Julie Jimenez|Jul 26, 2012

This week, a series of incriminating photos of Kristen Stewart were unveiled that showed the starlet in a compromising position with her much older (and married) Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders.

Both parties quickly released statements admitting their guilt and apologizing for the pain they caused their significant others and, in Sanders’ case, children.

The statements were a bit unexpected, as usually cheating scandals in Hollywood are brushed under the rug, never to be seen again until paparazzi happen across another opportunity to get a million dollar shot.

Much like Stewart, companies sometimes find themselves in a predicament when an error is exposed, or about to be revealed, and there’s collateral damage associated with admitting guilt.

PR professionals will tell you that the golden rule of public relations is to tell it all, tell it first and tell it yourself. While this holds true in some cases, the same cannot be said in the face of a crisis.

rbb’s resident crisis management guru Bruce Rubin recently gave a presentation on the do’s and don’ts of crisis management, and here are some of his tips on how companies should deal with a crisis:

Evaluate the situation

Take a look at all the factors surrounding a potential crisis, and decide what course of action needs to be taken. Is the issue one that will affect millions, or a few select customers?  Should a mass statement be issued, or would a personal letter to those affected be more appropriate?

Stewart and Sanders’ statements may have been seen as a way to end the news cycle on the topic, but was this the best way to go about addressing the crisis?

Do no harm

Who is going to be affected by your actions from this point forward? In Stewart and Sanders’ case, their partners and families have been put into the spotlight even more since the release of the statements.

Companies, take note. While the intentions of these statements may have been true, the damage done by releasing them may only add fuel to the fire.

Call in the professionals

This is what crisis experts are here for – to help companies address a problem as delicately and effectively as possible. Companies should never be wary of relying on their public relations team for counsel and action when needed, especially for what may end up being a crisis.

While there is no doubt Stewart and Sanders’ teams helped develop and distribute their statements, the way the statements were written and the strategy behind this course of action call into question how effective this will be in ending the scandal.

What effect will this revelation have on Stewart’s film career, relationship and future in Hollywood? Only time will tell, especially with the premiere of the final Twilight film rolling around in November.

One thing is for sure: When dealing with a crisis, whether you’re a Hollywood “it” girl or Fortune 500 company, always think before you act.


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