The Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management
 Editor: Erik Bernstein
 Publisher: Jonathan Bernstein

"For Those Who Are Crisis Managers,
Whether They Want to be or Not"

2011 Jonathan Bernstein


Volume XII, Number 6

July 7, 2011  



Too many not-for-profits, when in crisis, end up hoisted on the petard of their members' fear and indifference.


                           Jonathan Bernstein     





Computer hacking has made front page news over the past month, with Sony, PBS, and even the CIA among the major victims. The infamy that groups like the now-disbanded Lulzsec has gained is sure to spark splinters and copycats as well. Far too many of us take our functioning Internet services for granted, are you prepared to be shut down? 


On that note, emergency management exercises are one of the best ways to test the limits of your organization, and this week we share with you an excerpt from Regina Phelp's book, appropriately entitled, Emergency Management Exercises: From Response to Recovery, along with BCM President Jonathan Bernstein's own review. Following that is a discourse on the lack of proper crisis management training among Hollywood agents and lawyers, from author and crisis management expert Rene A. Henry. 


Then, if you'd like to get crisis management analysis of breaking news and issues on a more frequent basis, be sure to check out the links to our three blogs, in the right-hand column of this ezine.


As always, if you like what you see, please share it with others by using the "Forward Email" link at the bottom of the ezine and tell them to subscribe!  IMPORTANT NOTE: If you just "Forward" using your own email program's "Forward" function and your recipient thinks they're being spammed, they can click on the Opt Out link and opt YOU off the list. So use the "Forward Email" link, please.  



My best to all,



By Jonathan Bernstein  
We're very pleased to bring you both a review of, and excerpt from, Emergency Management Exercises by Regina Phelps, RN BSN, MPA, CEM. If all the initials after her name don't convince you that she knows her stuff, take it from me that this is the single most useful publication on this subject that I've seen in my almost 30 years of crisis management experience. When you're a more "mature"Emergency Management Exercises Cover practitioner (I prefer "mature" to "older than dirt"), it's unusual to learn something new in your field - but in this book, Regina has taught me a lot that I intend to use for the benefit of my clients.

I chose the following book excerpt, "Your Roadmap - The Exercise Plan" as something (a) immediately useful to you and (b) a fine example of how Regina makes a sometimes daunting process, conducting drills/simulations, simple enough for those who aren't crisis management pros to understand.

We'll be blogging about this piece too, and would welcome your comments at the Bernstein Crisis Management blog when we do so.



Your RoadMap - The Exercise Plan

By Regina Phelps


The Big Question

There is one question you want to ask yourself, your colleagues, your design team, and others over and over again during the design process.  This question will help you stay on track and on vision from start to finish:  Why are we doing this exercise?  Don't be turned off by the simplicity of that question, the answer holds the key to your exercise. 


Regina Phelps Headshot

Regina Phelps

I started asking this simple question when I noticed how easy it was for people to get caught up in the excitement of the design. The team would be so fully engaged in the process that the next thing you know, we had Martians landing in the middle of the exercise (as a metaphor or course), and we were adding things that didn't meet the mission.  Or perhaps someone has a deliverable - or even a covert agenda - and they want to see if the exercise can deliver on it. If you're not alert, they can insert something into the exercise that is, again, off-mission. Be alert, and keep asking Why are we doing this exercise? to avoid filling your exercise with things that don't meet your objectives and can end up derailing the experience.


After one such exercise that seemed to deteriorate into a participant's personal agenda, I came up with the idea of asking Why are we doing this exercise?  As a regular part of the planning process. When it seems like the exercise is heading in the wrong direction, or the group's enthusiasm is taking us into fun - but not necessarily helpful - territory, or I question someone's agenda, I just ask the simple question, Why are we doing this exercise?  The discussion that inevitably follows helps to realign the energy and makes sure we are delivering on the exercise objectives.


When embarking on the design process, this simple question can also help you:

  • Determine what type of exercise will likely deliver the best results.
  • Develop the exercise goal, scope, and objectives.
  • Assist you in determining which narrative will yield those results
  • Keep you and the design team on track.
Now that is a pretty handy question to ask!

Exercise Type
What type of exercise are you creating?  I always ask myself three questions to help me decide which type is the best:
  • The first question is always Why are we doing this?
  • Second question:  What is the maturity of the program and the plan?
  • Third question:  What is the experience level of the team being exercised?
Once you have the answer to those questions, you should be able to determine which exercise type will yield the best results:
  • Orientation
  • Drill
  • Tabletop (Basic or Advanced)
  • Functional
  • Full-scale
  • Multi-site
Emergency Management Exercises can be purchased at the following locations:


Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3mlx5nn 

Chandi Media: http://www.chandimedia.com/ 

EMS Solutions Inc: http://www.ems-solutionsinc.com/books.html 

Rothstein Associates Inc: http://www.rothstein.com 

Regina Phelps is an internationally recognized expert in the field of emergency management and continuity planning. Since 1982, she has provided consultation and educational speaking services to clients in four continents. She is founder of Emergency Management & Safety Solutions, a consulting company specializing in emergency management and continuity planning. A partial list of clients includes Liberty Mutual, Northern Trust, VISA, MasterCard, PG&E, McAfee, Triton Container, Intuit, International Paper, Bank of Canada, IMF, Stanford University, Duke University, American Express, Gilead, IMF, AEGON, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).


By Rene A. Henry

Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.  With a proliferation of crises involving entertainers and sports stars I believe you can add agents and PR flacks to Shakespeare's wish list.

The people who are paid to protect their clients and give them the best possible advice, all too often are just not qualified to do so.  I spent a significant part of my professional career in both entertainment and sports and know that very few Hollywood lawyers, agents and publicists are experienced in crisis management and communications. That's why when crises happen and exacerbate with one public relations faux pas after another, things just get out completely of control - all at the expense of the client.

When celebrities get in trouble it is a magnet for the media.  Even the least little incident will be considered headline news by many media outlets. Most politicians fall into the same crisis arena as celebrities. 

High profile corporate executives, however, are generally better prepared by having on staff highly capable public relations professionals with diverse experience in addition to having outside PR counsel on retainer.  But it only works if the executive listens to them and not the lawyers.
Rene A. Henry

Rene A. Henry

When any client gets in trouble, lawyers almost always say "no comment" or ignore returning media calls.  Agents don't have a clue what to do until they see a monthly income statement and quickly realize how many endorsements and sponsorships their client has lost.  The client has double trouble when the agent also is a lawyer.  Some unethical agents have made a mess of college sports by violating NCAA rules and causing sanctions to be imposed on schools.  Perhaps Vince Lombardi had the right idea when he refused to negotiate with agents and dealt directly with the players.

There once were many outstanding public relations professionals in the business who knew exactly what to do.  Regrettably, these have been replaced by newbies and wannabees who have no training or experience in dealing with crises or even understanding the basic principles of public relations.

The best today are those who learned from and practice what was practiced by icons in entertainment and sports public relations  - Henry Rogers, Howard Strickling, Rupert Allen, Murray Weisman, Shelly Saltman, Jim Flood, Don Smith, John Strauss, Mike Moran, Budd Thalman, Hank Rieger, C. Robert Paul, Jr., Arthur Solomon, and Cliff Dektar.  

In crisis management and communications the first principle is to prevent a crisis from happening, and if it does, to get immediate closure.  This means anticipating what to do when a crisis happens and having a plan in place.  Unfortunately too many of the lawyers, agents and publicity flacks in the entertainment and sports businesses today would have a better chance of understanding Einstein's theory of relativity before creating a plan that could be implemented on behalf of their clients.

To get closure and build trust from the media and public, this means returning all calls, answering all emails and letters, always telling the truth, never misleading, getting the whole story told as quickly as possible, being open and transparent, and being proactive to stop and correct any misinformation.  With today's technology and social media information can be around the world in a matter of seconds.  The fundamentals of crisis communications are just plain common sense.

This also means the celebrity's PR representative needs to communicate with the network or studio executives or sports team owners of the client involved as well as any sponsors and to coordinate statements with the respective counterparts in public relations.  Crisis situations get out of control when the lawyer, agent or publicist responds like a gate guardian and slams shut the doors.

I have worked with lawyers, agents and publicists, some of them friends and colleagues, who were afflicted with a gate guard mentality.  While good at doing what they do for their clients, they violated the basic principle of always returning every inquiry.  Few ever let their clients know of any requests or even have the courtesy to respond.  This character and discipline flaw becomes readily apparent in a crisis.

I once had a partner who had this syndrome.  Another partner and I were having lunch at a tony Beverly Hills restaurant when one of Los Angeles' movers and shakers told us that she made a request involving our client Carol Burnett and had been turned down.  She said Burnett had always been a major supporter of the charity so she asked our partner who handled her if she would emcee an upcoming annual event.  He answered "no."  

When we returned to our offices, without asking our partner who represented Burnett, we  phoned her at home and asked if she would like to emcee the event.  She enthusiastically responded "Of course, I would love to.  It is one of my favorite charities."  Two hours later our partner, who never took the time to discuss the request with her, was livid.  We reminded him that he not only had done a disservice to our client by not asking her, but had offended someone who was important to our firm.  Non-responders just do not understand this.

One Hollywood publicist boasts that a magazine considers her one of the 50 most powerful women in New York City.  This probably is because she is the gate guardian who screens all requests and invites for her actor clients.  I doubt if she has ever done anything to benefit the Big Apple and without her client list she would be just another flack.  She probably never took a course in ethics and leverages her clients for her own selfish interests. 

This is the 50th anniversary of JFK's famous inaugural speech about not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.  Many entertainers and athletes I know would love to give back to any number of causes if ever asked.  It is a shame that too many who are supposed to represent the best interests of celebrities do not give their clients the opportunity to do so. 

Rene A. Henry is an author and writer who lives in Seattle.  He spent five decades of his professional career in international sports at all levels and also is a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  His latest book, "Communicating In A Crisis," is filled with examples of crises in both entertainment and sports. For David M. Kinchen's review of "Communicating In A Crisis," click: http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/columns/080930-kinchen-columnsbookreview.html

By Jonathan & Erik Bernstein


We're always being asked stuff like "What's your favorite computer/online tool for doing ____?  Where can I learn more about crisis management, public relations or creating a blog? "What do you play online?" 


In other words, questions that may be apropos of nothing we write about regularly, but about which there seems to be genuine interest.  So...we're going to start featuring some of our "favorite things" in this section, even at the risk of letting you know more about us than you might want to know (we say, with grins on faces). We'll add our initials after each entry so that you know who originated each of them.


  • If you haven't tried Google+ yet, which is still in Beta-testing, you're not missing anything.  And it's going to be way too easy for Facebook to add the features that currently make Google+ unique.  HOWEVER, it's still one more place to list your URL and have a link back to your websites-of-choice, so at least there's some SEO value.-- JB
  • I am finally about to make the leap from PC to Mac...sorta...I'm inheriting my wife's one-year-old iMac, which I'll initially use only for my music recording hobby.  She gets the new MacBook Air.  Readers who have made the full transition - your tips are welcomed! -- JB  
  • Did you know that Klout.com now integrates Facebook activity into its ratings?  I think it is morphing into an excellent measurement tool for those who seek Internet recognition.
  • I'm an LA sports fan, and all these Laker trade rumors are driving me NUTS. By the way, congrats on first place Angels! -- EB  
  • We're trying one of these "zipline tours" next week on Catalina Island, if your faithful editor doesn't return then you know what happened :P  -- EB  

(aka blatant self-promotion) 


Keeping the Wolves at Bay: Media Training


What has 80+ pages of hard-hitting, entertaining and easy-to-read guidance on how to deal with both traditional and online media during times of crisis?  The answer is
Keeping the Wolves at Bay - Media Training.Book Cover JPG

The, four-color, perfect-bound, 8x10 manual is currently available both in hardcopy ($25) and PDF form ($10). Volume discounts are available; write to Jonathan Bernstein for that information.  

Here's a couple of teaser reviews for you:


Jonathan Bernstein's Keeping the Wolves at Bay is an eminently practical guidance for anyone - business leader, celebrity, politician - who must willingly or unwillingly face the glare of media attention. It appears
at a moment in time when the social media and other digital communications have upped the ante exponentially.
Bernstein's practicum on media relations takes on renewed urgency as news, gossip, and opinion now drive
public perception virally and at the speed of light.

Richard Levick, Esq.
President & CEO
Levick Strategic Communications, LLC

Even if you think you'll never, ever be interviewed by the media, buy this book and read it cover to cover. It isn't a substitute for media training. But it will give you the tools and confidence to go head to head -- and possibly even defang -- rabid reporters, blood-thirsty bloggers and social networking buffoons who are out to besmirch your good name.

Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound 


The book and other products can be found at the

Crisis Manager Bookstore  

Want To Blog And Tweet About
Your Organization But Don't Have Time? 

Missing out on all the promotional and SEO advantages of doing so? Hire someone to be your voice...like Erik Bernstein, editor of Crisis Manager.


More info:erik@bernsteincrisismanagement.com.



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.


JB and EB dual bio pic

Jonathan Bernstein is both publisher of Crisis Manager and 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 Jonathan at: jonathan@bernsteincrisismanagement.com.

Erik Bernstein is editor of Crisis Manager and is also a writer, publicist and SEO associate for Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.

Write to Erik at: erik@bernsteincrisismanagement.com.



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.

In This Issue
Just A Thought
Emergency Management Exercises
Hollywood Crises
Apropos of Nothing
Quick Links