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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2007 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,000+
Estimated Readership: 14,000+


There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.

Herbert Spencer


Speed Counts
By Rick Kelly

In dispensing crisis communications advice, we try to point clients toward "doing the right thing." But speed counts — "better late than never" doesn’t always help when a reputation is at stake, as this incident illustrates.

On Jan. 22, a retired carpenter was playing slot machines at a newly established casino in Pennsylvania, when the machine’s message board told him, by name, that he had won $102,000. Later, a casino official informed him that the message was an error. Instead of a big payout, the patron was offered two free trips through the buffet line.

Newspapers seldom can resist "Little Guy Gets Screwed" stories, and this was no exception. News articles appeared across the country.

Five days later, the CEO announced that the casino had decided to pay the customer $102,000, even though the notification apparently had been in error, and even though several gaming experts verified that the casino was not obligated to honor a mistaken jackpot. The CEO explained that the casino had decided that paying the customer was the right thing to do. Oh, and they gave him eight more comps for the buffet.

Regardless of whether it was the right thing, the damage to the casino’s reputation had already festered for nearly a week, driving potential patrons to competing venues and eliciting a barrage of snarky comments. Having already bought $102,000 worth of bad publicity, the casino might as well have kept the money.

Rick Kelly is Senior Associate Director of Crisis Communications for Harrisburg, PA-based TRIAD Strategies. Contact:

Prepare Your Employees & You Prepare Your Business
By Paul Purcell

Emergencies and disasters face us in the news every day, and once in a while they face us in our own backyards. Nature hits us from one direction and man from another, either by intentional terrorist attack, or through negligence or accident. Global warming will ensure increased weather disasters, and the number and severity of terrorist attacks and other manmade misfortunes have increased dramatically and will continue to do so.

After the one-two punch of 9/11 and Katrina, with several smaller jabs in between and since, the fine art of Business Continuity has become the great unfunded mandate of the private sector.

To date, we’ve all been inundated with information covering every nuance of IT protection, NIMS introductions, NFPA 1600 and B2S5999 compliance, and so on. Unfortunately, we’ve missed something:

One of the most overlooked aspects of business continuity planning is ensuring that the employee is safe and sound, and able to return to work as soon as possible.

Without your people, nothing functions. Consider this:

After Katrina, a large number of businesses and other organizations were negatively impacted, not because of storm damage, but because they had no idea as to where their employees had evacuated, or how to get in touch.

Key to this concept is disaster preparedness training for employees and their families.

The more prepared the employee’s family, the more able is the employee to report for duty after a disaster. Also, training your employees carries with it the distinct possibility that you’ve just improved their loyalty to the company.

Paul Purcell is a security analyst and preparedness consultant and is the author of Disaster Prep 101, which is available at

Websites Worth Visiting

Editor’s Note: I periodically share URLs of websites that have proven to be very useful to my crisis management business, often addresses my very helpful readers have called to my attention. So thank you to all who provided me with this information!

Legal Rights for Bloggers — the Electronic Frontier Foundation

When are you being defamed (or defaming someone else)? How do Intellectual Property laws impact us as bloggers? When is a blogger protected by the laws which also protect traditional media?

How Does the Hacker Economy Work?

Hacking is big business now, operated in a very organized criminal manner. This "Information Week" article describes that "murky world" beautifully. If you’re interested in protecting confidential information that would be valuable if stolen and sold, read this!

Get Human Database

There are two fundamental paths to improved profitability: make more and/or spend less. I have wasted a lot of productive, billable time trying to get a human being at any one of hundreds of vendor organizations to take my call and solve my problem. This superb database provides you with the best known phone numbers for everyone from AAA to XM Radio, including instructions on what to do when you reach the number (e.g., "press 0 and say ‘customer service.’).

Disaster Response Challenge: Could You Be First On The Scene?

The Disaster Response Challenge is a unique two-day event exclusive to the British Red Cross. It provides an opportunity for participants to experience firsthand the issues and decisions faced by the British Red Cross Emergency Response Unit (ERU) — something that only a handful of people get to experience in a lifetime.

Built around a hypothetical disaster that unfolds in real time, this Challenge tests the calmest and most practical of you as you develop your own ‘Disaster Response Plan’. You will be taken out of your comfort zone, into an environment where in real life your decisions would be a matter of life and death.

The Challenge is run by British Red Cross staff including experienced members of the ERU, and experts in Disaster Response logistics. Areas covered include logistics, communications, first aid and casualty evacuation and delegate security.

When: 20-22 April 2007
Where: Bramley, Hampshire
Booking fee: £50
Minimum sponsorship: £500 (All money raised through this event will benefit the work of the British Red Cross. £13,000 was raised in the September 2006 Disaster Response Challenge)
Contact: Clare Murray on 020 7382 4653 or


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:

Disaster Prep 101

Bernstein Crisis Management is pleased to present one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly family preparedness texts available today. "Disaster Prep 101." by Paul Purcell, goes above and beyond the simplistic "72-hour kit" concept and provides simple, yet detailed educational material that will drastically improve the ability of any family to respond to all manner of disasters or emergencies. This preparedness package contains over 400 pages of well-organized, original preparedness material written in an easy-to-understand, non-panic format; 80 pages of family data forms and worksheets (many of which are also useful to the employer); and a 2-CD set containing two interactive and searchable links collections for additional educational sources; all the family data forms and worksheets in softcopy format; and a complete emergency reference library of over 450 additional books and training manuals! US$59.95. Available here.


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