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+


Everyone has adversaries. Do you know their weaknesses?

Richard Levick, Levick Strategic Communications


Google Trends, New Tool For Crisis Management
By Jonathan Bernstein

The Internet is at the center of many of the crises that prompt clients to call me these days, specifically the ease by which negative information proliferates online and how challenging it can be to both track and counter the negative. I have written about this subject extensively in previous issues of Crisis Manager.

A corollary challenge has been to assess how much effort to put into reputation management programs centered on particular company or brand names, or the names of individuals under attack. Are people really looking at the criticized terms a lot? What parts of the country or world are more vulnerable? Some very expensive and often proprietary diagnostic tools have been developed for this purpose, but I was very pleased to learn of a new, FREE tool from Google - Google Trends, which I anticipate will be very useful to crisis managers.

At Google Trends, you enter a keyword - or multiple keywords you wish to compare - and the system will tell you how popular those terms are:

  • By the top 10 cities where the term(s) is/are searched, worldwide.
  • By the top 10 regions where the term(s) is/are searched,worldwide.
  • By the top 10 languages in which the term(s) is/are searched, worldwide.

In some cases, if the stats are low enough, the search results may not show a "top 10" but, rather, a "top (number of significant results)." In one example below, there were only four results.

Using the brand name by which a certain company being criticized online is best known in the United States, I learned that:

  • To my great fascination, their primary brand name in North America is searched more in the State of Hawaii than in their corporate home state (which I'll leave out in the interest of confidentiality). That means, perhaps, that they have to focus some localized reputation management in Hawaii, knowing that a lot of people there will be seeing the negative on the Web. It could also, but not necessarily, indicate a higher level of concern by residents of Hawaii, something worth correlating against other research sources.
  • Subjective information the company had received to the effect that Spanish language reputation-related communication was a lower priority than English was verified - rather conclusively - by Google Trends. Most searches for their name were in English...followed by French...followed by Chinese...followed in distant last by Spanish. The company considers this to be very useful strategic information.

When you look at a broader term, e.g., "crisis management," once again the results aren't what one might expect.

  • The top three languages in which the term is searched the most often are Greek, Tagalog and Finnish. English is fourth.
  • When you look at the top 10 cities, the first U.S. city is ranked 8th (Washington, D.C.), with the top ranked being Athens, Greece.
  • And when you look at the regional rankings, the U.S. doesn't even make the top 10, which starts with Pakistan and ends with Indonesia.

Google explains the ranking system as follows:

"When the Cities tab is selected, Google Trends first looks at a sample of all Google searches to determine the cities from which we received the most searches for your first term. Then, for those top cities, Google Trends calculates the ratio of searches for your term coming from each city divided by total Google searches coming from the same city. The city ranking you see on the page and the bar charts alongside each city name both represent this ratio. When cities' ratios are fairly close together, the corresponding bar graphs will be roughly the same length, and the exact ranking between these cities is less meaningful.

"The Regions and Languages tabs work just like the Cities tab. Google Trends uses IP address information from our server logs to make a best guess about where queries originated. Language information is determined by the language version of the Google site on which the search was originally entered.

"Keep in mind that instead of measuring overall interest in a topic, Google Trends shows users' propensity to search for that topic on Google on a relative basis. For example, just because a particular region isn't on the Top Regions list for the term "haircut" doesn't necessarily mean that people there have decided to stage a mass rebellion against society's conventions. It could be that people in that region might not use Google to find a barber, use a different term when doing their searches, or simply search for so many other topics unrelated to haircuts that searches for 'haircut' make up a very small portion of the search volume from that region when compared to other regions."

The explanation is followed by the usual caveats about the limitations of a feature still in beta-testing, the fact that not ALL of Google is included in the results, etc. Still, I've only just begun to think through the implications of this tool for my clients and I'm sure you'll start to do the same. If you play around with it and find additional applications related to crisis management, please let me know and I'll publish them! We all benefit from sharing this type of invaluable information.

Editor's Note: I don't think anyone can afford to ignore the possibility of a pandemic, simply because of the direct and indirect impacts such a catastrophe could have on all organizations. I have multiple clients who have asked for resources on preparing for a pandemic, and I was very pleased to trip across this "free to reprint with copyright noted" article by Tom Crouch. It's mostly a list of links -- links to what I agree are "must read" articles.

Pandemic & Mainstream Websites
By Tom Crouch, CPA, CIA, CISA, and Attorney

The corporate attorneys, risk managers, and auditors should take a look at the first two websites below, and a few of the other websites shown below. The business checklist shown on the first website might someday be viewed as the reasonably prudent business-person standard when we have the next pandemic. Also, the corporate directors and officers might need to review many of these websites.

When the websites included in this text are reviewed together, it will be evident that a few key documents are repeated several times. Prudent business people should read the key documents. These mainstream websites provide reliable information, which should not be ignored.

The first two websites shown below are among the best pandemic websites.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

U.S Chamber of Commerce

National Association of Manufacturers

American Bankers Association

Federal Reserve Board (& related agencies)

United States Securities and Exchange Commission

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

International Monetary Fund

World Health Organization

United Nations

Copyright 2006 by Tom Crouch

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We Are Our Own Worst Enemies
By Jonathan Bernstein

"New Jersey has 110 facilities that could pose risks, in some cases a catastrophe, to the public in the event of a disaster, according to a report released yesterday.

"An accident or attack at six of these - including three in South Jersey - would put one million people or more at risk, according to a list based on federal and state data compiled by the New Jersey Work Environment Council."

That report in the Philadelphia Inquirer then goes on to NAME the three highest-risk facilities, all purportedly for the purpose of encouraging higher levels of security for chemical facilities.

From an issues management perspective, I think the New Jersey Work Environment Council committed a horrendous blunder. There is no evidence that they tried to privately urge changes before going to the press, nor any recognition by the Council that New Jersey already has the toughest security standards in the nation. And by going to the press, they dramatically increased the prospect of terrorist attacks by so clearly identifying the vulnerability -- i.e., ultimately, they might have achieved the exact opposite of their alleged intention.

I am sickened by this type of ill-informed and self-serving muckraking. Public relations professionals in every industry need to help ensure that similar errors are not made by their employers or clients.


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.


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.

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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