Katherine's blog about SeaWorld discussed the problematic situation where controversial companies invite the public to make controversial comments through social media. SeaWorld recently did this when they started the #AskSeaWorld. The conversation was quickly dominated by activists who'd rather see #TheTanksEmptied.
I think Katherine's assessment of the social media team's handling of the negative comments was accurate: quite frankly, it sucked. If you're receiving negative social media attention, the best PR move certainly isn't fighting back, lest you reveal yourself as an aggressive idiot.
Sea World had the audacity to blame the negative tweeting on PETA, and didn't stop there. They blamed their opponents for ruining their publicity stunt. Complete lunacy.
If you're representing a company and a publicity stunt backfires, the best thing to do would be to squelch the fire--to stop the campaign. When a company fights back on social media, they are fanning the flames of controversy, which is really bad PR.
Some people think there is no such thing as bad publicity, or bad PR, but this certainly isn't true. Bad publicity, leads to public outcry, which leads to policy change, corporate action, or other serious consequences.
But as Katherine suggested, maybe an end to SeaWorld is deserved.