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+


The term "backup" should be applied to critical personnel, not just to computers. In times of crisis, you can't rely on being able to contact crisis response team members -- each of them should have at least one, ideally two, other people trained to step in as backup

Jonathan Bernstein


The Big Story
Editorial Update by Jonathan Bernstein

The story I've mentioned in multiple issues is still going to break, but the requirements of putting together a thorough investigative piece for television, butting up against the constraints of holiday scheduling, have postponed the airing of the big story I told you I had taken to a prominent news organization until sometime in January and even possibly early February. I still promise to give you the rest of the details here and on a special website after the program airs, BUT I can now tell you that the show is ABC's 20/20. I was there for the interviews with my client contacts and have had the great privilege and pleasure of working very closely with ABC's investigative team, to include providing them with almost all of the background and research material they needed to substantiate and develop the story. I've also had a fabulous team assisting me: Rick Kelly and Danielle Kozich of Triad Strategies, and Andy Russell of Nuforms Media. Stay tuned!

Crisis Management Connectivity & Accessibility
Part 1: Staying Online
By Jonathan Bernstein


If a crisis manager can't get online, retrieve his files and/or make a phone call when he needs to, business is severely impaired and his reputation is threatened. If there's anyone who needs to walk their talk on connectivity and accessibility, it's those of us who work in the field of crisis management. However, by extension, anyone who might end up becoming engaged in crisis response -- which by definition are most of the readers of my newsletter -- also need to have a very high level of connectivity and accessibility or at least be able to ramp up those levels as needed.

So I thought I'd start to share with you, in a series of short articles, how I attempt to achieve this goal, with some significant success. I also welcome your ideas for publication, and I'm always open to checking out new systems and technologies that could be of assistance. Please know that I can't write about everything I review, but if it impresses me it's bound to result in an article or two. And I also have to point out that what works for me, as a small consultancy operating as a virtual agency on larger cases, wouldn't necessarily work for others.

Staying Online

I need Internet and email access to operate my business at its peak efficacy. Ideally, I want to be able to continuously use my Outlook-based email system. Yet I found, often the hard way, that:

  • Some locations, even major hotels, don't have currently functioning Internet access.
  • Sometimes my local ISP "goes down" for an indeterminate period of time.
  • Client locations, given today's IT security needs, seldom afford me the ability to send email out from Outlook, although I may be able to access Web-based email if they will at least allow me to run my browser through their server.
  • On the go -- even in the back of a car -- I might want to receive or send email or access the Internet.

Here's what I do:

  • Ensure I Don't Rely On Any Single Service. You'll see what I mean as you read the rest of this.
  • Use Sprint PCS When No Broadband Is Available. I have two computers, my desktop and my notebook (usually used for travel but fully capable of replacing my desktop on a few minutes notice -- I'll talk about data backup and restoration in another article). At home or traveling, I can connect to the local broadband service by ethernet cable or wirelessly. But when that's not possible, I have a SPRINT PCS card for my notebook computer that allows me to get pretty-darn-fast Internet and email access using a service completely different than my primary ISP (Adelphia). For the non-technical, a PCS card is a special card-shaped device that slides into a slot on your notebook computer and which is able to call into the SPRINT network wirelessly. Verizon, Cingular, T-mobile and, I believe, other services have their own PCS cards, SPRINT just happens to be the fastest-speed service I could find in my local market.
  • Use My Cingular-powered Blackberry When Needs Must. Face it, typing on a computer (at least for an experienced keyboard user) is one heck of a lot easier than thumbing a Blackberry keyboard. However, I have found my Blackberry to have multiple uses in the area of connectivity and accessibility:
    • It gives me a third Internet service to use if no others are available.
    • Its Internet/browser access is quite decent.
    • I can and do maintain a separate Blackberry email address for my clients to use in the event of urgent communications AND in the event that my primary email server is down. I choose not to "sync" my Outlook email with the Blackberry, the volume of regular email (I tried it once) just buries the tiny device.
    • Oh yeah -- it's a telephone too, one which has powerful data duplication capability (i.e., storing every contact and appointment from my Outlook program).

  • Host My Email And Website On Yet Another Service. I use a relatively small but very reliable service, BAPORT.COM, to host my Bernstein Crisis Management website and my email. Hence, even at home, if Adelphia has crashed, I can use my SPRINT PCS card to retrieve my email from the BAPORT server. If BAPORT goes down, and it has, it still has a backup system which stores incoming emails and eventually gets them to me -- and I alert my clients to cc my Blackberry address until further notice.
  • Become Skilled At The Use Of Wi-Fi Sites. If you are going to be engaged in any form of crisis response, it is an essential, not optional, skill to become VERY familiar with how to access your email and other Internet functions from a "wi-fi site" -- i.e., anywhere where wireless access can be found, which could even be your local Starbucks. AND, to know how to operate securely from such a site. I'm pretty good at this but I don't feel competent to "train" you in the techniques. Rather, I strongly urge you to get your IT department, or even the "Geek Squad" from your local computer store, to do so ASAP.

Ummm...I did start off by saying a series of "short" articles and I'm not doing too well at truncating this one. So I'll stop!

Editor's Note: Paul Purcell does a marvelous job in this article of teaching us how too help others overcome their natural resistance to preparing for disasters. While the focus of this article is on individual preparedness, the impact on organizations is obvious. Think about it. We certainly put taking care of our families ahead of taking care of our employers. If we're not properly prepared at home for disaster response, it will take us a lot longer to get back to work, so prudent employers HELP their employees with at-home preparedness.

The Secrets Of Teaching Disaster Preparedness
By Paul Purcell

Headlines are full of hurricanes, earthquakes, bird flu, terrorism, and other dangers of the world in which we live. However, most civilians arenÕt prepared to face a disaster or even a family emergency. This begs the question "Why not?" This article is intended for those who want to change this fact by teaching others, including their own families, to be better prepared, safer, and more self-reliant.

WeÕve identified several "learning obstacles" that prevent individuals and families from being as emergency ready as they should be. WeÕll list them here quickly then cover each in more detail and discuss ways to jump these learning hurdles.

Since weÕre talking about educating families — the cornerstone of all reaction plans - letÕs use the acronym F.A.M.I.L.I.E.S.:

Fear — "ItÕs too scary to think about."

Attention Span — "IÕm too busy to learn or do anything new."

Media — "ThereÕs always a weatherman in the hurricane."

Info Levels Now — "A 72-hour kit is all I need."

Lifestyle Ties — "I donÕt want to change the way I live."

Income — "I canÕt afford to buy the gear or take the steps."

Ego — "IÕm so important that others will look after me."

Selflessness — "IÕm not worried about me, I want to help others."

Why is it important to increase the level of civilian preparedness training over what we have through sites like That question can be a series of articles on its own, but the 4-part short answer is one, most free websites have only the bare minimum info; two, the fewer victims we have in a disaster the better off weÕll all be; three, all business continuity plans rest on the ability of employees to return to work; and four, the term "civilians" includes the families of first responders. The more prepared the family, the more able is the responder to report for duty.

As we cover each learning obstacle below, youÕll find a brief description of the problem followed by a few specific tips on how to deal with that particular issue. When teaching, remember that people have different learning styles. Visual learners do best by watching. They are receptive to videos, PowerPoint, or live demos. Auditory learners prefer verbal communication such as podcasts, or books on tape. Kinesthetic learners benefit from hands-on experience. Try to incorporate a little of each into your presentations.


Fear is probably the number one reason people donÕt prepare. Too many people focus on the dangers they may face in disasters, rather than the benefits of self-reliance. Worse, many so-called experts dwell on nothing but the threat since they have little to no new preparedness information. LetÕs look at ways to teach readiness while avoiding fear:

  1. Take a tip from insurance salespeople. They focus on the benefits of the policy rather than the reasons you might need one. Accentuate the positives of preparedness, not worst case scenarios.
  2. Use "mundane" threats to get people to prepare for more dire situations. For example, people living on the coast understand hurricanes and are receptive to helpful tips regarding evacuation. However, you might get a negative reaction with a "nuke in the harbor" scenario.
  3. Teach preparedness without mentioning a threat. For example, focus on financial planning. ItÕs more economical to buy groceries in bulk and cook at home, and itÕs also healthier. Guess what? This means youÕll have more food at home in a shelter-in-place situation. Also, encouraging families to take up camping as a hobby inadvertently helps prepare them for an evacuation.

Attention Span

With microwave ovens, ATMs, email, and so forth, we live in a world of instant gratification. We have become a society whose mantra is "Just give me the condensed intro, not the whole pamphlet." We rarely take time to do a thorough and detailed job of anything, and the notion of adding things to the list, even something life-saving, is out of the question.

  1. Most people donÕt realize that being prepared for disaster takes only subtle modifications to your life and doesnÕt require extensive study or training.
  2. People in this category appreciate "helpful hints," so break things down into bite-size pieces. Use simple (though detailed and thorough) checklists and bulleted lists rather than wordy text or long speeches. For one such list, see 50 Emergency Uses for Your Camera Phone at
  3. Show them how some aspects of preparedness can save time. For example, having more food in the pantry saves shopping time. Also, being current and comprehensive with your insurance policies and personal documentation will save months worth of time getting your life back on track after a disaster.


News channels can be a double-edged sword. TheyÕre great for emergency warnings, but sometimes contradict themselves. For example, weather stations will pass along evacuation warnings in advance of a hurricane, but then theyÕll send a reporter out in the middle of it to give a live report. Some people see this and think hurricanes are no big deal. WeÕve seen the same in minor chemical spills. Let your preparedness students know that:

  1. Things are always smaller and friendlier on TV than in real life. A picture of a snake isnÕt the least bit alarming. However, turn one loose in your classroom.... (No, donÕt actually do this!)
  2. News sources live and die on ratings, viewers, and subscribers, and therefore take risks. However, these are usually controlled risks, since, for example, the weather reporters are usually in a side area and not in the direct path of the eye of the hurricane. So donÕt do what they do, do what they say.

Info Levels Now

Most "emergency" sites on the internet with "readiness information" have nothing but variations of the 72-hour kit checklist. The other end of the spectrum finds all the "survivalist" info concerning edible plants and living off the land. These two extremes can mislead the public in two distinct ways. One, the simplistic info might tell people that a 72-hour kit is all theyÕll need and the government will come protect them. Two, the other extreme relates to fear since it tends to tell people that "things will be so bad that youÕll need these survival skills." The extremes should be avoided. Shoot for the more realistic middle ground.

  1. "72-hour" kits are the absolute minimum. Recommending only a 72-hour kit is like telling a family on a vacation road-trip to get only enough gas to get to the next exit where there might be another station.
  2. If you teach outdoor survival skills, remind people that these skills arenÕt the very next option after their 72-hour kit runs out. TheyÕre there for the most severe cases in isolated incidents.
  3. Bridge the gap between these extremes by providing instruction on how families can use simple measures to stay safe and secure for up to four weeks, either during an evacuation or extended shelter-in-place. A good example is the four weeks of food and water stored in the pantry. Four weeks is a more realistic figure and fills the void between simple kits and survival skills.
  4. For more thoughts, see The Disaster Dozen: The Top Twelve Myths of Disaster Preparedness at

Lifestyle Ties

Essentially, this is another form of fear. ItÕs the fear of changing oneÕs lifestyle to incorporate readiness, and itÕs the fear of losing oneÕs current lifestyle in the wake of a disaster. Two points come into play here.

  1. One of the main goals of true readiness training is the preservation of our lifestyle as we know it, and not just mere physical survival. Therefore when discussing disasters, cover their aftermath and what it will take for families to return to normal. DonÕt cut the subject short.
  2. Realistic preparedness doesnÕt involve major changes, but incorporates subtle modifications to the things we already have and do. For example, the simple habit of topping off your vehicleÕs gas tank three times a week is easy to develop and ensures you have as much fuel as possible in an emergency. Simple task, powerful results, no appreciable change in your lifestyle.


Many people see ads for high-priced "disaster" goods and gear and assume that protecting their family will be a major financial investment. This isnÕt necessarily the case. If done correctly, protective measures can actually save a family money, or at least zero itself out on your household budget.

  1. In our discussion of the 4-week pantry we pointed out how storing this much food could actually save time and money.
  2. You donÕt need to buy expensive gear. In fact, we recommend finding things you need at thrift stores or yard sales, and in other cases, making your own gear. For example, our "mess kits" were made with leftover plastic dishes from microwave dinners.
  3. Part of any comprehensive family preparedness training should include a section on frugality, or how a family might save money by reducing expenses and through better household budgeting.


Ego can also be called self-esteem, and this can either go high or low. In the case of high self-esteem, some people may think, "IÕm so important that others will take care of me." Low self-esteem carries its own peculiarities as well. These folks might think, "No one will help me," or "Nothing exciting ever happens here, so why prepare?" Though not directly ego-related, many people hold that same belief that "Nothing will happen here. Things happen to other people."

  1. Since we want to avoid generating fear, donÕt fight the "IÕll be taken care of" attitude with stories of how bad things could get. Instead, use this high self-esteem by pointing out that one reason people donÕt prepare is because their friends donÕt. Therefore, tell this group the truth that they can help get others to prepare by being prepared themselves, and setting an example.
  2. People with low self-esteem should be shown that self-reliance really is possible for them. These folks have low confidence levels. Once they see examples of how easy it is to be far more prepared and protected than they are, theyÕll appreciate their new confidence and may continue their education on their own.


Many people are so concerned about others that they neglect themselves. This is one of the reasons we see incidents of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in people that were never in the actual emergency. This type of distant stress is caused when these folks see bad things happen to other people but they canÕt do anything about it.

  1. A good reminder for this group is that youÕre more able to help others if you yourself are well prepared. And guess what? "Others" includes pets!

  2. In the stocked pantry example, youÕve helped others by already having your supplies, which makes for shorter lines and more stock on the shelves when the unprepared make that last-minute scramble for supplies at the grocery store.

  3. You also help others by setting the example that preparedness is socially acceptable, much in the same way that we wear our seatbelts so our children will.

The most important point of all is that your main goal is to teach both the importance and techniques of disaster preparedness in order to make our world safer. So, we have one last acronym for you; the word T.E.A.C.H.

Treat each family member as unique.

Emphasize the benefits and not the threat.

Allow for different learning styles and speeds.

Confidence building is goal number one.

Help others to help themselves, and to then help others in turn.

Paul Purcell is a security analyst and preparedness consultant and is the author of "Disaster Prep 101." More articles by Paul can be found at: Copyright 2006 Paul Purcell.

Red-hot White Papers

Market Sentinel, is, according to its website, "a leading supplier of blog and web monitoring services to UK and international blue chip customers in the telecommunications, internet, automotive and energy sectors." And it also has published some outstanding white papers on measuring the impact of bloggers and how to fight back against damaging blogs. You can get them free at:

Crisis Management Firm Created To Defend Former Bushies

Apparently, two former Justice Department spokespersons -- one lawyer, one PR person — have joined forces for the initial purpose of defending Bush administration officials likely to be under Democratic-controlled Congressional investigation in the months ahead. Corallo Comstock is the agency created by Mark Corallo and Barbara Comstock. Talk about niche marketing! More 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:

Have Webcam And Videoconferencing, Will Consult
An Offer from Jonathan Bernstein

Would you like to bring me to your next staff or board meeting, virtually, to conduct some training on crisis preparedness, crisis response, or "just" to give a good solid orientation on the subject of crisis management? There's a great value to "face time," but sometimes the cost and time required for travel make it impossible. If you or your IT department can allow a webcam stream into your computer (and better yet if you can send one back), we don't need no stinkin' high-tech, we can do this lower tech. I am constantly trying to bring more affordable services to clients who may not have the budget for other options, so this is an experiment. I have a webcam and am happy to bill by the hour for short-term consulting if this option is of interest. There is also a videoconferencing facility very close to my office if you would like to use that instead. Call 626-825-3838 or write to

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


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


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.

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