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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2003 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 3,800+
Estimated Readership: 12,000+


News headlines will seldom tell you what YOUR important audiences believe about your crisis situation. You have to ask them!

Jonathan Bernstein


Editor's Note: "All" that I've brought you this issue are two checklists. Too basic, you wonder? Consider that Chris Thomas, author of the first list, is the crisis manager who went from having a regional "good rep" to international renown as a result of representing the family of kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart from immediately after her disappearance to months post-rescue. And that our other, and returning author Bob Aronson is one of this country's best media trainers. I had the pleasure of hearing Chris speak at the recent PRSA International conference, and he graciously gave me permission to use part of his PPT presentation. Bob and I have worked together before on a very difficult crisis situation, and you've seen his work featured here recently.

Seven Fundamentals for Crisis Communication
by Chris Thomas

1. Establish Ground Rules

  • Be Specific

  • Be Practical

  • Clearly Communicate Consequences

2. Be Consistent

  • Consistent and Convenient Location

  • Regular Press Briefings

  • Spokespersons

  • Messaging

  • Media Contact(s)

3. Develop Trusted Sources

  • Discerning Between Reputable and Non-Reputable Media

  • The Symbiotic Relationship with Sources

  • Avoid Going Off the Record

  • If Necessary, Be Specific and Get It in Writing

4. Develop and Execute a Daily Plan

  • Keep it Simple

  • Formulate with Input/Participation from Key Players

  • Closely Guard All Confidential Documents

  • Be Prepared to Respond Quickly

5. Prepare for Every Interview

  • Anticipate and Practice Questions

  • Practice Delivering Key Messages Aloud

  • Identify Speculation

6. Treat the Media Equally

  • Never Give Breaking News as an Exclusive

  • Maintain a Business Relationship with the Media

  • Don't Burn Bridges

  • Avoid Tabloid Media

7. Don't Neglect the "Golden Goose"

  • Eat at Least Three Meals

  • Keep Hydrated

  • Get Adequate Sleep

  • Professional Counseling

Chris Thomas, owner/officer of The Intrepid Group, is a respected crisis communication professional and sought after speaker. He can be reached at

Criteria for Effective Spokespersons
by Bob Aronson

An effective spokesperson:

1. Doesn't speak without being thoroughly prepared.

2. Is highly focused on what must be communicated.

3. Has a positive attitude even when under attack.

4. Is loyal. Internal disagreements are never voiced publicly.

5. Commits to preparedness and on-going coaching. There is too much at stake for anyone to "wing it."

6. Will sit on his/her ego for the greater good. Every time you speak you represent the company. Whatever the spokesperson says becomes the organization's position.

7. Understands that on occasion he/she may not be the "appropriate" spokesperson and should pass the baton to someone else.

8. Is never afraid to say, "I don't know, I'll find out and get back to you."

9. Is opportunistic but never defensive. Views every situation as an opportunity to proudly tell the organization's story.

10. Understands that anger begets anger.

11. Is available. The job may be 24-7 especially with the news media. Delay usually indicates indecision and sometimes guilt.

12. Must respect, not fear, the news media or any other audience.

Bob Aronson is principal of The Aronship Partnership,, and author of "The Simple Truth" and "Simply Speaking". His email address:


Crisis Preparedness and Training Materials Now Available

Crisis preparedness and training materials currently available in The Crisis Manager bookstore,, are:

  • The Case for Crisis Preparedness PowerPoint. A 70-slide PowerPoint presentation, complete with presenter notes, created to help in-house staff and consulting firms get organizational decision-makers' heads out of the sand.
  • Keeping the Wolves at Bay: A Media Training Manual. Still the only media training manual available for sale anywhere. Focused on crisis-related media tactics, the manual can be custom-imprinted (at no extra charge) to become "yours" when you use it for training your organization or clients. Available in print and PDF formats.
  • Keeping the Media Wolves at Bay (CD-ROM). Recording of a one-hour teleseminar featuring Publicity Hound Joan Stewart interviewing Jonathan Bernstein.
  • Special Report: How to Prevent Crises. Jonathan Bernstein's top tips on this subject in a 22-page PDF report.

Bernstein's Second Opinion/Spot-Consulting Service Need a quick second opinion on anything to do with crisis prevention or response? Just need that "outside expert" to validate, to your boss, what you've already been saying? Want me to take a quick look at your existing written crisis plans? My time can be "rented" by the hour for this type of consulting job simply by using your organizational credit card to pay for the assistance. The Crisis Manager Bookstore,, now has this option enabled.


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


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.

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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