Presentation on theme: "Risk Communication is not Crisis Communication Tee L. Guidotti George Washington University Center for Risk Science and Public Health."— Presentation transcript:
Risk Communication is not Crisis Communication Tee L. Guidotti George Washington University Center for Risk Science and Public Health
Some Modes of Communication in Public Health Health Communication – behavioral technology mostly for individuals Social Marketing – a behavioral technology for community intervention Corporate Communications – an art of persuasion to change responsiveness Crisis Communication – an approach to delivering urgent messages Risk Communication – a systematic art and practice based on behavioral science
What is risk communication? The National Research Council (1989) defined risk communication as: "...an integrative process of exchange of information and opinions among individuals, groups, and institutions; often involves multiple messages about the nature of the risk or expressing concerns, opinions, or reactions to risk messages or to the legal and institutional arrangements for risk management."
A little shorter! Risk communication is the applied science and art of discussing technical information about potentially hazardous situations with nontechnical audiences. - ASDWA A science-based approach for communicating effectively in high-concern, high stress, emotionally charged or controversial situations. (Vince Covello)
What makes risk communication so special? Helps people understand facts that are truly relevant to their own life. Not based solely on telling individuals what we want them to know. Considers personal factors such as emotion: trust, control, uncertainty, and even dread. (Fischoff) Considers delivery mechanisms as well as messages. (McLuhan) Failure can lead to confusion and distrust. Credit: George M. Gray, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health, "The Risk Communication Challenge," May 2003
Risk communication is a two-way street. Involves the exchange of ideas. It is not one-sided. Emotionally-charged situations Involves subjectivity and empathy Requires interpretation of scientific information. Concerns, opinions, feelings, and reactions are as valid as facts A process, not a one-time activity
Risk Communication in a Crisis Referring to emergency, not corporate issues We like Baker approach, but if you have to work through it on short notice, you are in trouble. Response is conditioned by past experience with agency and trust. Effective risk communication lays groundwork for crisis communication, if done early. Risk communication can deliver more complex message. People hear very selectively during a crisis. Community group, New Orleans
Knowing Which Mode You Are In Crisis Communication –Response to an emerging issue –Conveys critical information –Little time for originality Risk Communication –Supplies information recipient needs –Best done before a crisis –Ideal when attention focused on issue –Need frameworks as well as facts
Knowing Which Mode You Are Not In Corporate Communication –Shapes attitudes toward the organization –Puts facts into organizations perspective (spin) –Aim is to persuade, build trust –Works best for audiences not paying close attention –Tends to be patronizing. –Essential: if public does not trust the organization, how can the organization help the public? The Dark Side: spinning harmful products The Pastel Side: PR for the sake of a positive image and identity
Knowing Which Mode You Should Be In Health Communication –When there is a discreet message about personal health –When the objective is behavior change for the individual –Short or long term commitment Social Marketing –When the objective is behavior change –Implies a long-term commitment (years) and social change –Concept is to create supportive social environment, reinforcing individual behavior and offering healthy choices
Our Philosophy on Risk Communication It is a necessary function in a changing, pluralistic, technologically-oriented society. Should be centered on the public and the message, not on the expert or a mission. Should not assume that the public is giving its undivided attention. Public health authorities have a legitimate obligation to persuade. Other modes of communication have their place: risk communication is one of several modes to be used strategically.