…but only if you are aware it is there to begin with.

Browncoats misbehavin'This is the cast of Firefly, a wonderful show that the fates of television dealt a losing hand.  The characters and storyline were recently resurrected in a theatrical release, Serenity.  The creator, Joss Whedon, has hinted that it might come back if someone will back it.

Well, now the “browncoats” are “aimin’ to misbehave,” and it appears a couple of them have.  The pair from San Diego started a website pitching for donations to raise the millions of dollars it would take to finance a miniseries or a new season.

With little buzz, the site raised less than $1,000 in two days before shutting down collections and returning the money.  Could it be that Whedon didn’t like what appeared to be a weak posture, and asked them to stop?  Or maybe the thought of raising a substantial sum but not getting quite enough would be awkward?  Either way, there were a lot of ways this could reflect badly on Whedon, and not very many good outcomes.  (This is what I preach, trying to stay in a Positive Position.)

Companies with a reputation to maintain need to monitor the internet, and it doesn’t just end with the public relations department maintaining a clip file.  The above case was scuttled in a matter of days, avoiding a lot of potential embarrassment — even from those who are well-meaning.

We faced a similar circumstance recently within the American Red Cross:  a producer made a public pledge on national television that he would give 100% of the profits from the sales of certain videos to benefit Red Cross Disaster Relief.  When you’re faced with a billion-dollar project, that kind of news is welcome.  Unless the gift is coming from Joe Francis, the entreprenuer behind “Girls Gone Wild:

“Year after year the city of New Orleans and its citizens have welcomed us with open arms, and we have looked forward to our yearly trip to the Big Easy. The utter destruction of New Orleans and many parts of the Gulf coast truly saddens us,” said Joe Francis, founder and CEO of Girls Gone Wild, in a statement.

The Mardi Gras-themed DVDs and videos include such titles as “Mardi Gras 3-Pack,” “Mardi Gras 2K4,” and “Girls Gone Wild Doggystyle” with rapper Snoop Dogg.

With friends like that, your reputation doesn’t need enemies.