With the intense scrutiny the media applies to every little news item, you have to be prepared to act quickly and decisively if a negative story about you or your company breaks. You have to have a plan in place now so you can respond immediately and in an orderly fashion. If you're not prepared and respond inappropriately, the media will eat you alive and the story will explode like a nuclear bomb.
Last week the story about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer broke. The news about his membership in the Emperor's Society spread like wildfire. Spitzer was seeing a call girl named "Kristen" for years and spent over $80,000, much of it tax payer money. Pictures of "Kristen" or Ashley Dupre were on the internet almost immediately. Instead of denying the allegations, Spitzer responded immediately and announced his resignation within days. He admitted his mistakes immediately and didn't try to run from the truth. Spitzer's political career is over and he may face jail time but he didn't drag the issue out. He immediately cut his losses and moved on to try to repair his relationship with his family.
On the other hand, Roger Clemens has made a mess of his life. When Major League Baseball released their report on steroid use and implicated Clemens, he immediately began denying all charges. His trainer testified that he shot him full of steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) on numerous occasions. Clemens denied any wrongdoing in his testimony to Congress and now may face perjury charges for lying under oath.
Others like Barry Bonds, have remained silent on the situation and are trying to stay out of the limelight. Sure Bonds is guilty as hell but he's not denying it or defending himself in the media. He's letting the judicial system take it's course while trying to remain in the background. Obviously Bonds hired a good PR person that is guiding him through the process. Clemens on the other hand has both feet in his mouth and thinks that if he keeps yelling louder than the charges will disappear.
Make your plan now because even if you're a small company negative press can destroy you instantly. The internet and text messaging have changed the world. Instantly negative press can spread worldwide even if it's not true and repairing the damage takes a well thought-out plan of action that needs to be implemented immediately.