© 2007 Jonathan Bernstein
Estimated Readership: 15,000+
JUST A THOUGHT
If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read "President Can't Swim".
Lyndon B. Johnson
CRISIS MANAGER UNIVERSITY
FEMA Press Stunt Disgraceful & Plotters Should Be Fired
Editorial by Rich Klein
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which had built goodwill with its rapid response to the California wildfires, disgraced itself with its fake news conference and hurt those of us in the PR business who are committed to ethical behavior in all our dealings with the media.
The brilliant idea to have government employees pose as accredited reporters -- and basically locking out real reporters -- is an affront to the media and to those of us in public relations who advocate for transparency and honesty when communicating in a crisis. Journalists will now likely never trust anything FEMA says and those responsible for the fiasco should all be fired. But if FEMA fails to replace those responsible, then it will never be trusted again by the media and the public.
This is one of many examples of the Bush Administration bypassing the media with dishonest messages and taking them directly to the public. Guess this time the Mission wasn't Accomplished. Heck of a job, FEMA, heck of a job.
Rich Klein, President of Riverside Public Relations LLC (www.riversidepr.com) in New York City and Bethel, NY, has nearly 25 years of journalism and public relations experience.
Editor's Note: Rich wrote this editorial shortly after the incident occurred. To his credit, the head of the Homeland Security Agency, under whose banner FEMA now operates, later came out with a very clear condemnation of this tactic. "I think it was one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government," Michael Chertoff said. He assured the public that there would be "appropriate discipline." Privacy laws, of course, precluded him saying exactly what that discipline would be and against who, specifically, it would be directed.
Contest: The Best Analogy For Failing To Plan For Crises
Not having a car regularly looked over by a mechanic and getting necessary repairs is the same thing as deciding to risk a real possibility of having a serious accident.
Not getting teeth examined and cared for by a dentist is the same thing as deciding to - virtually inevitably - have either very painful and expensive dental surgery and/or a very painful mouth and jaw.
Not supervising your adolescent and teenage children in any way is the same thing as deciding that it's OK to put their lives at risk and give them the impression you don't care about them.
Not having homeowners' insurance is the same thing as saying, "I'm willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild or even more to buy a new home - or give up on home ownership."
Not having a crisis management plan in place, with training, before a crisis happens is the same thing as ________.
Fill in that blank with the winning answer and you will be awarded:
There will also be special recognition for the funniest, and possibly the strangest, entries.
By entering this contest you automatically give Bernstein Crisis Management, Jonathan Bernstein and "Crisis Manager" the right to reprint your contest entry, with attribution to you as the source. If you wish your organization's name used along with your name in credit lines, please indicate that with your submission.
A follow-up article will be published featuring the winners and, probably, some of the "honored runner-ups."
Submit your contest entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org no later than December 1, 2007. In the Subject Line put "BEST ANALOGY CONTEST".
Hazard And Security Activities Of The Transportation Research Board
Very interesting PDF version of a Powerpoint by a National Academies of Science division I'd previously never heard of.
CRISIS MANAGER BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENTS
Keeping The Wolves At Bay
Keeping the Wolves at Bay (available in print and PDF formats) remains, to my knowledge, the only commercially published media training manual in the world. It can be purchased at www.thecrisismanager.com, and its pages can be modified to make it YOUR "name brand" media training manual if you are an agency or organization that frequently conducts training. If the latter subject is of interest to you, write to:
email@example.com. $25 in hard copy, spiral bound/card stock cover and $10 as a printable PDF file.
Disaster Prep 101
Bernstein Crisis Management is pleased to present one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly family preparedness texts available today. "Disaster Prep 101." by Paul Purcell, goes above and beyond the simplistic "72-hour kit" concept and provides simple, yet detailed educational material that will drastically improve the ability of any family to respond to all manner of disasters or emergencies. This preparedness package contains over 400 pages of well-organized, original preparedness material written in an easy-to-understand, non-panic format; 80 pages of family data forms and worksheets (many of which are also useful to the employer); and a 2-CD set containing two interactive and searchable links collections for additional educational sources; all the family data forms and worksheets in softcopy format; and a complete emergency reference library of over 450 additional books and training manuals! US$59.95. Available here.
Training By Jonathan Bernstein
Media training. How to prevent crises and what to do when you can't. Why every employee is a crisis manager for the organization. How to integrate PR and legal strategy. These are just some of the types of training offered by Jonathan Bernstein on a national basis. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or call me at 626-825-3838.
Attention PR Agencies, Media Trainers, And Professors!
Agencies and trainers: If you do not have your own media training manual, you might like the fact that you can add your own name to the cover of "Keeping the Wolves at Bay: A Media Training Manual" AND you can add material (e.g., company background info) inside. This customization is subject to ordering at least 20 copies of the manual (at a quantity discount).
Professors: The manual is now being used as a textbook in PR and related courses. Arrangements can be made to provide it at a discount price to your classes or for the publication to be sold through your campus bookstore.
Everyone else -- you can, of course, purchase the manual and other educational/training materials at www.thecrisismanager.com.
Second Opinion And Spot Consulting
While I love to have clients with a wide range of needs, I'm quite willing and happy to provide spot consulting on an hourly basis. It's not uncommon for organizations to want just a second opinion about a breaking issue, or a quick review of their existing crisis preparedness plans. I keep such consulting very simple from a business perspective -- hourly fees for engagements under 10 hours are paid by credit card. Call (626) 825-3838 or write to email@example.com.
PLAIN ENGLISH DISCLOSURE
Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. has formal or informal co-promotional and mutually beneficial business associations with a number of the services we mention periodically in this newsletter. No, we can't go into details because that's confidential, proprietary, etc. But our relationship is NOT "arm's distance" and you should know that, since we regularly write about these services as we use them for crisis and issues management or other purposes. That said, you should also know that Bernstein Crisis Management sought the relationships because its staff is convinced that these services are the best of their kind for Bernstein Crisis Management's needs and those of its clients. If you have any questions about these relationships, please contact Jonathan Bernstein, (626) 825-3838.
ABOUT THE EDITOR & PUBLISHER
Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com, a national crisis management public relations agency providing 24/7 access to crisis response professionals. The agency engages in the full spectrum of crisis management services: crisis prevention, response, planning & training. He has been in the public relations field since 1982, following five-year stints in both military intelligence and investigative reporting. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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