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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2001 Jonathan Bernstein


Happy Birthday To Us!
by Jonathan Bernstein

We must have been having fun.

Our February 1 issue marked the one-year anniversary of this ezine, and I didn't realize it until about a week later. Since our first issue, Crisis Manager's circulation has grown considerably, and I am spending more time as editor of our many fine contributors and a little less time writing copy myself, which is as it should be.

Feedback has been almost universally positive, and, as a publisher, I'm gratified by the very low unsubscribe rate.

I want to give special thanks to my wife, Celeste Mendelsohn, whose work on my website and the archived, HTML version of the newsletter has won praise from visitors worldwide.

As we move ahead, I have some questions for you, because I'd be a poor PR guy if I didn't do ongoing "customer research." You can reply to -- I'll try to set this up so that you can easily cut and paste the questions and your answers.

  1. What can I do differently that would make this publication more useful to YOU?
  2. Are you more likely, as likely, or less likely to recommend Crisis Manager to an associate today as you were when you first subscribed? If there's been any change in your opinion since first subscribing, could you tell me why?
  3. If, at some point, I publish a softcover book, "The Best of Crisis Manager," with the best tips and case histories set out in an organized fashion, would that be something you'd consider buying (a) for yourself and (b) as a gift for your staff or business contacts?

And, as always, I welcome any other comments you wish to offer.

Thank you all for being a part of my life during the past year; I have come to know some of you as email buddies, as vendors of important services, as potential team members for crisis response, and as friends. As my grandmother used to say, "Such a deal!"


Educate your Attorneys
by Jonathan Bernstein

When I went to work on a major environmental pollution case about eight years ago, the white collar criminal attorney hired by my client was COMPLETELY opposed to the concept that PR could play an important role in managing the situation. Today, that attorney is my best referral source.

If you're an lawyer who subscribes to this newsletter, you're already ahead of the game. You're choosing self-education and you're probably inclined to work as part of an integrated team with competent PR/crisis management talent. But the majority of attorneys I've encountered still, by training and inclination, do not understand or trust public communication about legal matters.

I have seen those untrusting eyes opened wide in presentations I've been privileged to give to Bar Association groups, through dissemination of articles that I and other crisis management pros have written, as a result of "crisis management orientation sessions" for senior executives at various organizations, and similar educational activities.

If you can educate YOUR attorneys, now, before a crisis hits, you'll avoid a lot of arm-wrestling and delay when it's time to fight the fire.


Editor's Note: This is the conclusion of Dr. Lowe's three-part article from "Creating an Online Crisis PR Campaign and Event." It is extracted from "Internet Marketing in a Digital Economy," the Prentice Hall book she is co-authoring, due to be published this fall. Portions were reformatted to suit the layout of this newsletter.

Virtual Newsroom: Web Design for Crisis
by Dr. Deborah Lowe and Dr. Thomas Matula

Online public relations is crucial to create an image for the company, create community connections,as well as socially responsible projects and events for corporate advertising.It is creating a media area with a Virtual Newsroom. It is creating information to help not only with special events but also with crisis communications.

The Virtual Newsroom is a very important marketing concept in Web design but one that often is not included in a typical website. The Virtual Newsroom should contain press releases targeted for various target audiences, and issue fact sheets with current relevant statistics showing how big and newsworthy the issue is. Other items should include profiles of experts, newsworthy event information, FAQ's, and translation accessible for the world press. Clippings of previous coverage, technical information, tips and strategies, and most-important contact information for the PR department. A search function to help the journalist find crucial information, photos, information on Webcasts, and an area for social responsibility projects are critical elements.

Financial Community

An electronic newsletter with financial information should be developed. The annual report with an executive summary with key financial data to help investors make stock purchase decisions including sales, income, profits, losses, expenses, P/E ratio, and the EPS ratio should be included. The financial analyst call briefing area should have printable transcriptions with a layman's English version for individual investors that explain the complicated concepts. An audio copy can also be included.

Cause Related Communities

Geographic community groups should have a separate newsletter that creates a company image. This can reduce company vulnerability to activists and help reduce government fines in the event of a crisis.

Social Responsibility Web Site Area

A company should create a positive social responsibility image on its website. This is the area where the company can highlight its community based support programs and internal employee volunteer programs. Many companies sponsor community organization events and then publicize that support in corporate advertising to enhance the company image. Putting that information on the website is an extension of that PR effort.

Other companies have online support efforts. At the website, companies help support world hunger and saving the rain forest with an interactive activity website visitors can participate in. The more people visit and click, the more money the company donates.

When a company's employees volunteer their time to help build Habitat for Humanity homes (Target), help with literacy programs at schools (Charles Schwab) or support battered women's shelters (Phillip Morris), the website is an effective way to publicize those efforts.

The company can also assign someone in the public relations department to position the company efforts in this area in various targeted newsgroups. The website should organize the support efforts by issue, by year, and by community group.

Intranet-Crisis War Room Internal Hub for the Crisis Team

In addition to what's shown to the public on your external site, there should be a corresponding Intranet site to help your team respond more effectively.

Goals for the Intranet

  • Searchable database with easy navigation.
  • Two-hour crisis response time with email, phone tree notification system for the crisis team to quickly assess and resolve the incident.

Content for the Intranet

  • Crisis procedures in an encrypted password protected area with a challenge response scheme.
  • Security measures for crisis data include firewalls, one-time passwords, smart cards, randomized tokens, challenge response schemes and biometric security which can include fingerprints, handprints, retinal scans and voice identification.

Crisis Planning

  • Prewritten press releases for adjustment in a format ready to upload.
  • Crisis notification system for employees set up for mass emails to update them.
  • Crisis area on the internal website to update employees on the latest crisis information with what they can say to the press.
  • Crisis password protected area set up for the crisis team for the war room.
  • Crisis area for employees in the company to put in rumors and other things they hear about the crisis.
  • Monitor system for newsgroup rumors about the crisis.
  • Tracking of media articles about the crisis.

Technology for the Intranet

  • Video Window able to open up on sales contacts computer to hold live interactions with the crisis team in a secure encrypted area.
  • Telephone tree phone numbers loaded into an artificial intelligence notification program that is hooked to a wireless notification system for retrieval.

Goals for the Extranet

  • Effective media relations during a crisis.
  • Effective image creation for the international division.
  • Visually clear layout that provides visual comfort, uses consistent windows, and contains no long body text on the first page.
  • Good use of white space, graphics and color.

Creation of a Virtual Newsroom

The Virtual Newsroom is a 3D environment with audio and video clips, present and past press releases organized by issue and by year. The search function helps the journalist find crucial information quickly and live webcasts make crisis press conferences possible on the Internet from corporate headquarters.

Virtual Newsroom Media Content

  • List of experts organized by topics/various issues for discussion.
  • Newsroom has a library with research facts, white papers, and case studies.
  • Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Reality imaging room for live press conferences.
  • All information is printable and translation of all media information provided to the worldwide press.
  • Press releases are targeted to specific countries like Canada and Mexico.
  • Issue Fact Sheets have current relevant information on the issue.
  • Biographies/Profiles of spokespersons that establish their credentials.
  • List of experts on various hot issue topics.
  • Link to Event Information.
  • Company history.
  • Photos.
  • Contact list.
  • E-mail sign up to send the company newsletter.
  • Bulletin Boards.
  • Newsgroups.
  • Searchable database.

Company Content for the Extranet

  • Company logo.
  • Company description.
  • Complete product descriptions with small clear pictures.

<B>Technology for the Extranet

Video Window able to open up on media contacts computer to hold live interviews with the crisis spokesman to facilitate international damage control.


  • Using menu and internal links, the site will have intuitive easy to find desired information.
  • Existence of navigation bars on the top and bottom of all pages and a button navigator bar on every page.
  • Use of layered information and pull down menus.
  • Pop up text windows.

Editor's Note: Dr. Deborah Lowe is a Full Professor of Marketing at San Francisco State University, teaching graduate courses in Internet Marketing, Digital Advertising, Public Relations in an Internet Age and Marketing. She does consulting on Internet Marketing and Product Tampering Crisis Communications. Dr. Lowe can be contacted by email,


Q: What's your favorite ezine related to crisis management, other than your own, of course?

CM: To stay aware of crises worldwide, I really enjoy reading "Breaking News from Global Continuity." European practitioners have coined the term "business continuity" to refer to anything which affects the flow of business, a broader term than "crisis." This excellent ezine goes to anyone who opts to receive it when registering at their website, Five days a week, it gives a precis of and link to longer articles about breaking situations which affect business continuity. Here's a couple of examples from a recent issue:

KFC acts quick to defend brand
News - Commercial issues- brand protection

Fast food retailer Kentucky Fried Chicken has agreed to drop its lawsuit against an American couple who claimed they had discovered Colonel Saunders' secret recipe in the basement of their house.

Activists shut three Shell pumping stations
News - Crisis management

Three Shell pumping stations in Nigeria have been closed by 'community activists', costing the oil giant an estimated 40,000 barrels a day.


(Have a newsletter and/or website and want to exchange links? Let's talk about it! Write to

These sites have proven valuable to my business and may do the same for yours.

"Media Insider" is a free service for the public relations community hosted by PR Newswire and ProfNet, its online resource linking reporters with expert sources. Updated daily with contributions from members, Insider reports on the people and new technologies behind the production of news. Go to

The PR Network provides a means for exchanging ideas and business improvement tips between PR professionals. They're at and their newsletter can be subscribed to by sending email to with the word "subscribe" in the BODY of the email.


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.


Crisis Manager and the Bernstein Crisis Management website will now periodically include book, software and related product/service reviews. To suggest items for review, write to or contact Jonathan Bernstein, Bernstein Crisis Management, 1013 Orange Avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016, (626) 825-3838.

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