In The Spotlight

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Managing negative publicity.

It's not fair, but it's true: Perception of your company can hinge on a singleincident. And it doesn't matter what else you've done, says Michael L. Herman,president of Epley Associates Inc., a public relations firm in Charlotte, NorthCarolina. Here's how to turn a negative situation to your favor:

Think before you speak. Be sure you understand the situation, as well as anyother related aspects of your company, before you speak publicly, advisesHerman.

Provide a frame of reference. "Remember, [people] don't know what youknow about your company," Herman says.

Don't try to hide. Be honest about what happened, why it happened andwhat you're doing about it.

Get some training in dealing with the media. Your spokesperson needs tolook and sound as professional as your best marketing materials, Herman says.Designate and train him or her before any crisis occurs.