Howard Rubenstein: “There are a hundred ways to say ‘No Comment'”

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Tainted meat. Killer pharmaceuticals. All in a days work for a crisis PR professional.

Maureen Farrell at Forbes looks into this most challenging of PR assignments, in a story featuring Rubenstein Public Relations founder Howard Rubenstein and Bill Keegan, director of crisis management at Edelman.

Some tips offered from the pros:

Be prepared: Monitor the conversation about your company or client in the media and online. Know where an issue is likely to come up.

Never use no comment: “There are a hundred ways to say ‘No Comment’ without saying that specifically,” says Rubenstein.

Act fast: News spreads fast. The longer you wait, the longer the story is framed and debated without your input.

Keep the big wigs front and center: This is not the time to delegate to underlings.

Stick to one or two spokespeople: Any more than that is confusing.

The good news? People will likely forget. Says Rubenstein, “The public’s institutional memory is very short, absent criminal or moral transgressions. [They] are ready to forgive.”