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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2004 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 3,800+
Estimated Readership: 13,000+


We're the heat shield. We're the flacks who take the flak.

Australian crisis management pro Anthony McClellan


Editor's Note: This issue's editorial space is devoted entirely to a "long version" of a press release that went out nationally today. The media have been offered a link to this version, which includes prediction-specific quotes not included in the wire service version. I offer it to Crisis Manager subscribers to read first, in the hope that none of you will be a victim of these crises. I'm sending this out a bit early because I know that many won't be in their offices for a few days hence. Finally, I look forward to serving you in the New Year and may 2004 bring all of you much serenity and prosperity.


Los Angeles - December 30, 2003 - More allegations about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, shootings by disgruntled workers and students, and additional investigations of sexual abuse at trusted institutions are some of the crisis management predictions for 2004 released today by Jonathan Bernstein, editor of the "Crisis Manager" newsletter and president of California-based Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc..

"Some people won't want to hear this, but that's precisely why it's so important to think about," said Bernstein. "The Ostrich Syndrome, hiding your head in the sand, is one of the major causes of crises."

He explained that by reverse-engineering crises to see why they occurred, he has learned that organizations have often ignored simple crisis prevention strategies they could have employed, with predictable results.

"Smart organizations learn from their own crises, but smarter organizations learn from the crises of others," said Bernstein. "Not all crises can be prevented, but even those that can't usually cause far more damage because organizations and individuals are under-prepared," he said.

Bernstein's crisis management predictions for 2004, in order of probability (with #1 being highest), are:

  1. Workers will be shot at more than one organization because their employer and/or fellow employees have ignored warning signs that a disgruntled employee or former employee was a serious threat; the same thing will happen at more than one school whose staff and/or students have ignored an angry student's warning signs.
    "The this-can't-happen-to-us delusion is alive and well at most places of employment," said Bernstein. "Fortunately, that's less true at schools where there is community pressure for erring on the side of caution when it comes to safety."
  2. More celebrities will acknowledge having become addicted to prescription medications, particularly Vicodin, Oxycontin and others containing hydrocodone.
    "The Rush Limbaugh case is merely the latest glimpse at the tip of this iceberg," said Bernstein. "My contacts in the recovery community tell me that prescription drug abuse is at epidemic levels amongst all socio-economic groups."
  3. Many high-profile lawsuits will be filed, with related negative publicity, simply because companies have inadequate complaint-monitoring and customer service systems.
    "The complaint-monitoring and complaint trend analysis systems of many organizations are slow and cumbersome, and sometimes even non-existent," said Bernstein. "Any consumer knows that from horrible experiences trying to reach customer support for certain organizations."
  4. Scores of businesses will have their plans delayed or permanently derailed because they have underestimated the efficacy of environmental activists.
    "Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and other environmental action organizations use professional communicators whose goal is to create a crisis for their targets," said Bernstein. "Too many business leaders think that because environmentalists are unpaid or paid poorly, they're amateurs, which is usually completely incorrect. The environmental community even conducts its own training programs to teach grassroots activists how to garner public attention for their efforts, online and off-line. "
  5. Headline-generating investigations about sexual abuse and other sexual improprieties will continue to expand beyond the Catholic Church to other religious groups and also to non-religious institutions where people are in a position of trust -- e.g., schools, child care, elder care.
    "In the past year alone, my agency has served four schools and one child care organization where there were allegations of sexual impropriety by staff members, students or both," said Bernstein.
  6. The use of crisis management techniques by average citizens -- e.g., parents of kidnap victims -- will continue to expand, giving them the power to generate publicity and motivate authorities to respond more thoroughly.
    "The Elizabeth Smart case was a leading example of this, and my agency launched the website (no longer active) to help the family of missing former NBA Star Bison Dele successfully pressure the feds to conduct an investigation even though it wasn't on American soil."
  7. Internet-based communication will both cause and solve many crises; a corollary prediction is that failure to learn how to use the Internet for crisis management purposes will result in far greater damage being incurred by organizations in crisis.
    "The Internet makes it impossible for crisis managers to contain a crisis geographically anymore," said Bernstein. "It also allows anyone with Internet access and some degree of Internet savvy to damage an organization or individuals it doesn't like."

    "The good news is that the Internet also allows organizations to monitor rumors and detect early warning signs of trouble before they turn into major news or lawsuits," Bernstein added.

  8. Hundreds of not-for-profits will incur crises simply because their boards of directors don't exercise close enough oversight over their salaried staff members.
    "The fastest-growing part of my business has been working with not-for-profits facing this kind of dilemma," said Bernstein. "White collar crime by paid staff of not-for-profits appears to be rampant nationwide, with boards of directors at everything from school districts to credit unions failing toadequately monitor those who serve them."
  9. Deaths and injuries will occur because a manufacturer, worried about bad press from admitting a product had some problems, will be too slow in recalling a defective product.
    "They don't realize that they're doubly hurting themselves because they'll ultimately be criticized, and probably sued, for ignoring internal warnings," said Bernstein.
  10. One or more major media outlets will report new allegations about improper behavior by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger during his weightlifting and show business careers.
    "I believe that some of the country's best investigative reporters are quietly conducting exhaustive research to find damning evidence that will implicate Governor Schwarzenegger in wrongdoing," said Bernstein. "The near-miss allegations against Schwarzenegger-the-candidate would have caused a lot of reporters to think that where there's smoke, there's fire."

"For the sake of the victims, I hope none of these things happen," said Bernstein. "I know that most of them can be prevented or, at least, the damage can be greatly minimized. Organizations have to stop treating crisis preparedness as a low-priority expense and start looking at it as a high-priority investment."


How to Conduct a Vulnerability Audit Teleseminar January 14

Space is still available for this first-ever revelation of some personal trade secrets. The one-hour live program will take place on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 starting at 11:00 a.m. Pacific/noon Mountain/1 p.m. Central/2 p.m. Eastern time (U.S. time zones, although participants from anywhere are welcome!).

Questions to be answered through my presentation will include:

  • What the heck IS a vulnerability audit?
  • What are the different ways in which such an audit can be conducted?
  • What are the bottom-line benefits of vulnerability audits?
  • How do you conduct each type of vulnerability audit?
  • Who needs to provide input to a vulnerability audit?
  • What are Jonathan Bernstein's favorite tactics for getting the best results from vulnerability audits?
  • What can you do with audit results when you have them?

I'm going to be presenting for about 40 of the event's 60 minutes, leaving the rest of the time for Q&A breaks. My commitment is to answer EVERY question attendees have -- if we don't have time during the teleseminar, questions can be emailed.

THE SECOND TELESEMINAR, on January 28, is going to be about The Nastiest Media Tricks and How to Prevent or Respond to Them. I will interview and exchange tips and war stories with two nationally renowned media trainers and past guest authors for this ezine -- Judy Hoffman and Bob Aronson. The program will also start at 11:00 a.m. Pacific/noon Mountain/1 p.m. Central/2 p.m. Eastern time.

Questions to be answered in the presentation will include:

  • What are the sneakiest, nastiest, most conniving tricks reporters have pulled against organizations or individuals in crisis?
  • What nasty tricks are, in fact, ethical by journalistic standards?
  • What's the difference between a nasty trick and good investigative/feature reporting?
  • How do you avoid becoming a victim of nasty media tricks?
  • If you've become a victim of a nasty media trick, what do you do?
  • Is it OK to blacklist certain media, refuse to talk to them?
  • Who are some public figures we can study as good and bad examples of how to deal with nasty media tricks?

Go To to reserve your space.

Pricing for either teleseminar will be $95. It includes any number of people from your organization, as long as you're gathered around a conference phone -- i.e., one registration covers one telephone connection. After each teleseminar, a CD-ROM recording of the event will be available for sale, also for $95.


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


When I find a site that I think will be useful to my readers or site visitors, I put it on our Links page. If you have a site that would be of specific use to crisis managers and want to discuss a link exchange or other cooperative effort, please write to me,


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.


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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