When things go south, PR people do one of two things: A) panic, and do as their told, which usually means crafting a "CYA" response or B) take a strong position, take responsibility for mistakes made, and do what you can to make sure that people know you're leveling with them. The role of PR people isn't to lie to the press or to the public. It's to be the voice of the reporter and/or public internally at an organization, so that when a figure head speaks, the message makes sense and has universal appeal.
HP's Chief chose plan B, and the press seem to be buying it. Probably the most powerful piece of this press conference was his own admission of guilt... taken from Langberg's article below:
"Second, Hurd didn't let himself off the hook.
He cited a March 2006 report that described the tainted investigative methods.
The report was ``addressed to me and others, but I did not read it,'' Hurd said. ``I could have, and I should have.''
That's a significant confession, especially given that California's attorney general is threatening to file criminal charges."
Photo is from the Mercury article (link below) Langberg: CEO takes charge, stops the bleeding By Mike Langberg Mercury News