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"

2012 Jonathan Bernstein


Volume XIII, Number 8

May 2, 2012   



 During crises, many C-suites turn into ostrich pens. 


                           Jonathan Bernstein   





Next time you consider burying your knowledge of a crisis behind half truths and denial, take a look at Rupert Murdoch. The media baron's reputation has been absolutely shredded in the fallout from the hacking scandal that has shut down his News of the World tabloid and deeply scarred The Sun, not to mention resulted in the arrest of over 20 current and former Murdoch employees. 

The latest disgrace? A UK Parliamentary committee has issued a report detailing, in depth, exactly how, when, and by whom they were purposely deceived.

The icing on the cake? The report also declares the committee's opinion that, if Murdoch truly was unaware of the illegal phone hacking running rampant through his multinational organization as he claimed, then he is unfit to run it at all.

Good luck recovering from that.

As always, below you'll find a summary of the best from both of our blogs.   

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. 




Thank you, and read on!


          - Erik



Citibank - A Grimm Fairy Tale
By Jonathan Bernstein
[This piece originally appeared on one of our blogs and drew such an enthusiastic response that we thought we'd share it with the newsletter audience - Ed.] 

Once upon a time there were two young bankers. We shall call them Mut and Geoff.

Mut and Geoff were employed by - yea, verily - a bank. We shall call it Citibank. They worked in the towne of Pasadena, in the shire of Los Angeles.

In the latter half of March, in the year 2012, banker Mut contacted me, quite excited.

"Sire, as you know, Citimortgage currently holds the deed on your faire property. We thought you might be interested in refinancing now, because rates will rise as surely as scones contain currants."

Now, dear readers, this possibility seemed to be a fairy tale, although young Mut claimed that it was one of the Hans Christian
Anderson variety. In our reality, we had acquired said home in 2006, when the real estate market was at its very peak and, of course, soon became piqued. Thus, our residence lost 20% of its value (our down payment) in the subsequent two years. We believed, from what the Shire Assessor told us, that values had come back up perhaps 10%. But there was no way that our home could meet the magical 80/20 Loan-to-Value ratio required by lenders today.

"Nay nay," sayeth Mut. "A home very comparable to yours, and barely more than a stone's throw away from your abode,  just sold for a price almost 20% HIGHER than what you PAID for yours." Yes, he actually spoke in capital letters.

Thus encouraged, we said, "Yes, let's proceed." Mut inquired after and received information on our not-inconsiderable resources in order for his employer to be comfortable that we were unlikely to default on any agreement. As we had already been faithfully paying for the deed they already held in their vaults over the past six years, we were not surprised when they expressed the belief that we were unlikely to default on any agreement. An even more exhilarated young Mut then scheduled an appointment at our abode to begin the inevitable paperwork.

On the day of our appointment, Mut arrived in the company of Geoff who, we were told, did for the banking side of Citibank what Mut did for the mortgage side - recruited and served new customers as their "personal banker."

The intrepid duo arrived bearing gifts, no less. A cup, although our cup cupboard already floweth over. A golf umbrella, should we want traffic helicopters and military spy satellites to be able to read the Citibank logo when it was in use. A zip-up money pouch with which to ferry our fortune to Citibank's branches. A soft ball suitable for choking children and small pets. And a padded notebook computer case that was missing a handle.

Geoff took this opportunity to portray the many sundry benefits associated with becoming a "Citibank Gold" customer. "What!" exclaimed I. "We get more than this bountiful display of specialty product largesse just foisted upon us? Capital, just capital!"

Apparently, if we were willing to transfer every farthing we had saved and all immediately available monies to their safekeeping, Citibank would countenance a slight reduction in the lending rate and would assign a senior bank clerk to personally assist us with transferring our wealth and even increasing their assets...no, perhaps that was increasing our assets...ah well, I digress.

"How much do I need to transfer into a Citigold Account to receive these benefits," I asked Geoff.

"Well," he said, "If you transferred $250,000 we could......."

At that point, Geoff thought it prudent to stop, as my fingers were involuntarily starting to clench as if around a man's throat.

"Young sir, what is the MINIMUM that I need to transfer at this time for such benefits?" I said, prudently restraining myself.

"Sire, that would be only $100."

"Make it so," said I, fulfilling a long-time ambition to sound like the dashing adventurer Jean-Luc Picard.

With papers signed, Mut and Geoff departed our home. A few days later, as we expected, a private appraiser and her nervous-looking assistant wandered about our property, making notes and looking secretive. At one point, she spoke aloud about the number of bathrooms in our home, requiring my wife to note that somehow this skilled professional had missed one bathroom. We bid her farewell, and continued to wait.

Then, the electronic post delivered the appraisal report, which caused us, upon perusal, to feel shocked, dismayed, agitated, disheartened and completely out of sorts of all sort.

Readers, hark ye back to the beginning of this story, when Mut told us that a comparable commorancy had sold recently for a price "20% HIGHER than what you paid for YOURS." The appraiser's appraisal agreed that said property was physically comparable to ours - and noted that it had sold for exactly the same price as we paid for ours. Other comparable properties sold for even less. In short, the bank's loan-to-value requirements could not be met and our entire experience had been for naught.

Then began a lengthy series of calls and emails between myself and Mut in which I noted, repeatedly, that whether by error or intent, he had enticed our participation in this lengthy process by using false information - and in which, repeatedly, he COMPLETELY ignored that assertion in favor of gobbledegook, gibberish and falderal.

His motive? Dear readers, I cannot read his mind. Maybe he was being lauded for simply bringing borrowers into their system, hoping to at least retain our banking business. Maybe he, a "home lending specialist," couldn't read a real estate listing. Maybe bank training and supervision had underserved Mut. I know not.

Imagine our amusement, then, when we received a form-missive from Citibank which read as follows:

"Pursuant to your request, we have withdrawn your mortgage loan, for the above referenced application, as of today's date."

Unable to restrain myself, I wrote to Mut one more time, asking him to inform his superiors that their letter was grossly inaccurate, that it should have said:

"Pursuant to our misrepresentation of home closing prices in your area and the subsequent appraisal that did not meet our LTV requirements, we have denied the mortgage refinance loan that we shouldn't have approached you for in the first place."

Admirer that I am of Don Quixote, Rambo and others who take on often fruitless quests, I felt compelled to continue the dialogue with "anyone other than Mut" at Citibank in the hopes of, perhaps, preventing another homeowner from being similarly victimized.

As I ready to publish this tale, I have been engaged in a thus-far-futile multi-day set of communications in and out of the land of Twitter, attempting to find a lending supervisor to contact me. Many have promised, none have done so to date. How utterly...Citibank. 

NOTE TO READERS:  Much rascalism has ensued since the tale above was first published.  If you'd like to read the aftermath of this story, which did elicit Citibank attention, please visit our blog post.
By Erik Bernstein

Check out some of the latest posts on the Bernstein Crisis Management blog and our Crisis Management blog over at Carter McNamara's Free Management Library. If you're a crisis manager, whether it's in your job description or not, you'll find useful info here every single week.

Would you be upset if you heard one of your city council members used $28k of Taxpayer Money...to Tweet? Well, so were the residents of Philadelphia when they discovered that Councilman Jim Kenney not only pays a PR guy $30k a year to handle his communications, but also shells out an additional $28k to a separate contractor to handle his Twitter feed.
Erik Bernstein
Erik Bernstein

As the controversial war in Afghanistan and the surrounding areas drags on, we're seeing a lot More Military Crisis Management. One of the latest situations, photographs of U.S. soldiers standing in what they could only have considered comedic poses with dead Afghan insurgents, should serve as a wakeup call for the Army, which has done little to bankroll goodwill on the Web.

There are many ways of Listening for a Crisis. In this guest post, BCM contractor Chris Syme shares an excerpt from her new book that addresses the sometimes-puzzling options available for social media monitoring, sharing and response. Scaled for businesses of all sizes, these invaluable tools are almost guaranteed to boost your bottom line.

In Crisis Management for Small Business, we take a look at the factors that can lead local stores or one man shops into becoming dangerously complacent regarding crises, as well as some tips from our own Jonathan Bernstein on how to navigate the inevitable rough spots.

No one individual is going to roll in, start blasting, and clean up the mess your organization's in. Flat out, Cowboy Crisis Management does not work. It takes a team working in sync, with trust in one another, to bust the toughest crises.

Erik Bernstein is a freelance writer, editor of Crisis Manager, and Social Media Manager for Bernstein Crisis Management


Free Alerts About Disasters of All Kinds


Receive free alerts about natural disasters, epidemics, nuclear and biological threats for any part of the world, in real time, from RSOE EDIS, an impressive site operated out of Hungary. -- Jonathan


Seeing through Walls


As if smartphones don't already pose major threats to information security and personal privacy, now there's a chip that will allow them to see through walls! -- Jonathan 


Crisis Management Database


If you are a crisis management professional or work in a related field -- e.g., media training, business continuity -- write to me for information on how to be part of my new Crisis Management Database. -- Jonathan


(aka blatant self-promotion) 



Manager's Guide to Crisis Management



Whether you're a seasoned manager, aspiring up-and-comer, or student of crisis management, Jonathan Bernstein's new book, "Manager's Guide to Crisis Management," (McGraw-Hill, 2011) will put you in control of any situation. Reviews at Amazon (the link above) are stellar, and McGraw-Hill reports they are pleased with sales-to-date. 




Keeping the Wolves at Bay: Media Training 


Book Cover JPG

What has 80+ pages of hard-hitting, enter-

taining 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. 

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 


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 NewErik Bernstein

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 Social Media Manager 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
Citibank - A Grimm Fairy Tale
Apropos of Nothing
Quick Links


BCM Blog
Crisis Management Blog

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