It’s no longer a 24-hour news cycle. Fueled by the public’s insatiable appetite for scandal and by new media more than capable of satisfying the hunger, today’s news is minute-to-minute.

This creates a false sense of security for public figures and brands facing down bad PR. It‘s tempting to adopt an “ignore it and it’ll blow over” philosophy.

But, as evidenced by three recent cases, that is a dangerous mentality. In 2011, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Justin Bieber each learned that nothing slows the news cycle faster than a scandal. Taken together, their cases provide the perfect continuum of how and how not to react in a media crisis.

Taking a direct shot to his wholesome image, 17-year-old pop star Bieber was accused of being the father of an unborn baby in a paternity lawsuit.

Immediately, Bieber’s team put him in front of the cameras. Comfortable in the limelight, Bieber was the only one doing the talking. There were no spokespeople or lawyers. And he took the moral high road, never disparaging his accuser.

The result? Bieber’s wholesome reputation remained intact.

At the opposite end of the continuum we find Herman Cain. Even with ample warning of the accusations about to plague his presidential campaign, Cain’s team did not develop a plan. There was no strategy for how to mitigate the damage posed to his reputation by several sexual harassment accusers – and it showed as the accusations floated in the media for days, unanswered by Cain.

What Cain lacked in preparedness, he made up for in spokespeople. When he wasn’t talking, his lawyer, his campaign manager or his wife were going on the record. This may have been acceptable if they were consistent. They weren’t.

Cain also attacked his accusers. Doing so made Cain the villain in another classic “blame the victim” storyline.

The result? A suspended bid for the White House and a reputation damaged, most likely beyond restoration.

Rick Perry falls somewhere in the middle of our continuum. After a debate gaffe made him the most watched YouTube video for two days running, the presidential candidate faced a tidal wave of embarrassment. Like Cain, Perry was without a plan.

However, Perry sprang into action immediately. He changed course on the campaign trail to sit down with as many major media outlets as would have him.

More important than Perry’s quickness was the spirit of his message. With self-deprecation and humor, he admitted his mistake and reassured voters that he understood the problems of the country.

Like Bieber, Perry did his own talking. There was no campaign manager making excuses for him.

The result? A candidate who bought critical time to rehabilitate himself in subsequent debates.

Each of these cases proves that when your integrity is questioned, you have to react immediately. You need to assess the facts and be consistent in your messaging. And you need to be at least as aggressive as the media outlets that will spin this story with or without your input.

Robert Haus is vice president of PolicyWorks, a Des Moines public affairs firm. He served as chairman of the Rick Perry campaign in Iowa.