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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2006 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,000+
Estimated Readership: 14,000+


Intelligence and a high level of education are sometimes a barrier to common sense.

Jonathan Bernstein


20 More Crisis Management Lessons Learned
By Jonathan Bernstein

It's been about a half-year since I summarized "lessons learned" through situations I've observed and/or helped to manage. So here are 20 more crisis management lessons for you - and hopefully you won't have to learn them the hard way!

1. No organization can afford to be ignorant about Internet-centered communications and its role in crisis prevention and response Those who mean you harm are often very savvy in this regard and if you remain ignorant, you enable their activities.

2. Internet-centered activists seek allies in their efforts to destroy organizations they oppose - the organizations they oppose need to seek allies as well.

3. There does not have to be any logic or factual basis for your organization to be the target of Internet activism.

4. If your own people badmouth each other internally, you can count on that being "heard" externally.

5, Internet critics going after global organizations will do all they can to get their criticism translated into the language of your target audiences, so don't assume that you're "safe" from a crisis spilling over into other cultures you serve just because the critic him/herself primarily speaks one language.

6. Delay in response has exacerbated the negative impact of crises more than any other factor.

7. Litigation breeds negative PR. Negative PR breeds litigation. Yet all too often, the PR/crisis management people and the lawyers aren't talking to each other.

8. Too many experts in one field think that they're also expert in another, with disastrous results. Knowing what you know and what you don't know - where you need help - is as important to effective crisis management as it is to any other critical task.

9. It's possible to believe you know your organization so well that you don't really see what's going on.

10. It is not possible to be sure of your target audiences' feelings about or reactions to a crisis situation without asking them.

11. Time no longer causes negative information to fade from memory as it used to, because the Internet has become a perpetual "collective memory" for everyone -- with ease of memory retrieval being dictated by the search engine optimization skills of those who generate the information.

12. A organization held together with reputation management or business continuity band-aids will eventually disintegrate.

13. Emails have a way of going to the wrong person.

14. In the 21st Century, basic Crisis Management/Crisis Communications skills are critical for all senior management personnel and, with rare exception, most senior management have no such training. That's a recipe for disaster.

15. No reputation - I repeat, NO reputation - is so exalted that it can survive consistent criticism that is not met with effective response.

16. If you don't have designated spokespersons, then a whole lot of folks will think they can speak for you.

17. If you say a policy is important -- but you don't remind your employees of it frequently and train/retrain them in its implementation -- then you're deluding yourself.

18. In the event of a crisis, the only thing any of your stakeholders - internal or external - really want to hear is the answer to "How does this impact me?"

19. Don't take your IT department's word for it that your data and hardware is adequately protected. Make them - or someone - prove it to you in words that a non-techie can understand.

20. Denial, per the American Heritage Dictionary, can be defined as "An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings." If this reminds you of your leadership's perspective on crisis preparedness and response, perhaps you should slip this entire list onto a few desks, anonymously.

[A previously published list of lessons learned is archived here.]

Free Homeland Security Newsletter

I'm finding my free subscription to The Weekly Homeland Security Newsletter, published by the Homeland Security Institute, to be extremely valuable for my own education and for the benefit of my clients. You can view the latest issue and subscribe by clicking here.


What Does That Slogan Mean?

By popular demand, I have re-opened an online store at which I sell clothing and mugs featuring the famous "Crisis Manager University" emblem and its infamous slogan, "Quoniam Stercus Accidit". That translates to "Because Stuff Happens." Except the real word isn't "stuff." There's only a 10% markup at the store to cover my costs -- it's a turnkey operation hosted by Cafe Press. I have found the items there to be a major hit with my clients and associates and great gift for any crisis manager. My purpose is to share my sense of humor with like (sick) minds as well as to prompt some folks to ask, "Who came up with this idea?" You can visit the store at

Keeping The Wolves At Bay

Keeping the Wolves at Bay (available in print and PDF formats) remains, to my knowledge, the only commercially published media training manual in the world. It can be purchased at, and its pages can be modified to make it YOUR "name brand" media training manual if you are an agency or organization that frequently conducts training. If the latter subject is of interest to you, write to:

CD-ROM: Crisis Management & The Law
How PR Pros & Lawyers Can Work Together Effectively
Featuring Jonathan Bernstein, Richard Levick and Ed Novak

On February 23, 2005, Jonathan Bernstein played talk show host and expert commentator in a one-hour teleseminar featuring internationally renowned litigation PR expert Richard Levick and one of the country's top white collar crime attorneys, Ed Novak. This CD-ROM is a "must have" to play for the executive staff of any organization, for practice group meetings at law firms, or for the entire staff of any PR agency.

Go to to read more details about and/or to order this CD-ROM, and to learn of other educational and training materials produced by Jonathan Bernstein.


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

Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. is located at 1013 Orange Avenue, Monrovia, CA 91016. Telephone: (626) 825-3838.


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.


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