A Consultant’s Guide to Crisis Management with Jonathan Bernstein: Podcast #6

Preparing for crisis before it hits can protect your consulting business from everything from criticism to collapse.


On this episode of Consulting Success, I’m joined by Jonathan Bernstein of Bernstein Crisis Management. Jonathan is the author of “The Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management,” a great book that provides the basic skills and knowledge to deal with the crises that inevitably occur in any business, no matter the size. At first I wasn’t sure if crisis management really applied to consultants, but Jonathan quickly proved otherwise. He describes crisis management as the “art of avoiding trouble when you can, and reacting appropriately when you can’t.” This wisdom doesn’t only apply to big businesses — crisis mode can hit anyone at anytime. On this episode you’ll learn more about the benefits that come with preparing ahead of time for any crisis that may come — and how to handle it smartly.

Consultants can benefit from a crisis management plan.

Jonathan works with companies both to preventing crises from happening, and also to maintain business continuity and functionality when a crisis does hit. A single major crisis can knock a small business entirely out of the running, but a creative and effective crisis management plan can help consultants and small businesses minimize damage from a crisis. Jonathan refers to this as the “art of crisis management,” and in this conversation he proves that having a plan in place is essential to every business, regardless of size.

Challenge yourself to connect with mentors that can help you achieve your goals.

I have always been a major advocate of reaching out to the people that inspire you, and I really identified with the story that Jonathan shares about the bold moves that he made when changing his career path. From his first career in the intelligence department of the Army, he learned how to assess vulnerability. He made the leap from Army to consulting because of one bold move. His example proves that taking the time to study your mentors and increasing the size of your network will always pay off, and you’ll want to be sure to take the time to listen to how important that move was to his incredible success.

In crisis mode? Here’s what not to do.

Shooting from the hip and burying your head in the sand are two of the things you absolutely do not want to do while in crisis mode. It can be hard to tackle head-on, but taking control can help you turn crisis into triumph for your consulting business. You definitely won’t want to miss his advice for how to handle negative online criticism. Listen for that and more strategic advice, including Jonathan’s five keys to communication when handling a crisis, on this insightful episode of Consulting Success.

Key Takeaways:

[:40] Consultants and small businesses can benefit from a crisis management plan.
[7:24] The art of crisis management requires creativity, intuition and more.
[9:15] Jonathan’s decision to leave a lucrative job at a large PR consulting firm to become a crisis management consultant.
[12:20] Taking the time to learn about and reach out to your mentors can create major payoffs in your career.
[16:21] Jonathan’s decision to leave a major company to start his own business, and the greatest challenges he faced.
[20:21] How he lands clients and what has been the most effective in his marketing.
[24:12] A challenging year can provide some of the greatest lessons.
[29:41] Jonathan’s approach to pricing his services.
[31:56] What are the direct impacts to business when writing and sharing books?
[33:44] When you encounter a crisis (which you will) here is what NOT to do.
[38:53] Jonathan’s five keys to communication when handling crisis.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Bernstein Crisis Management
The Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management, by Jonathan Bernstein


“If you are … constantly educating them and raising their threshold of awareness … they are going to call you.” — Jonathan Bernstein “A crisis can affect a company of any size, whether it’s one sole person … or tens of thousands of employees.” — Michael Zipursky “When you put things into perspective, often things aren’t as bad as you think they are.” — Michael Zipursky

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