Sometimes, a PR crisis will land without warning. Your otherwise great day is ruined, and you find yourself struggling to respond when you have to react to everything coming at you from all different directions. But, if you are vigilant, there are ways to detour a PR crisis before it gets up to speed; to regain control of the narrative, and keep from driving your brand or career off a proverbial bridge.

Four tips from Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR a leading pr specialist in NYC:

Take responsibility

The first thing you need to do is take responsibility for the solution. This doesn’t mean you need to take responsibility for the entire situation – particularly when that situation may not be entirely (or partially) your fault. Sure, perception matters, but if you are perceived as taking some responsibility, it is much better than a blanket “I’m sorry.”

Maintain multiple outlets

In some PR crisis situations, you will find that some preferred media outlets will be closed to you. They may be getting massive hits by churning the crisis, or they may have taken the other side’s position in the issue. Whatever the reason, if you can’t get your message out through those channels, don’t waste time fighting it. Just be sure to have other avenues available to reach your audience with your message.

Listen and respond

When the time comes for dialog, be sure to actively listen and respond to customer and audience concerns. You may not agree with any or all of the issues presented, but don’t dismiss them out of hand. Engage, and show empathy. That will go a long way toward repairing any damage.

Keep it positive and solution based

One of the most important factors in fixing a PR crisis is to keep your message positive and productive. Don’t complain, or blame, or argue. Focus your message on making it right. People may attack someone when they are down, but most people really appreciate a solution and a redemption story. Focus on making positive progress, and communicate that message with appropriate empathy.

Managing a PR crisis is never simple, and rarely a quick and painless process. But, one thing is certain, the sooner you engage using the tips above, the sooner that damage can be repaired, and the sooner an even worse crisis can be averted.