When a business is successful and has a positive reputation, business owners certainly deserve whatever acclaim that comes their way. And while a steady, strong image may not make for flashy headlines, it is something to be celebrated because the truth is that things can change in the blink of an eye.

This was illustrated recently after a video of a United Airlines passenger being dragged off a plane went viral. In a matter of hours, the company took a major hit to its image, leaving the CEO in the difficult position of having to respond. In this case, he defended his employees and their actions, but that support may have jeopardized other relationships.

When responding to upsetting or negative information, business owners must proceed carefully, as the response will have an effect on the company, for better or worse.

Business owners must consider their shareholders. As noted in this article about the United Airlines debacle, the company’s stock dropped more than 4 percent in light of the video going viral, and it didn’t get much better after the CEOs response. Should that number continue to fall, shareholders may likely take issue with matters like leadership decisions.

Employee relations should also be prioritized. On one hand, supporting employees and standing by them is generally preferable to blaming people who were just following directions. On the other hand, failing to reprimand employees for misconduct can do great damage to a company’s reputation.

Business owners must also consider the relationship they have with their customers. Are there actions that will make people feel better about supporting the company? Can a company withstand losing a significant portion of their clients in response to unpopular decisions?

These are all relationships that must be considered when a difficult situation arises. In order to protect these and work to contain the damage, it can be crucial that business owners discuss their legal options and obligations with their attorney. Doing so can ensure that a company survives a dispute and is able to again focus on the future.