Yesterday, the International Tennis Federation announced that one of the world's highest-paid athletes would be suspended for two years. Maria Sharapova admitted to testing positive for meldonium, which is a medication that affects blood flow and athletic recovery time.

She claimed her violation wasn't intentional, but it's still hard to see one of the best players in the game receive a two-year suspension. And unfortunately for Sharapova, it goes even deeper than professional sports: She's also the face of the candy company Sugarpova.

When a scandal or crisis like this happens, your personal brand isn't the only one affected--any and all companies you're associated with are impacted, too. Negative press is something that's nearly impossible for a company to avoid for its entire lifetime. Fortunately, if you handle it the right way, you can regain control during a PR crisis and actually come out stronger than before. Here's how:

1. Own up to it.

This is a lesson I've learned is applicable in both business and personal matters. When I mess up with my wife and try to just brush past it like it was no big deal, you can bet it'll be brought up later. That's because it's hard to move past something until the person who messed up takes responsibility for his mistake.

Thankfully for Sharapova, it seems she has owned up to it; she admitted to using the medication. This gives the public a chance to accept that she knows she did something wrong--intentionally or otherwise. No one's perfect. Most people understand this. Addressing this first and foremost is the best place to start.

2. If you think doing nothing is the solution, you're wrong.

Something that's been disheartening for me has been witnessing the brand evolution of my alma mater, the University of Missouri. It's a great school with some impressive programs, and a lot of amazing things have come out of this university--but it seems like those achievements aren't communicated effectively. Since the issues that came to a head last year, it looks like the university is afraid to communicate with external audiences.

But not communicating won't solve your problem. These things don't just disappear; they'll resurface on anniversaries or when similar situations come up elsewhere. It's important to control the message around your brand during times like these and communicate how you're moving forward.

3. Proactively surround your brand with the content you want.

Scandals make headlines; often, that's all your audience sees when a crisis hits. All your top search results and brand mentions revolve around this crisis and reflect negatively on your brand. And if this negativity goes on for too long with nothing positive (or at least neutral) getting published, it can often leave your audience with a longer-lasting negative perception of your brand.

Reactively putting a content plan in place and publishing online can help during a crisis; as I mentioned, it's important to communicate during times like these. But being proactive about your reputation by surrounding your brand with great content--even when something bad isn't happening--can minimize the damage done when something bad does happen.

4. Create an army of influencers and brand advocates to have your back.

It's bad enough to hear someone say that your brand sucks, but it's even worse when nobody speaks out or stands up for you. Take HubSpot, for example. When Dan Lyons released his book, "Disrupted," criticizing HubSpot and its practices, he shone a pretty negative light on the brand. For all intents and purposes, he basically said, "Hey, HubSpot, you guys suck."

But because HubSpot had built an army of brand advocates and influencers, it had people who stood up in its defense. There were a lot of influencers who had HubSpot's back, and I was one of those people. I've been a brand advocate for HubSpot for a while, so when anybody tried to put it down, I had its back. And I had its back because it worked to earn that relationship with me, not buy my influence, which is something you should always do with influencers in your space.

5. Lead by example, and don't be scared to share what you learned with your employees.

The points above have been mostly focused on external audiences, but you can't overlook one of your most important audiences: your own employees. It can be hard to address your team and admit to screwing up, but you have to.

These people work their butts off for you, and they deserve to hear the truth about what's happening and what your next steps are. Like I said, people make mistakes. We're all human. Your team will understand that--and they want to work for leaders they can relate to. Just keep a positive attitude, and be as transparent as possible.

Scandals and crises are never easy to manage, and negative press can happen to any of us. But that doesn't mean it has to define your brand forever. To regain control and maintain the integrity of your brand, you have to admit your mistakes, keep communication open, and lead by example.