Bernstein Crisis Management. Crisis response, prevention, planning, and training.

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2008 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,000+
Estimated Readership: 15,000+


Readers will remember that the first "Crisis Management Lesson Learned" in the last issue was:

"We have probably not seen the end of food and product-related crises originating in the People's Republic of China. Any organization with relevant connections to the PRC should factor this into their crisis preparedness."

I really hate being right this way, but the NY Times just reported that Chinese Dumplings sickened 175 in Japan. CNN reports a much smaller number, but my recommendation stands for any organization doing business with China.

Jonathan Bernstein


Editor's Note: I was delighted to read this piece in a publication by Vuma Corporate Reputation Management and quickly requested and received permission to share it with "Crisis Manager" readers. I've been looking, in vain, for opportunities to work with the highly skilled Janine Hills, something I'm sure will happen in the future.

What Does Reputation Management Mean To You Personally?
By Janine Hills

Your reputation can:

  • Make or break you
  • Build a company today and can just as easily ruin it tomorrow
  • Get you your dream job and lose it just as fast
  • Open doors and slam them shut
  • Make you walk tall, then bring you to your knees

What is the common denominator? EGO.

Our ego is innately part of who are. We need to manage it. To make it work for us. To understand it, acknowledge it and not disrespect it.

As is the case with money, we need to respect ourselves and manage ourselves.

In understanding our EGO, we will uncover our reputation. This also applies to large blue chip companies, a CEO or ordinary individuals.

Your reputation will be measured by:

  • What others think of you
  • What their perceptions are of your business
  • If they are prepared to conduct business with you
  • If they like you
  • Their respect for you as a leader
  • Their respect for your business practices and ethics

All too often in life we wait for a disaster to happen and then take reactive measures to correct the situation. The same can be said about crises in organisations. WHY?

You need to take a moment to stop and think about how you can improve yourself. Look within yourself and your business.

It is important to realise that no one is perfect, no organization is perfect...but if you make a commitment to change and improve just a few small elements will be surprised by your fresh new approach to your employees, customers, suppliers and more importantly yourself.

To achieve this you need to start with the small things:

  1. Thank people
  2. Provide regular honest communication to employees
  3. Create a crisis plan to pre-empt a potentially damaging situation and always have a plan B
  4. Provide regular honest feedback to media
  5. Ensure key spokespeople have been media trained
  6. Hold quarterly reputation management-focused sessions within your organization
  7. Apologise if you are in the wrong
  8. Provide a solution for the problem
  9. NEVER miss a deadline
  10. Don't over-commit. Rather, over deliver
  11. Be warm, empathetic and approachable at all times

Communication skills have always been sold as a soft issue to serious businesspeople. If that were true, why is there a direct correlation with the JSE share price of a listed company and its reputation in the marketplace?

We just need to name a few — the Enron Group, the JD Group, Harmony Gold — to know that statement is so outdated. Our globe has changed. We need to be thinking ahead. Forward thinking is vital to our success. This applies to how we drive a car on a highway, the job we choose, the company we run or with whom we choose to spend the rest of our lives.

Communication elements need to be included in each and every business case...not at the end, but right up front.

Business drives organizations, but if you cannot communicate with your team to implement it, or give a brief to an agency to advertise or succinctly explain your product or company and what you stand for in two-minute elevator speech, what is the use of spending millions on branding and building a company?

It is well documented that a company's assets are its people, so let us up the value of communication, talk to each other and share and impart rather than directing, instructing and selling.

Make those small changes today and your reputation will grow over time. Lay the seeds for tomorrow. You never know when you will need the fruits of your hard work.

Janine Hills is the CEO of Vuma Corporate Reputation Management, a crisis and reputation management firm based in South Africa.

Crisis Manager Turns Eight

The first issue of "Crisis Manager" was published on February 1, 2000 and is still archived on our site.

The feature article was...

"A Crisis Management Case History: The Internet as Catalyst for Crises"

...a relatively novel idea then, but not now! Every issue of Crisis Manager remains archived on the Bernstein Crisis Management website and permission to reprint is usually given.

Editor's Note: Thanks to reader Patricia Lu for calling my attention to this skillfully wrought crisis management press release. I did a little more online digging about the event, however, and found that there were some mistakes preceding this announcement.

Ocean Beauty Seafoods Profoundly Regrets Bald Eagles Killed in Kodiak
Press Release Followed by Editorial Comment from Jonathan Bernstein

SEATTLE, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC wishes to express the profound regrets of everyone in our organization for the tragic incident in which several eagles died as a result of attempting to feed on a truckload of fish waste. We are doing everything in our power to ensure that the surviving birds get all available care.

"About 28 birds were rescued, and their prospects look good," said Gary Wheeler of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Wildlife workers in Kodiak were originally going to continue to care for the birds, but a bird biologist with the International Bird RescueResearch Center recommended sending the birds to the rescue center in Anchorage instead. "The folks there have more expertise," Wheeler said.

So far Ocean Beauty has donated $5,000 to the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage, to assist with the cost of care and heating fuel to keep the center at the needed temperature for the eagles' rehabilitation. "We are working to do everything within our means to help with the care and recuperation of the eagles, and intend to see this through until the birds are released back into the wild," said Ocean Beauty President Mark Palmer.

Ocean Beauty is also sending fish to the center to feed the birds during their stay. In addition to these donations for the Anchorage center, Ocean Beauty is giving $2,000 each to three other raptor centers in Alaska. "We can't bring them back to life, but we will do all we can to help these magnificent eagles have the best chance of survival in the wild all across Alaska," said Palmer.

Ocean Beauty has operated their Kodiak plant for over forty years, and this is the first incident of substantial bird interference and death in that time. The truck in question was leaving Ocean Beauty's Kodiak facility en route to the Kodiak fishmeal plant, where Ocean Beauty has taken fish waste for nearly thirty years. All of Ocean Beauty's standard procedures for this waste transfer were followed, which include covering the load for the journey to the meal plant. This procedure has been to pull the trailer with the waste out of the plant, then cover while still in the driveway. In this case the birds went to the waste trailer before the cover could be applied.

"Our procedures have been strengthened over time, to include covering the loads," says Palmer, "but clearly they need further strengthening. We are in the process of reviewing and changing these procedures to ensure that such an incident never happens again. We are in dialog with the federal, state, and local authorities, and will craft these new standards and procedures using their input."

Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC has been in the Alaska seafood industry for nearly 100 years, and is one of Alaska's largest seafood processors, operating seven shore side plants across Alaska.

But what preceded this beautifully crafted release, which said "all the right things"?

The first AP story was on January 11, the day of the incident, and included this sentence: "Requests for interviews from Ocean Beauty officials were not returned."

Similarly, the AP follow-up story on January 13 reported: "A call to the Ocean Beauty Seafoods plant was not returned."

Even though it was clear, by that point, that the investigation was going in the company's favor, quoting a Fish and Wildlife official as saying: "It's pretty obvious in this case nobody intended to break the law. The seafood plant has been very responsive and cooperative."

The company didn't say anything (that I can find) to the media for four days, an eternity in a world of instant global communication. During that time, the news of the incident did, in fact, get carried by news organizations and blogs worldwide, with one blog, on January 12, stating that "At least 19 Bald Eagles drowned in 'fish waste' in Kodiak, Alaska because of the sloppy ass practices of the Ocean Beauty Seafoods plant."

There was no need for the company to take that kind of damage. Even while facts were still being gathered, it could have spoken about its high level of cooperation with the investigation, about the practices it had put in place to prevent this kind of incident, and -- probably most importantly -- it could have expressed the compassionate regret which ultimately appeared in its press release.

My guess is that, after floundering around for a day or two, someone at the company recruited a talented PR consultant to help them out, resulting in the January 15 release. Better late than never, of course, but it's always sad to see what appears to be generally good organizations cause themselves more harm through delay and inappropriate non-response.


Internet Counter-Intelligence CD-ROM

In a one-hour teleseminar recorded in December 2007, search engine optimization expert Diana Huff interviewed Jonathan Bernstein, a pathfinder and innovator in the field of Internet-centered crisis management, who described how a wide range of companies have been damaged by the Internet's virtual terrorists, and how some companies have been responding effectively.

In this one-hour session, you'll learn how to conduct your own Internet vulnerability audit; develop strategies for identifying your foes -- activists, disgruntled employees, or unhappy customers -- and tracking Internet chatter; build the case within your organization for ensuring someone is monitoring the blogosphere, news, and Internet forums every day; plan for an Internet crisis and, when one hits, assess the situation to determine an appropriate response; develop the action steps you can take to neutralize attacks, including starting your own blog and developing collateral such as brochures, video, podcasts, and Web links to other reputable and informative sites; and effectively use search engine optimization tactics -- not just because you want customers to find your products -- but so you can beat these guys at their own game!

Available at

Keeping the Wolves at Bay 3.0 Reviewed

"Keeping the Wolves at Bay" is much more than another media training guide - it is perhaps one of the most concise, insightful, useful and savvy guides to strategic thinking about reputation issues available.

Gerald Baron
Founder & CEO of PIER System and host of

"It's like a Swiss Army knife -- lots of cool tools in a compact package. In case of emergency, grab this."

Steven R. Van Hook, PhD
Publisher, About Public Relations

The spiral-bound print manual is available for $25, the PDF version for $10. Both can be ordered at

Jonathan Bernstein also offers on-site media training worldwide, using this manual as the basis for training. Write to

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.


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.


Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.,, 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


GUEST AUTHORS are very welcome to submit material for "Crisis Manager." There is no fee paid, but most guest authors have reported receiving business inquiries as a result of appearing in this publication. Case histories, experience-based lessons, commentary on current news events and editorial opinion are all eligible for consideration. Submission is not a guarantee of acceptance.


When I find a site that I think will be useful to my readers or site visitors, I put it on our Links page. If you have a site that would be of specific use to crisis managers and want to discuss a link exchange or other cooperative effort, please write to me,


All information contained herein is obtained by Jonathan Bernstein from sources believed by Jonathan Bernstein to be accurate and reliable.

Because of the possibility of human and mechanical error as well as other factors, neither Jonathan Bernstein nor Bernstein Crisis Management is responsible for any errors or omissions. All information is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Bernstein Crisis Management and Jonathan Bernstein make no representations and disclaim all express, implied, and statutory warranties of any kind to the user and/or any third party including, without limitation, warranties as to accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose.

Unless due to willful tortuous misconduct or gross negligence, Jonathan Bernstein and Bernstein Crisis Management shall have no liability in tort, contract, or otherwise (and as permitted by law, product liability), to the user and/or any third party.

Under no circumstance shall Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein be liable to the user and/or any third party for any lost profits or lost opportunity, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, or punitive damages whatsoever, even if Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

A service of this newsletter is to provide news summaries and/or snippets to readers. In such instances articles and/or snippets will be reprinted as they are received from the originating party or as they are displayed on the originating website or in the original article. As we do not write the news, we merely point readers to it, under no circumstance shall Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein be liable to the user and/or any third party for any lost profits or lost opportunity, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, or punitive damages whatsoever due to the distribution of said news articles or snippets that lead readers to a full article on a news service's website, even if Bernstein Crisis Management or Jonathan Bernstein has been advised of the possibility of such damages. Authors of the original news story and their publications shall be exclusively held liable. Any corrections to news stories are not mandatory and shall be printed at the discretion of the list moderator after evaluation on a case-by-case basis.


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Articles in "Crisis Manager" were, unless otherwise noted, written and copyrighted by Jonathan Bernstein. Permission to reprint will often be granted for no charge. Write to