Once a major blunder has occurred, can your reputation be saved? With the proper steps, yes, it can. For those of us old enough to remember the Tylenol scare of 1982, we know that a brand can not only recover, but be stronger than ever.

But Tylenol had the luxury of only having to deal with three networks, some local stations and two national newspaper to spread the news. A 24-hour news cycle, blogs and social media have changed the game, and you have to be on top of your reputation every day.

As two “brands” found out this weekend, the benefits of social media — the speed in which your message can get out, the ability to communicate directly with your consumers and buyers, and the viral nature of the medium — can all work against you.

Motrin released a new video campaign on their website that quickly went viral on Twitter. Unfortunately, the conversations were laced with anger and came with its own hash tag, #motrinmoms.

Within 36 hours there were blog posts outside Twitter threatening boycotts, blogs dissecting the action, a You Tube video to commemorate the ad for eternity, offers of brand reputation counseling and advice, newspaper articles, a Facebook page, a website crash, an e-mail apology, an ad campaign pulled, and hopefully a group of people moving on. As of this morning, the following message was posted the homepage for Motrin.

In my world, during the same time frame, we had a legal marketer make a really bad Nazi elevator speech joke, which was then picked up by Legal Blog Watch. It was discussed on Twitter, in back rooms, and comments as to why we were offended added to both blogs. While the reporter issued an apology and updated her blog, the original poster only became more defensive. There are no calls to boycott, but I have heard various colleagues note that they will no longer present on the same panels and webinars, or contribute articles and content to his blog and listserv.

Motrin’s reputation will survive this advertising fiasco, and will most likely end up stronger in the end. But will the legal marketer’s reputation ever recover?