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

Crisis Manager Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management

© 2007 Jonathan Bernstein
Circulation: 4,000+
Estimated Readership: 15,000+


It's remarkable how many corporate executives don't understand that the 'e' in email stands for both evidence and eternal.

Joseph Grundfest, a professor at Stanford Law School,
quoted in "The Wall Street Journal"


Editor's Note: Since OhNo the Ostrich is the logo for the online version of this ezine, I was particularly pleased when my distinguished colleague, David Davis, produced this lovely checklist. Not only does David have the professional background described below the article but, by bizarre coincidence, he and I learned that we had both survived a period of time at the same private British boarding school, albeit a few years apart.

"Ostrich viewpoint" checklist
By David Davis

Most business continuity managers are aware of the importance of protecting brands, but how do you determine how at-risk your brands are?

Here's a 20 point check list that is designed to dispel the "It can't happen to us" mindset, more properly described as the Ostrich Viewpoint.

1. Brand attack: where the brand or image is knowingly attacked by others who might have a vested interest in the demise or decay of your business

2. Price wars: where competition necessitates narrow profit margins that prove to be unsustainable without compromising other aspects of the product or service.

3. Brand confusion: where one brand is confused with another and suffers as a result of the confusion.

4. Slip of the tongue: where a casual or flippant remark in an unguarded moment leads to a derogatory story or a detrimental interpretation.

5. Health and safety issues: where the brand or image is likely to be associated with what are perceived to be harmful outcomes.

6. Quality issues: where doubts are cast on the suitability of the product or service or the value for money it represents

7. Legislation: can affect the brand or image in all sorts of ways. Infringements of existing legislation are one aspect and changes of legislation are another.

8. Trade barriers: where restrictions are imposed or removed. This may be a direct impact where a company's products are subjected to changes or it an indirect impact where someone else's products or services are subjected to changes.

9. Translation problems: often occur when a name, a phrase or a title has a rather unfortunate meaning in another language. They can also occur when the quality of the translation is poor and the meaning gets lost or distorted.

10. Transcription or transmission errors: those typographical errors that have the unfortunate effect of completely changing the meaning from something helpful to something rather inconvenient.

11. Economic variations: those local or international forces that may have serious financial consequences beyond our direct control. Often the brand can suffer as a result of the response to such variations.

12. Religious issues: where the product or service has a religious connotation. Sometimes this is intentional by the nature or design of a product or it may be purely accidental though incomplete knowledge of others' beliefs.

13. Racial issues: those where the product or services has a racial connotation this would normally be purely accidental through lack of knowledge or it might occur through some change of fashion or custom.

14. Environmental issues: where the public, or sections of the public, have real or imagined concerns about the environmental impact of a product in its manufacture, distribution or its use.

15. Animal rights issues: where the public, or sections of the public, have real or imagined concerns about the impact on animal life. These issues are often concerned with research and development programmes which may, or may not, use animals for experimental purposes.

16. Human rights issues: where the public, or sections of the public, have real or imagined concerns about their rights or the rights of others.

17. Implication by association: where a company, its products or services are deemed to be in league with others who have a poor image some reason or another.

18. Forces of nature: where the destructive forces of nature have a detrimental effect on the way in which a company sources its materials, creates its products or delivers its services. In a long and complex supply chance there are often many opportunities for nature to interfere.

19. Personal issues: where the brand, or image, is liable to suffer simply because of its association with an individual who appears to have offended the public though his or her actions, words or beliefs.

20. Criminal acts: where someone closely associated with the brand or image appears to have committed a criminal act.

David Davis is Head of Communications for UK-based Docleaf,, which is quite possibly the world's premier travel industry crisis management consultancy. David was formerly vice chairman of international PR giant Edelman, and entered the PR field following a distinguished career in journalism.

Train Your Employees And Family Members To Be Alert
A Terse Warning from Jonathan Bernstein

I know it's easy to get sick of all the color-coded alerts, but if you'd like to be the one to catch a terrorist instead of being the one blown up, I strongly recommend that you pay attention to what I'm about to say.

If you live in a country like the United States, or any other location where terrorism isn't commonplace as it has been in the UK (thanks to the IRA, first, and now Al Qaeda), Israel and many other locations, it's very easy, too easy, to get complacent.

As a crisis management professional, as a former counter-terrorism operative, I am telling you, unequivocally, that in the near future suicide bombers will strike your country as well, if you live anywhere that Al Qaeda and its allied organizations considers to be opposed to its interests. I'm not talking about attacks at airports, but about attacks in shopping malls, at amusement parks, in any location where crowds gather. Based on reports from around the world, it has been alert citizens as much as alert security forces of any kind who have sometimes spotted suspicious behavior in time to prevent or at least reduce injuries.

Your local FBI office and/or police agency can connect you with trainers who can come to your workplace and tell you what to look for and how to minimize your risk. And then you can share that information with your loved ones.

Law enforcement and related personnel simply don't have the manpower to do it all. Each of us has a responsibility to detect and prevent terrorism. If we don't accept that responsibility, then we are partially responsible for the results of our neglect. There is no such thing as inaction. Make the right choice.

Special Note To My Law Enforcement Readers:

If anyone would like to provide me with a "terrorism detection checklist" or something like that which I could share with readers, that would be a tremendous service!

Editor's Note: Welcome Pam Baggett-Wallis back to the pages of "Crisis Manager" with this succinct description of how an American high schooler bested the garrulous and often bullying Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox Television's "The O'Reilly Factor."

And The Little Children Shall Lead The Way
By Pamela Baggett-Wallis

He's not so little, but a high school junior who recently took on Fox's Bill O'Reilly conducted his interview in the most professional and assertive manner I've ever seen!

O'Reilly bragged that his show was "the driving force behind the controversy at Boulder High School in Colorado in April. Four adults were allowed to address the students in an assembly about drugs and sex. All the panelists were far left individuals and they encouraged illegal drug use and indiscriminate sexual activity."

He introduced two students, one who agreed with him and the other, Jesse Lange, who did not. O'Reilly, showing favoritism, gave the first young man plenty of time to express his opposition to what the adults said. When it was Lange's turn, O'Reilly stepped on Lange's comments and responses. But the young man was unflappable.

1. He wore a suit and tie in counterpoint to the knit sport shirt worn by the teen presenting an opposing view.

2. He was respectful but firmly presented his point of view.

3. He was totally prepared with the exact words of the maligned speaker. The direct quotation disproved the contention that the speaker promoted drug use. Jesse held to his quotes in spite of what O'Reilly said.

4. Jesse then turned the tables, quoting from a section of O'Reilly's book for kids, despite being instructed prior to the show not to. O'Reilly said Jesse was quoting him out of context. What fun!

5. The best part, in my opinion, was when O'Reilly called Jesse a pinhead. Jesse took the high road and ignored what could have been a rabbit trail that would take up precious seconds and eliminate the opportunity to address the real issue.

This young man has a terrific future ahead of him. Watch for his name in the next decade.

Pamela Baggett-Wallis is CEO of Persuasion Communication, LLC,, which specializes in crisis management and issue advocacy.

Are You Linked In?

I consider LinkedIn,, to be one of the most powerful networking tools available today. With a large extended network, crisis managers can find the right assistance in a hurry, when they need it.

I'd love to network with any "Crisis Manager" readers who are already part of LinkedIn or sign up for it. My LinkedIn page is at:

or you can just enter my name at the LinkedIn home page. Then invite me to link with you!


Keeping The Wolves At Bay 3.0 Reviewed

"Keeping the Wolves at Bay" is much more than another media training guide — it is perhaps one of the most concise, insightful, useful and savvy guides to strategic thinking about reputation issues available.

Gerald Baron
Founder & CEO of PIER System and host of

It's like a Swiss Army knife — lots of cool tools in a compact package. In case of emergency, grab this.

Steven R. Van Hook, PhD
Publisher, About Public Relations

The spiral-bound print manual is available for $25, the PDF version for $10. Both can be ordered at

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,


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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