© 2002 Jonathan Bernstein
JUST A THOUGHT
The First Law of Holes: If You Get In One, Stop Digging
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
One good way to stay out of trouble is to foresee what trouble may be on the way. Crisis Manager readers recently received our Crisis Management Predictions for 2002.
Now Global Continuity has come out with its Business Continuity Predictions for 2002, business continuity being the "big picture" of anything that could improve, or disrupt, an organization's ability to do business. Some highlights:
TERRORISM -- Western businesses will increasingly become targets for small-scale terror attacks; in the Middle East, Asia and Africa especially.
INTERNET -- Internet availability will become more important in 2002, and not just for e-commerce firms. Business use of the Internet is growing rapidly and mission-critical processes are being transferred to the IP network, making the continuous availability of Internet services increasingly important.
BUSINESS CULTURE -- 2002 may see businesses pulling out of deluxe office HQs and moving into discrete, distributed office environments.
SUPPLY CHAIN -- 2002 will see increased focus upon the supply chain as a weak link in the business continuity process. Larger companies will drive BCP down the supply chain, demanding that business continuity measures are in place and auditing supplier BCPs.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT -- Probably the biggest failure experienced by businesses during September 11th was in their crisis management plans. This will be an important business continuity driver in 2002, as companies seek to develop crisis management plans that are tried, tested and guaranteed to work. This area of the market will see many new entrants as PR companies tap into a potentially lucrative market for their specialist services.
Global Continuity has graciously granted us permission not only to give you those highlights, but also to bring you the full list of predictions by archiving their normally member-only page.
CRISIS MANAGER BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENTS
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Paintball Ban Blocked in Wisconsin
by Jonathan Bernstein
An attorney tipped off my client, the Paintball Products Manufacturers Association (PPMA), that the Department of Natural Resources in Wisconsin was proposing what amounted to a complete ban on paintball on more than one million acres of state land. You could still hunt, shoot arrows and fish on state land, but not play paintball. Go figure. And the regulation would become final in just a few days.
Whether you, as a reader, care about paintball at all is moot to the central point of this case history -- the rule being proposed was going to be railroaded through with absolutely no input from anyone representing the paintball player or business community. Translate this to legislation affecting any industry that matters to you, and you'll understand why the PPMA was concerned. It wouldn't be the first time that someone with a private agenda -- bureaucrat or politician -- used "the system" to quietly push through legislation that not only impacted one region, but was also potentially precedent-setting.
PPMA's executive director, board of directors, PR consultant and legal advisor immediately launched a communications blitz that included:
- Direct communication with Wisconsin legislators on the relevant committee by a registered lobbyist and PPMA's executive director.
- Broadcast informative emails to paintball players and businesses with information on how they could contact those legislators and why it was important to do so.
- Media alerts to a previously assembled email list of writers and publications involved with the sport.
- Follow-up press releases and frequent update emails to players, businesses and media as the situation evolved.
- The first result was a "hold" put on the regulation and a new hearing set for the committee to consider input from the paintball industry.
- A major paintball manufacturer with employees and customers in Wisconsin brought its influence as an employer and corporate citizen to bear, motivating legislators to listen, including a legislator not on the committee whose district included many voters employed by the manufacturer.
- A collection of individuals representing the PPMA, paintball businesses, player groups and the media came together to attend the hearing, at which the PPMA and some other attendees testified.
- The committee members received an often-humorous and thorough education on a subject about which they previously had no clear understanding. According to statements legislators made during the hearing, they had actually been misled before hearing testimony from the attending experts.
- The State Department of Natural Resources was rebuked for trying to push the regulation through in this manner.
The issue isn't completely dead yet, but the industry has been assured that no future Wisconsin decisions about their sport will be made without talking to those who care about it the most.
CRISIS MANAGER ON THE SPOT
Q: Could you please provide details of the effects of downsizing during crisis and how can we overcome the detrimental effects of downsizing?
A: Downsizing is a fact of life and the company doesn't HAVE to be blamed if it's handled sensitively enough. The most important consideration is acknowledging and addressing the feelings invoked by downsizing amongst all your important audiences, particularly your employees (it doesn't only impact them -- if you think about it a moment, you'll realize that downsizing affects all of your stakeholders and they all need customized communications on the subject). But speaking just of employee communications -- if layoffs are conducted in a manner that communicates how much you care about them, both in words and deed, then those who remain will feel better about who they work for, and those who leave will feel they were treated fairly and will be more willing to return if work expands again. Pragmatically, you'll be less vulnerable to emotion-triggered lawsuits, too.
PLAIN ENGLISH DISCLOSURE
Bernstein Crisis Management has formal or informal co-promotional and mutually beneficial business associations with PIER Systems, Inc., PR Newswire's ProfNet service and CustomScoop. 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 how we're using these services for crisis and issues management. 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 their clients. If you have any questions about these relationships, please contact Jonathan Bernstein, (626) 825-3838.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Jonathan Bernstein is president & CEO of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., a national public relations agency specializing in crisis response, issues management and litigation consulting. It is also the only national PR agency able to create crisis- and issues-specific websites for its clients in as little as five minutes by employing proprietary PIER System technology. Information on the firm's services can be found by Clicking Here or by calling (626) 825-3838. Information on its PIER capabilities can be found at www.crisiswebsite.com.
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