Mistakes, bad luck and unexpected events can happen to any firm during good times and bad, but tackling misfortune in a forthright, brutally honest manner rather than trying to sidestep unpleasant truths can mean the difference between a small crisis and a full-blown public relations nightmare.

"People are looking to us. They want to know what we think," said Stephen Barrett, chief marketing officer and managing director of Eaton Vance Distributors, speaking at the National Investment Company Service Association's East Coast regional meeting in Boston. "It's absolutely crucial we communicate with everybody as quickly as we can. Out in two days and very good is much, much better than out in five days and perfect."

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