Good ABC’s of Crisis Management: A Book Review

A Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management is Jonathan Bernstein’s second book. His first, Keeping the Wolves at Bay, was on media training (despite what the creative title might suggest). There are two pieces of crisis management–operations and communications–and this book covers the basics of both.

It’s hard to touch on everything related to crisis planning, but this book does a good job. Bernstein calls crisis management “an art rather than a science” because he believes handling crises is not a formulaic operation.  It’s true, one template doesn’t fit all, but there are several pieces of crisis management that are predictable, and the book expounds on those regularities.

Bernstein labels three types of crises: creeping (the kind that goes unnoticed due to poor planning and monitoring), slow-burn (the type that lags forever such as lawsuits or internet activism), and sudden. He gives tips on working with all three and points out how effective crisis planning can benefit any organization. In fact, failure to plan could be catastrophic.

There’s no shortage of practical tips and advice in the book. They are presented in an easy-to-read manner with a series of key terms, smart managing tips, tricks of the trade, and cautions presented in graphic boxes with notifying icons.

The social media section of the book is a good inclusion (of course), and I would supplement (not contradict) his suggestions on monitoring software and online apps.   There is also a much-needed discussion of the relationship of legal to crisis. This is an ongoing tug-of-war, and anyone who works in crisis management needs to get a handle on the importance of working with legal.

He also includes several chapters with specific info: crises in publicly-owned companies, cultural issues, and how to hire a crisis consultant. The book is a good, short read and I recommend it highly for anyone whose organization may ever have a crisis (that’s everybody, folks).  As always, I’m on the lookout for good resources, so leave any you’ve found in the comments.


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