset anymore.
I'll start with the good PR. On the one hand, blogger Zaz LaMarr wrote here about how online shoe retailer Zappos helped her out in a time of need. Great publicity. People are falling all over each other commenting in her blog on how they'll shop at Zappos from now on.
On the bad side of PR, this Mutts and Moms organization is bending over backwards to put itself out of business. If you haven't heard the whole story, click here. In a nutshell, an animal shelter has "repossesed" a dog because it doesn't like its new living arrangement. And the company has made it clear the customer is wrong. Not such great PR. And now everyone knows about it because of the Internet. There is an online petition to send the dog back home.
The Internet has made word of mouth way more powerful than it ever was. Seth Godin, who I think is great, blogged on the topic recently.