Disgruntled employees and customers, crises and accidents can all generate negative news stories.
Make sure employees know who to refer journalists' enquiries to and ensure that only employees who are authorised to do so respond to enquiries.
If a journalist contacts you, check their deadline, carefully construct a written statement, and respond in time. It usually doesn't look good if you refuse to comment.
Show you have done everything you reasonably could to correct any problems.
If there's a tricky follow up question, take time to put your case forward and restate it by written communication if possible.
It's not a good idea to go off the record when there's bad news. Answer truthfully to any questions put to you, although it's not your job to volunteer every detail.
Be aware that any response you give may carry legal implications. In the worst case scenarios it might be worth seeking legal advice before making any responses or consider making statements for the media through your legal representatives.