In case you find yourself in the middle of a scandal or find yourself in the middle of a not-so-great PR, look no further than Hollywood heroes for advice on how to walk upright even after landing in hot water.

Robert Downey Jr. is this year’s comeback kid with a starring role in Iron Man. For the past 15 years or so, the only time you’ve heard his name was in connection with a drug bust or another failed stint in rehab. . Bloggers joked that the only costume you’d expect Downey Jr. to wear was the orange county jail jumpsuit. Now we see him disguised as the intense billionaire genius Tony Stark and enjoying his redemption.

Downey Jr. has learned to refer to his troubled years with a good deal of wit and self-deprecating humor. I’m sure his 4 years of sobriety have helped him move into a place of acceptance on this issue.

Okay, so what does this middle-aged Brat-Packer have to do with you?

Sometimes things happen in business that we cannot control. Your company may be involved in a sticky legal dispute, you may have shot a journalist without first involving your brain, or you screwed up big time in some unforeseen way. And God forbid you hit a rabid blogger who goes to town for publicly discrediting you.

Whichever way you look at it, it is not the most positive care for your business. So what do you do next?

Damage control starts with you. Here are some tips in case you get into some PR and need to get your good name back.

1. Recognize it.

Nobody wants accusations or accusations, that will make you look like a crybaby. Take the Harry Truman approach and tell people the responsibility is theirs. Your ego may need to grab one for the team, but you’ll come out stronger in the long run. You want to acknowledge a problem and reassure people that a solution is in the works, if it has not already been implemented. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg drew the ire of many last year with his inaction and ended up across the blogosphere because of it. (

2. Chin Up.

Mary Poppins offers some good advice if you think about it. Chin up means you’re saying, “Okay, I’m in the middle of a lot of shit, but I’m not going to let that get me down. I still have my dignity.” In this category, look at the spouses of high-profile people involved in the scandal. Name any in-laws whose husband was caught with his pants down (literally). Save your emotions for the therapist’s couch, but stay strong in public. You can always write a memoir that tells it all after the dust settles and make a fortune.

3. Do something nice to make up for it

On any scale, part of acknowledging wrongdoing must be expressed in action. Maybe you need to send someone a cute card with a sincere apology. Or perhaps a charity awaits you to regain your good name. Do something publicly to rewrite your story. People will remember your most recent acts, so make sure you keep paying with good deeds.

At some point, you will be able to look back and realize that a great lesson was learned through this. The ups and downs are what make leaders strong. Remember not to give up if something negative comes your way … go ahead with common sense and humility and then move on with your newfound wisdom.

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Nancy Marmolejo is a public relations, media and social media strategist who teaches women entrepreneurs how to generate more money and attention by positioning themselves in the spotlight. Nancy, an award-winning business owner, is frequently cited in the areas of business, creativity and social media. Get Nancy’s Free 7-Part Audio Course by visiting

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