Ono the Ostrich CRISIS MANAGER
The Internet Newsletter about Crisis Management 
 Editor: Erik Bernstein 
 Publisher: Jonathan Bernstein

"For Those Who Are Crisis Managers,
Whether They Want to be or Not"

© 2016 Jonathan Bernstein

Will Blue Bell's Return Set the Tone for Chipotle Recovery?

Volume XVII, Number 1

January 15, 2016     
Just a Thought  
"The formulation of a public relations strategy properly begins with listening, not talking."

Leonard Saffir
From the Editor 
As Chipotle is being bombarded with issues stemming from customer illness incidents involving E. coli and norovirus, the recently beleaguered Blue Bell is bringing its ice cream back to store shelves. 
Blue Bell has really amped up the communication for its return, putting out multiple press releases sharing information which has been widely distributed to the media and promoted with a splash screen right on its main website. This is especially important because a big part of what made the creamery's crisis so dangerous to start with was a severe lack of messaging, and in particular a seeming lack of compassion for those affected.
Of course, Blue Bell's return hasn't been stumble-free. A statement released January 7 was meant to detail enhanced testing procedures and safety protocol, but instead spooked shoppers when some media outlets took the sentence, "We have identified locations where suspected Listeria species may be present in our facility, and we continue to extensively clean and sanitize those areas and make additional enhancements to the facility and our procedures based on the environmental test results" to mean that contaminated product was once again an issue.

A quick clarification (and likely frenzied behind-the-scenes effort by the company's crisis and media teams) laid that issue to rest, with corrections and stories featuring their updated statement clarifying that, "we have identified suspected areas where bacteria may be present but in no case have we confirmed Listeria monocytogenes." Also violating a tenet of effective public communications - if you use jargon, explain it in plain English as well.

Does it seem a bit risky to tell the public that any areas have been identified as possibly containing bacteria? At first glance, yes. But think about it - would you rather know a food manufacturer which had previous issues was actively identifying, dealing with, and talking about potential risks, or hear about it when the media digs through records from regulators and reports it instead?

Higher ups at Chipotle are all but certain to be watching Blue Bell closely, and if they're smart they'll take notes on what works and what doesn't. As for Blue Bell itself, the crisis is certainly not over, but they're making great strides and barring further incident and the always-present risk of major market shifts, it should be possible to fully recover.
- EB
Interested in reprinting BCM articles or blog posts?
We're happy to give permission for material to be reprinted in hard copy or online!

If you find something you would like to reprint, simply submit a request to jonathan@bernsteincrisismanagement.com.



The Bernstein Crisis Management blog, along with our blog at the Free Management Library are frequently updated and filled with case studies, advice, and the latest news on techniques, threats, and more.

Here, we share a look at some of the most popular posts from recent weeks:

When it comes to setting aside limited budget funds for crisis management efforts it often takes hard facts to convince decision makers. If you need some ammo for your next conversation, Chipotle and the Cost of Crisis has plenty.

In today's reputation-centric business world, Brand Citizenship and Crisis Management go hand-in-hand.

Nonprofits share many of the same issues that plague their for-profit cousins, along with unique challenges of their own. Nonprofit Communication and Crisis Management examines trends in how these orgs will do business over the coming year, and what you can expect to make a major impact.

Like it or not, the internet and social media have forced communications to be a two-way street. Crisis Management Quotables...on a Dialogue with Millions takes a quote pointing out this fact and dives deeper into the subject.

We got specific with nonprofit comms, but what about specific trends for all businesses? Don't panic! Business Communications in 2016 is waiting for you.

When it Comes to Hacks, Don't Count on Disclosure. It's unfortunate but true. If Microsoft didn't inform over 1,000 Hotmail users that their accounts had been compromised then why assume other services will tell you?

Drawing an interesting comparison between the human body and corporate apologies, Anatomy of a Corporate Apology delves into what it takes to make, "We're sorry" stick.

Do you have a topic you'd like to see featured in our blogs? Send an email to erik@bernsteincrisismanagement.com and there's a good chance you'll be seeing it right here in the next issue!
Business Announcements 
(aka blatant self-promotion) 
Are There Any Holes in Your Crisis Planning?

Your organization may well have crisis prevention and response-related plans in place - but are you sure they're going to cover all the bases?  Bernstein Crisis Management's Crisis Document Audit is a low-cost, flat-rate service which will quickly provide you with a comprehensive analysis of your existing plans and recommendations for improvement.

Contact jonathan@bernsteincrisismanagement.com for more information.

We're Giving Away Keeping the Wolves at Bay

Keeping the Wolves at Bay, the widely used media-training manual published by Jonathan Bernstein, is now being given away in its PDF format. Formerly $10, there will be no charge for the publication as long as demand exists. 

To visit the download page, click here.

Exciting New Services from Bernstein Crisis Management

We are are proud to introduce two new services that will allow us to better meet the needs of our clients! 

First, from entering new markets to defending billion-dollar established industries, BCM's public affairs practice, led by twenty year veteran Greg Brooks, will help you win the battle for the hearts and minds of audiences from City Council to the halls of Congress.

Our second addition is based on the belief that an important piece in managing a crisis includes attending to the emotional reactions that influence the outcome. Presented and facilitated by Steven Degelsmith, Ph.D., our focused human factors in crisis management service will equip you with the tools you need to handle even the most volatile of situations.
Social Media Crisis Training

A solid social media manager has quickly become a must-have for organizations of any size, and can make an immense difference by driving in customers and building your positive reputation online.

The problem is, the vast majority are simply not equipped to even identify building crises, much less take the steps necessary to cope with and mitigate the damage that can result.

That's where we come in.

Bernstein Crisis Management is now offering crisis management training for social media managers, both independent and in-house, as well as social media firms.

For an overview of our services, estimates, or more information, contact erik@bernsteincrisismanagement.com

About Us



Jonathan Bernstein is both publisher of Crisis Manager and 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 Jonathan at:

Erik Bernstein is vice president of Bernstein Crisis Management. Erik started with BCM in 2009 as a writer and subsequently became social media manager for the consultancy itself as well as for a number of BCM clients before moving to the VP position.


Write to Erik at: 

Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. is located at 700 S. Myrtle Ave., #404, Monrovia, CA 91016. Telephone: (626) 825-3838.


Legal Disclaimer (aka the small print)

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.  


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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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Just A Thought
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