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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2008 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,500+
Estimated Readership: 17,000+


There was no safety issue at any time.

Qantas Airlines spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity, after an explosion blew a gaping hole in the side of one of their 747's, causing a loss of cabin pressure and forcing the plane to rapidly descend to 10,000 feet and then make an emergency landing.


The Crisis of the Unknown
By Steve Behm

It used to be much easier to fight the good fight. Democracy versus Communism. Pepsi versus Coke. Ying versus Yang. Not anymore.

Now, another epic battle is raging a mouse-click away in Cyberspace. Just log on to the discussion pages of Wikipedia, where an anonymous post has the same sway as a self-declared academic. Or go to a blog site that rails against a business or interest group - sometimes even a person - without any attribution. A quickie Google search turns up dozens of so-called scientific sites that fail to link to or refer to the methodologies behind their content.

Increasingly, disgruntled executives have watched as their online enemies hack away (sometimes literally) at what they have worked so hard to build. "Not fair," "dishonest," and "punks" are the clench-teethed words most often used to describe these vigilantes. The corporate reaction, like many failed dynasties of the past, tried to use old-school weaponry to fight back: They've filed defamation suits; they've hired a spy or private investigator to find out who is generating the content; or they've mimicked the anonymity of their adversaries and launched their own style of helter-skelter attacks.

But there's one problem: who are they really retaliating against? Before answering that, it's perhaps important to understand the impact anonymous posts on the Web can have. Sometimes, it's powerful. They can be crippling, annoying, or a distraction. It can undermine market confidence, not to mention consumer confidence. On the other hand, as stand-alone pieces of information hidden among millions of pages of online content, they don't have an impact. Attacks can be likes a rock sinking in the middle of an ocean of knowledge. Determine which case you're dealing with before you act.

Corporate responses to online anonymity have to follow the rules of a chess match, not checkers. Each website and online portal has different rules and attributes. So let's say you uncover the identity of an anonymous blogger - then what? They'll more than likely proceed to change screen names and start all over. Worse, if they were on a crusade before, they may now have a personal passion to do so. Think again with the end-game in mind. What's the most harmful consequence of what's being said online? It's the fact that it's been read by your key audiences: customers, partners, competitors, media or employees. So instead of retaliating against a person, retaliate against the bad information and clean it up.

How do you do that? Find the conversation and identify who is participating. Listen to what they are saying. Engage in the conversation in a transparent manner. Fully disclose who you are and ask others to do the same. If there is inaccurate information being posted to a site, refer people to another site that offers balance. Demonstrate your commitment to what is truly powerful - the online community - by offering stronger, more relevant information. Just be sure to tell people who you are when you do it.

Steve Behm,, is Senior Vice President, Crisis, Issues and Public Affairs, for Edelman Public Relations in Atlanta.

The Crisis Potential of a PO'd Techie

Workplace violence doesn't only take the form of crazed shootings. The City of San Francisco learned what can happen when an IT expert wants revenge — he locks up their system and swallows the virtual key.

Network administrator Terry Childs rendered the City's wide-area network unavailable to anyone else by changing passwords and refusing to release them — the system that handles city payroll files, jail bookings, law enforcement documents and official e-mail for San Francisco. The network is functioning but administrators have little or no access, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Do you have checks and balances in your IT administration to protect yourself from this type of crisis?

Crisis Management Blog

Readers may or may not be aware that I now have a moderately active blog -- at least active on my part! I welcome your participation as well as suggestions for topics you'd like me to address there.

I'm about to go on a two-week road trip with my wife in SC, GA and FL and may well just post short items and even photos to the blog in lieu of publishing an 8-15 issue, since we'll be gone until 8-19.

If you have a blog that is related, I'd be happy to talk about cross-linking!

Blogs I Find Useful

These are blogs I follow closely and at which I often enter comments. I think that most crisis managers would find them useful as well. In no particular order: for the latter, readers of my media training manual know the importance I place on learning means of being able to get "centered," often quickly, during times of crisis or pending difficult media interviews. Meditation techniques have been part of my personal experience in maintaining serenity when dealing with life on life's terms.


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

In addition to individual and business usage, the manual is now being required as a textbook at Seton Hall University, Grand Canyon University, and Singapore Management University, amongst others. It is available in both PDF and hard copy formats at, with reseller arrangements available for collegiate bookstores.

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

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, as are our other titles.

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