Crisis Manager On The Spot Returns!

Erik Bernstein crisis expert

Join us for quick pro tips from real crisis management consultants

We’re bringing back a popular Bernstein Crisis Management series of short, informative blog posts, “Crisis Manager On The Spot”! These will typically feature questions for a crisis management consultant or other crisis-related expert, submitted by curious readers and our own team, followed by the interviewee’s off-the-cuff replies. No pre-built sound bites or quips here, just us putting real live crisis managers on the spot!

Today we have a couple of quick questions that we sprung on our very own founder & chairman Jonathan Bernstein, but it won’t be all Bernstein Crisis Management consultants in this series! Stay tuned for interesting interviews with a variety of our friends, colleagues, and fellow pros.


Q: A reporter who’s always played fair with our company really wants to interview our CEO about nasty rumors that have some basis in fact. She’s on a tight deadline. Should we do it?

CM: All things being equal, you want to do what you can for a friendly reporter. BUT…don’t let a reporter’s deadline push you into responding more quickly than you can prepare for, and never assume that a “friendly when news is good” reporter will cut you any slack when news is bad. She might…or might not. Management should start thinking about what they might say publicly as soon as they know negative news might get out, even if it’s months in advance, so it takes less time to prepare for a constructive interview. If you’re not prepared in advance, tell the reporter that you appreciate her interest and that you’re still gathering information necessary to give an accurate interview. As the media is usually a useful means of reaching some of your audiences, get back to the reporter when you’re ready to talk.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake any company can make with regard to crisis management preparedness?

CM: Not being prepared! It’s astounding how many companies prepare for physical emergencies (fire, earthquake, etc.), have succession plans, have computer-crash plans, but do not have a crisis management plan. As a result, their response to PR crises is slowed dramatically, resulting in more damage.

Think you have someone who would be fun for a (very) quick interview? Send suggestions our way (or submit yourself!) at