© 2007 Jonathan Bernstein
Estimated Readership: 15,000+
JUST A THOUGHT
Refusal to believe until proof is given is a rational position; denial of all outside of our own limited experience is absurd.
CRISIS MANAGER UNIVERSITY
Las Vegas - A Disaster Waiting To Happen
Editorial by Jonathan Bernstein
Consider the following lead from a Reuters story on August 15, 2007:
"In July, a possibly suicidal man stood above the casino floor at the 2,024-room New York, New York hotel in Las Vegas and fired 16 shots from a semiautomatic gun, wounding four people.
"This month, a dispute over a woman at a nightclub in the famed Caesar's Palace hotel ended with two men shot. In May, an explosive device in the parking lot of another Strip hotel, the Luxor, left a Mexican fast-food employee dead.
"During each of these incidents, private hotel security heavily supplemented a local police force struggling to keep up with a rapidly growing population in one of the world's most prominent tourist destinations."
At this point in world history, does anyone doubt that it's a matter of time before suicide bombers are a fact of life in the United States, just as they already are in many other Western nations? Bombers were a reality even "back in the day" when I was part of Military Intelligence covert ops that sought to stop a group called the Baader Meinhof Gang from blowing up military bases -- the threat is obviously worse today.
There is probably no location in the United States more representative of the luxury centered, "decadent" lifestyle abhorred by the fanatics who have sworn to kill us than Las Vegas. There are few locations where so many people are congregated in such small places, optimizing the horrific impact of shrapnel. Tragically, other "All American" locations are probably also high on the target list, to include major theme parks such as Disneyland and renowned shopping malls such as Mall of the Americas, both of them icons of Americana. Still, the economy of Las Vegas, the economy of Nevada, the economy of all gambling-centered towns and even countries, could be dramatically harmed by a successful terrorist attack on Las Vegas.
No matter how much we loathe the terrorist forces which threaten us, no one thinks they're stupid people. Quite the opposite. They have proven themselves, usually, to be smarter than the governments who are trying to destroy them. People that smart must realize the impact of an attack on Las Vegas.
It's too bad that the businesspeople who control Las Vegas don't seem to realize that.
The Reuters article reported some improvement in private security. But a reliable source of mine who spoke on condition of anonymity (wow, does that hearken back to my investigative reporting days), a true "Vegas insider," said,
"I haven't noticed any increased security. In fact, the only security, other than plainclothes and uniforms in the casino,I've seen is at the Venetian, where a security guard simply waves cars into the parking lot. It seems like a 'this can't happen to me' view at each casino, where clearly the focus is on everyday crime, e.g. rowdies, fights, disorderly conduct, cheaters. They don't want to do anything to upset the gaming industry. Frankly,
any Caucasian, well dressed and clean, could walk into virtually any casino with a suitcase and wreak havoc."
There's clearly a desire not to impede visitors from giving away their money by, say, subjecting them to more stringent security measure prior to entering establishments. There's also a definite sense of denial and delusion regarding crisis preparedness - i.e., development of crisis communications plans to be implemented in the event of an actual incident, with related training and simulations. Such planning, along with improved screening and education of both visitors and residents, can at least reduce risk and minimize the long-term impact of a successful attack.
I am going to get absolutely no satisfaction out of saying "I told you so" when the inevitable occurs. I only hope that, in the interim, we hear the loud "POP!" which occurs when heads come out of......the sand.
Editor's Note: I ran across this excellent article about how to prevent product-related crises and, while I was unsuccessful at getting permission to reprint it in full, I did get permission to link to it and strongly recommend that you read it.
Product Safety: Don't Let A Crisis Turn Into A Disaster
By Tom Stocker
With Mattel recalling 18 million toys and Cadbury on the receiving end of a conviction for making and distributing unsafe chocolate, many manufacturers will be looking again at what they can do in the event of a product safety problem.
Read the full article at http://www.out-law.com/page-8392
Bridge Collapses And So Does Congressman's Credibility
By Rick Kelly
In the wake of the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis comes the following lesson on the value of engaging one's brain in advance of one's mouth.
A couple of days before the bridge collapsed, a Pennsylvania congressman had launched an effort to block the proposed tolling of Interstate 80 in his home state. Following the tragedy in the Twin Cities, a reporter from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review checked back in to see whether the event had altered the congressman's thinking.
His spokesperson replied, "One headline in the news isn't going to change his position."
According to one report, fixing the nation's infrastructure will require more than a trillion dollars. Coincidentally, there are probably about a trillion better ways to have represented the congressman's position.
While the spokesperson probably didn't set out to trivialize or minimize the misfortune of others, that's precisely how it came across. The spokesperson might as well have said, "The congressman's position on this issue is far more important than the deaths of a few people in Minnesota."
A colleague of mine, when training spokespeople, is fond of saying, "People won't care what you say until you say that you care." (In fact, I am also fond of saying it, having shamelessly stolen it from her.)
It's a good rule to keep in mind when communicating about any crisis, even if the crisis is not your own.
Rick Kelly is director of crisis communications for Triad Strategies LLC, www.triadstrategies.com, a Pennsylvania-based public affairs firm. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS)
Thank you to reader Brooke Ruskin for sending me a link to a study about Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS) and how such systems (fixed and electronic road signs, special websites, special radio channels, etc.) can be better employed for disaster management. Go to: http://tinyurl.com/2ht39z
There was no August 15 issue of "Crisis Manager" due to your editor being in the midst of managing too many simultaneous crises! Reminded me of the famous Kissinger quote, "There can't be a crisis next week, my calendar is already full."
CRISIS MANAGER BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENTS
Crisis Management Enhanced By Sightspeed
SIERRA MADRE, Calif., Sept. 5, 2007 - Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. has selected SightSpeed, the fastest growing video communications company on the Web, to deliver immediate media training and crisis consulting services directly to executive desktops anywhere there is a broadband connection.
Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, said, "No telephone connection can substitute for face-to-face communication, but when a crisis is breaking there's often no time to meet, even if you're in the same town. With SightSpeed, my clients and I can swap voice and image with excellent clarity, and they can even project my face onto any viewing surface if they have other people in the room, like their crisis response team."
SightSpeed offers video calling and multi-party video conferencing services over the Internet enabling consumers and businesses to communicate face to face anytime, from anywhere. Named 2007 Company of the Year by industry analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, SightSpeed offers best-in-class video and voice over IP (VVoIP) that is east to set up and use. Beyond video calling and multi-party conferencing, users can record and publish videos to blogs, Websites and emails.
"There is no better way to communicate than face-to-face and SightSpeed is committed to bringing the power of in-person communication to businesses and consumers everywhere, "said Peter Csathy, chief executive officer, SightSpeed. "Jonathan is at the leading edge of his industry by using SightSpeed to transform the practice of crisis management."
Bernstein, based in Southern California, has already used SightSpeed to give refresher media-training to an East Coast client and is encouraging all clients and business contacts, worldwide, to adopt the technology.
"SightSpeed also enables any organization to send video emails and generate code that can embed the video on a website, all in minutes," said Bernstein. "The uses for crisis-related messaging are obvious, but some of my clients are also picking up on how they might use SightSpeed for more routine promotional purposes as well, as have I."
To see a SightSpeed video conversation between Jonathan Bernstein and Peter Csathy about the relationship between Bernstein Crisis Management and SightSpeed, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/2fal6o
About Bernstein Crisis Management
Bernstein Crisis Management is a 13-year-old national consultancy providing the full range of crisis management services: vulnerability assessment, planning, training and simulations.
SightSpeed, Inc. is the leading provider of free and premium Internet video and voice communications services (VVoIP and VoIP). The SightSpeed community and software enable consumers and small businesses to make the best quality video and voice calls and to send video mail over the Internet. SightSpeed's award winning service turns a PC or Mac into an easy-to-use video phone to communicate with friends, family and colleagues around the world. SightSpeed's revolutionary human perception based technology is patented and based on more than eight years of research at Cornell University. SightSpeed is privately held and headquartered in Berkeley, California. For more information, send an email to email@example.com.
PLAIN ENGLISH DISCLOSURE
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.
ABOUT THE EDITOR & PUBLISHER
Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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