Hmmm. Great post, Gini. There's a terrific episode of my favorite show, The Good Wife, which is as you know set in your home town of Chicago. In the episode, Eli Gold, who runs political campaigns and crisis communications, advises the client to face a PR disaster with great advice, like "come clean immediately," and "say you're sorry." Then the lawyers get involved, and say, "not so fast." I think that there are two kinds of crises faced by businesses. Actors posing as other people.... probably not actionable although I am not an attorney so I can't say for sure. Susan G. Komen withholding funds from Planned Parenthood, not actionable. But Penn State?
If you find yourself in a communications mess, I'm sorry to say, your first call should be to your lawyer, and then to your communicaitons expert. I wish it were otherwise.