I’ve spent much of my more than 25-year career trying to help elected officials and candidates avoid gaffes and now I find more and more of my clients are from the private and non-profit sector. Preventing crises so that a CEO or team leader won’t have to apologize later is a trend that’s catching on. So now I'm putting that experience to work in an effort to help corporate, non profit and political leaders take a step that seems wholly logical: find a way to help people avoid the crisis in the first place.


Is that even possible?


We believe the answer is yes.  I'm partnering with Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., leaders in crisis communications, on AvoidTheApology.com.

Just last week, Budweiser made news when a message on a can suggested that the product helped eliminate the word "no" from drinker's vocabulary.  A fresh set of eyes would have recognized the hazard immediately and Budweiser could have avoided the crisis.

That's what AvoidTheApology.com seeks to do: help companies chart a course that proactively seeks to avoid crisis, rather than simply having a team to respond to the crises that arise.

See our full press release below and visit the website for more information.  

I'm available for interviews at mark@communicationscounsel.com or by calling 614-349-1145.


May 6, 2015--Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management public relations consultancy, has launched AvoidTheApology.com, a service designed to help prevent embarrassing, reputation-damaging and financially harmful crises featured in the news nearly every day.

For example, consider these PR and social media crises that occurred in just the past few months:

  • Some clueless advertising folks at Anheuser-Busch elicited widespread anger with a Bud Lite commercial featuring the tagline "The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night";
  • Sea World launched its disastrous #askseaworld campaign, not thinking through how that hashtag could be comically and sadly hijacked;
  • Starbucks launched – and then had to abort – its ill-considered "Race Together" campaign;
  • Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart's hand-picked replacement on "The Daily Show," came under fierce online criticism for anti-Semitic and otherwise insensitive tweets;

"If those organizations used our AvoidTheApology.com service, all of these gaffes could have been averted," said Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc.  

Bernstein added, "By launching AvoidTheApology.com, we're offering clients a carefully-selected cadre of experts with the experience, savvy and objectivity to provide brutally candid analysis and feedback that clients need to hear.  In-house or retained PR/marketing advisors are often reluctant or not expected to speak as freely as we can. Our sole mission is to look at marketing, advertising and PR programs before they're launched and predict what could go wrong."

As proof of the objectivity offered via this service, Bernstein Crisis Management won't accept other, unrelated assignments from AvoidTheApology.com clients.  "We're not trying to poach work from existing consultancies or supersede in-house talent; we're providing what we believe to be a first-of-its-kind service," Bernstein said.

Some of the types of programs and plans AvoidTheApology.com experts anticipate reviewing include:

  • Significant operational decisions, understanding that all such decisions have potential impact on reputation and the bottom line.
  • Any major advertising campaign, particularly the rollout of new ad slogans – e.g., advice on potential misuse by competitors, pop culture and social media.
  • Social media campaigns (e.g., Twitter hashtag) – their potential for being hijacked and other abuse.
  • Offbeat or unusual humor intended for advertising or PR programs.
  • High profile speeches – ensuring that the content of important speeches by a celebrity or public figure will resonate as desired and, most important, not draw unexpected criticism.
  • Celebrity and CEO appearances before Congress or other legislative bodies – anticipating the worst that could happen before they step into the lion's den.

"Can we guarantee we'll be 100% successful in every possible crisis that might somehow be associated with AvoidTheApology.com client initiatives?" Bernstein asked rhetorically.  "Of course not.  We are, however, fully confident we'll dramatically reduce the risk through our rigorous analysis process.  And, in the unlikely event that an unanticipated negative consequence does result, we will refund any fee paid to us for that project."

Bernstein Crisis Management has been a virtual consultancy for 21 years, with a cadre of more than 30 consultants in a wide variety of crisis management-related fields.  The new service is launching with a core team of two staff members and two lead contractors. 

  • Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management, author and frequent expert media source;
  • Erik Bernstein, company vice president and originator of the AvoidTheApology.comconcept;
  • Susan Tellem, APR, RN, BSN, of Tellem Grody Public Relations, Inc., a senior crisis management consultant with more than 30 years of experience; and,
  • Mark Weaver, principal of Communications Counsel, an attorney and crisis communications advisor.

"When additional help is mandated by a client's needs, I'll hand-pick the right consultants from our database," said Jonathan Bernstein.