Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Interview today...

-- Writer Interview # 19 --

Jonathan Bernstein, an internationally recognized crisis management expert and his wife, a designer and artist, have collaborated professionally in more than just a cursory manner. Jonathan is also the president of Bernstein Crisis Management, is a regular guest commentator, and expert source for national media outlets. PR Week described him as one of 22 individuals nationwide “who should be on the speed dial in a crisis.” For more information: or the Bernstein’s blog:
Celeste and Jonathan have enjoyed a 14-year marriage, and tell me that their marriage “survived the process not only intact, but stronger”. Here’s my interview with the couple.

Lillian: Why did you take on this project together?

Jonathan: Well, I was already well into the writing process when Celeste said, “Let’s make this look as good as you write.” The way to a man’s heart is apparently through his ego.

Celeste: Jonathan had written an earlier version called Keeping the Wolves at Bay – A Media Training Manual years ago and was planning on significantly updating it. The original version of the manual was black and white, ring bound, with a stock paper cover. I knew we could make it even better with some color, artwork, design and perfect binding.

Lillian: Was there much head butting?

Jonathan: (laughs) Only once, right when we got started. I tried to get Celeste to establish a time-line and/or set deadlines for completion of the book.

Celeste: I took on the project knowing that I’d need to learn a totally new software program, InDesign, to complete it. Jonathan and I had discussed that this endeavor was also a hands-on learning experience for me. I was not willing to commit myself to a time deadline for learning something that at the time of this conversation, I had only downloaded but hadn’t even installed yet on my computer much less had a chance to watch tutorials or get my fingers on.

Jonathan: We are both dedicated to spiritual growth, and just because some attempts to work together in the past hadn’t been harmonious didn’t mean we couldn’t work together now. For me, at some point, I completely surrendered to the concept that this wasn’t my book, but our book. That change in perspective was the key to serenity through the remainder of the development process.

Celeste: It’s a pat on the back to us both, I think, that I stuck to my guns on this, and that Jonathan understood that my unwillingness to commit to a time deadline had to do with personal integrity. I didn’t want to say I’d do something that I truly had no idea I could do within a specific time frame. He made amends to me that same day and said he would give me the space I needed to do what I needed to do. It was a real gift.

Lillian: Tell me about Ono the Ostrich.

Celeste: Ono has been around since the early days of Jonathan’s website, when he first started his newsletter. I was in art school and was messing around with what was a new program for me at the time, Illustrator. I created Ono as a mascot for the newsletter. It was a fun and silly way to illustrate a saying of Jonathan’s, “If you stick your head in the sand, be mindful of what you leave sticking out.” He created The Ono Awards shortly afterward, for people and companies in the news who buried their heads and made themselves targets.

Lillian: Why is Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training needed, and who is your audience?

Jonathan: Anyone who is or might be a spokesperson for an organization, or be interviewed for other reasons, needs to better understand 21st Century media relations, which has both online and offline components. They need to learn how to deliver their messages, even in the face of a hostile reporter. This book is really written as a training manual versus a traditional textbook – easy to read, easy to reference in a hurry. I even encourage my clients to make it a “bathroom reading” book so that they can keep refreshed on the topics.

Lillian: Do you two plan more books?

Celeste: Through the process of creating Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training, I became quite comfortable and proficient in the use of InDesign. I’ve had a lot of practice in my work using PhotoShop and Illustrator. As a trio, the software makes publishing if not simple, at least not mind-numbingly difficult. I also did a lot of research into the best book printing services available online for self-publishers. I am already working on putting together the manuscript for book two of the Keeping the Wolves at Bay series, this one on crisis prevention. I also intend to design, edit and publish for others.

Jonathan: I’m hoping we publish the next book by early 2011 – but I’m not going to insist that Celeste set a deadline!

Find Dave and Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, information about their radio shows and free resources and more at:

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