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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2009 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,500+
Estimated Readership: 17,000+


Real strength comes from being able to be wrong and from being willing to change our ways of thinking and living...real communication with other people depends on my being willing to see other points of view.

From "Day to Day" by the Hazelden Foundation


Plane Crashes Into Hudson

As I'm distributing this ezine, news is just in of the US Airways crash into the Hudson River, with initial reports that all passengers appear to have survived. My thoughts and prayers are with the passengers, crew and their loved ones and I hope that, in fact everyone's life has been spared. I'll be using my blog to comment on the crisis management of the situation — it's much too early to do so now. Pray first, analyze later.

A New Approach To Advocacy
By Stephen C. Rafe

When critics come at you hot and heavy in a meeting or a news-media interview, confronting them could polarize the situation and put you on the defensive. That scenario is unlikely to win support for you. The results of confrontational approaches are often akin to the outcome of the proverbial "wrestling with a pig."

More simplistically, even the following children's jingles have some value here:

  • "I'm rubber, you're glue: Anything you say to me bounces off me and sticks to you."

  • "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Or, how about the old popular song: "You gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, and don't mess with Mister In-between." The rest of the lyrics help underscore the point.

Instead, when you believe your position is justified and serves the interests of others, consider what I call the "advocacy" approach.

  1. Identify the "wronged" party - whomever will be disadvantaged if the critics prevail.

  2. Construct your response to support or even defend them.

  3. Respond with calmness and civility, courteously guiding your critics (whomever is seen as the "opposition") into acknowledging the "rightness" of the aggrieved parties' position.

Take the recent situation where one automobile corporation's executives were criticized for using corporate jets to fly to Washington, DC, to request billions of dollars in loans. While it might be tempting to point out that even federal officials use the equivalent of private jets, or to defend their actions based upon their own needs and interests, there is a better way, one that is even more effective (and logical) than their driving to Washington, DC, in automobiles on their next trip. And the response could have been delivered in less than 20 seconds. Here it is:

"Our decision to fly enabled us to get to Washington in hours, remain in constant contact with our business, and keep working, non-stop, on the best interests of every employee, shareholder, supplier, and customer who depends upon us. Given the state of our economy and our business, we owe that to everyone."

This response also follows two other important rules I have been teaching clients and audience members for nearly three decades. They are:

Keep It Short and Sweet

Paraphrasing an old "Timex" commercial: Take your licking and keep on ticking. The less you say, the less they can pick apart.

Focus on the positive

Don't give them anything to chew on. Avoid coming across as even remotely defensive or argumentative. Focus on the public interest. Some 25+ years ago, I advised a PRSA National Conference workshop that addressing the Five W's was no longer sufficient. I said: "We need to address the audience's unspoken questions — 'So what?', 'Who cares?', and 'What's in it for me?'" That concept is even more important today than it was then.

Stephen C. Rafe is President of Rapport Communications. Contact him at

He Said, He Meant, He Should Have Said
By Jim Lukaszewski

In the midst of this ongoing government investigation, Roy Watson, general manager of legal for Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, a unit of Japan's Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd., was quoted on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on November 4, 2008 in an article entitled "U.S. Probes Off-Road Vehicles After a String of Accidents."

He Said

"If you operate it carefully and use some common sense and good judgment, it's a really great product."

He Meant

"It's the customers' fault. If customers would just read the manual and then operate the vehicle accordingly, there would be safer handling overall. The customer is really to blame for these accidents. They're always pushing the equipment beyond its intended design capacity and capability. If you use any vehicle stupidly, bad things will happen. Customers need to pay more attention to owner's manuals and the instructions we provide at the dealership."

He Should Have Said

"We are deeply concerned about any accident that happens with our vehicles. We are fully engaged with the safe customer use of these vehicles.

We require each customer to spend 15 to 20 minutes being oriented to the vehicle and its features, the experience itself, and operating risks. We are, in fact, adding new safety features and expanding our customer safety coaching activities.

We support reasonable and helpful local regulation and oversight of our industry and the products we develop in the interest of public safety and confidence."

Reprinted with permission from Executive Action, Strategic Management Insights for Leaders, Decision Makers, and Their Trusted Advisors, January 14, 2009, copyright 2009 James E. Lukaszewski, All rights reserved. Subscribe Free at

Crisis Management Case History Contest
By Jonathan Bernstein

Do you have, or might you write, a crisis management-related case history worthy of publication in this ezine? Let me motivate you!

1. The authors of the first 15 case histories accepted for publication will be invited at no cost to an interactive Webinar about Online Reputation Management featuring your editor and SEO/Reputation management guru Chesa Keane of Tao Consultants.

2. 17,000+ people will read your case history when it first is published, then countless more will read it when it is archived, indefinitely, on my highly trafficked website.

3. The business links and URLs that you can include in the article "credit line" will — experience demonstrates — generate traffic to and improve the SEO of your website, as well as (my guest authors tell me) often generate business inquiries.


If you think you would be a highly credible interview subject for an article specifically related to Online Reputation Management, let me know why you think I should interview you. The piece will run initially in my new "REPUTATION MANAGEMENT ONtheLINE" column in the online magazine "Media Bullseye", and also will probably be reprinted elsewhere, again with the benefits mentioned above. If you'd like to read today's column, go here.

The first 10 selected will be the only other participants in the aforementioned Webinar, which will strive to give even experienced practitioners a higher level of knowledge and understanding.

Submit entries to and include CONTEST ENTRY in the subject line, please.


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