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Brian Grulke

Johnathan Bernstein, Crisis Manager
By Brian Grulke

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The following is an interview with Jonathan Bernstein of the Crisis Manager ezine. Crisis Manager is a semi-monthly email newsletter written on the public relations specialty of crisis management. It has been created to serve those who end up being crisis managers, whether they want to be or not. Each issue contains tips for crisis prevention and management, a crisis management case history and a reader-participation question-and-answer section. Hope you enjoy it.

Brian Grulke: Hi Jonathan. Give us a short description of your ezine.

Jonathan Bernstein: Crisis Manager is a free, plain-text email ezine on the public relations specialty of Crisis Management, written "for those who are Crisis Managers, whether they want to be or not."

BG: Why did you choose the subject of your ezine?

JB: It's the subject I know best and there was no competition -- nice combo, huh?

BG: How did you build your subscriber list? Did you use any unconventional methods of promoting your list?

JB: "Poor Richard's Email Publishing" was my bible for both creating my ezine and building my list. Unconventionally, I encouraged client companies to make Crisis Manager mandatory reading for their staff, and some have.

BG: So how much time does your list require daily?

JB: The list itself requires no more than minutes daily, unless I'm answering questions from List-Tips. The newsletter requires about 6-7 hours per month of my time and an equal amount of time from my wife and Webmistress, Celeste, who formats the HTML version of "Crisis Manager" for our archives.

BG: What do you feel makes your list stand out from the competition?

JB: There are online source of information on Crisis Management, albeit not much in the way of email newsletters, but my readers seem to really like the fact that I write plain English. Writing, like software, needs to be "user-friendly." I also incorporate humor into my writing, because informing and entertaining is more impactful than just informing. And I may have a larger ego than most publishers, too.

BG: So...have you ever hired a freelance writer?

JB: No, because I are a writer. ;-)

BG: What is the most bizarre/funny feedback you have received?

JB: Someone cancelled their subscription because they thought one of my articles, mentioning an L.A. event, was too local in focus for them -- the same issue had a summary of a live online Crisis Management training session I conducted for PR pros in Turkey!

BG: What do you use in terms of list hosting? Free or pay?

JB: I understand the concept of being cost effective and, when I'm trying to both publish ezines and serve my regular PR clients, it is NOT cost-effective for me to either maintain my own list or use a service that doesn't have RAPID customer support available. That's why I'm with Sparklist, to which I switched after service at Dundee badly deteriorated.

BG: Do you have plans to begin publishing more newsletters or create a family of newsletters?

JB: My 16-year-old son and I are giving new meaning to the concept of a "family of ezines" with the pending launch, in early July, of, an email newsletter and Web site. We're turning our hobby into a business, creating revenue and tax-deductions at the same time.

BG: I believe your press release received a bit of coverage here on Ezine-Tips a little while back. Have you ever had exposure through traditional media, such as an article written about you in a local paper or a spot on TV? Are the people in your local community aware that you publish?

JB: I was an established local, regional and national writer and speaker about Crisis Management before launching the newsletter and, as a public relations professional, knew how to get the media's attention. "Crisis Manager" has enhanced my "rep," resulting in my becoming a regular "expert source" for my industry publications, such as PR Week and PR News.

BG: Thanks for your time Jonathan. One final question: Do you feel there will come a time when you can live off of the profit generated by your list?

JB: Direct profit? Not unless I care to live below the poverty level. Indirect -- new Crisis Management clients - quite possible.

Jonathan L. Bernstein is principal of Bernstein Communications, designs and conducts strategic marketing and public relations programs, with particular expertise in Issues Management, Mature Market Public Relations, Business/Financial Communications, and NetMarketing. He also publishes "Crisis Manager," the first English-language email newsletter on the subject of Crisis Management -- For more information and to subscribe, visit

Ezine-Tips for July 03, 2000

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