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Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication Barbara Reynolds, Ph.D.

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1 Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication Barbara Reynolds, Ph.D.

2 Communicating in a crisis is different In a serious crisis, all affected people... –Take in information differently –Process information differently –Act on information differently In a catastrophic event: communication is different Be first, be right, be credible

3 The Risk of Disasters Is Increasing Increased terrorism Population density Aging U.S. population International travel speed Emerging diseases

4 What the public seeks from your communication 5 public concerns... 1.Gain wanted facts 2.Empower decisionmaking 3.Involved as a participant, not spectator 4.Provide watchguard over resource allocation 5.Recover or preserve well-being and normalcy

5 Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication impacts 5 organizational concerns -- you need to... 1.Execute response and recovery efforts 2.Decrease illness, injury, and deaths 3.Avoid misallocation of limited resources 4.Reduce rumors surrounding recovery 5.Avoid wasting resources

6 Crisis Communication Lifecycle Precrisis Prepare Foster alliances Develop consensus recommendations Test message Evaluate plans Initial Express empathy Provide simple risk explanations Establish credibility Recommend actions Commit to stakeholders Maintenance Further explain risk by population groups Provide more background Gain support for response Empower risk/benefit decisionmaking Capture feedback for analysis Resolution Educate a primed public for future crises Examine problems Gain support for policy and resources Promote your organizations role Evaluation Capture lessons learned Develop an event SWOT Improve plan Return to precrisis planning

7 Precrisis Phase Prepare Foster alliances Develop consensus recommendations Test message Evaluate plans

8 Initial Phase Express empathy Provide simple risk explanations Establish credibility Recommend actions Commit to stakeholders

9 Maintenance Further explain risk by population groups Provide more background Gain support for response Empower risk/benefit decisionmaking Capture feedback for analysis

10 Resolution Educate primed public for future crises Examine problems Gain support for policy and resources Promote your organizations role

11 Evaluation Capture lessons learned Develop an event SWOT Improve plan Return to precrisis planning

12 5 communication failures that kill operational success 1.Mixed messages from multiple experts 2.Information released late 3.Paternalistic attitudes 4.Not countering rumors and myths in real-time 5.Public power struggles and confusion

13 5 communication steps that boost operational success 1.Execute a solid communication plan 2.Be the first source for information 3.Express empathy early 4.Show competence and expertise 5.Remain honest and open

14 Psychology of a Crisis

15 What Do People Feel Inside When a Disaster Looms or Occurs? Psychological barriers: 1.Denial 2.Fear, anxiety, confusion, dread 3.Hopelessness or helplessness 4.Seldom panic 5.Vicarious rehearsal

16 What Is Vicarious Rehearsal? The communication age gives national audiences the experience of local crises. These armchair victims mentally rehearse recommended courses of actions. Recommendations are easier to reject the farther removed the audience is from real threat.

17 Individuals at riskthe cost? Demands for unneeded treatment Dependence on special relationships (bribery) MUPSMultiple Unexplained Physical Symptoms Self-destructive behaviors Stigmatization

18 Community at riskthe cost? Disorganized group behavior (unreasonable demands, stealing) Rumors, hoaxes, fraud, stigmatization Trade/industry liabilities/losses Diplomacy Civil actions

19 Communicating in a Crisis Is Different Public must feel empowered – reduce fear and victimization Mental preparation reduces anxiety Taking action reduces anxiety Uncertainty must be addressed

20 Decisionmaking in a Crisis Is Different People simplify Cling to current beliefs We remember what we see or previously experience (first messages carry more weight) People limit intake of new information (3-7 bits)

21 How Do We Communicate About Risk in an Emergency? All risks are not accepted equally Voluntary vs. involuntary Controlled personally vs. controlled by others Familiar vs. exotic Natural vs. manmade Reversible vs. permanent Statistical vs. anecdotal Fairly vs. unfairly distributed Affecting adults vs. affecting children

22 Be Careful With Risk Comparisons Are they similarly accepted based on –high/low hazard (scientific/technical measure) –high/low outrage (emotional measure) A. High hazardB. High outrage C. Low hazardD. Low outrage

23 Risk Acceptance Examples Dying by falling coconut or dying by shark –Natural vs. manmade –Fairly vs. unfairly distributed –Familiar vs. exotic –Controlled by self vs. outside control of self

24 Risk Communication Principles for Emergencies Dont overreassure Considered controversial by some. A high estimate of harm modified downward is much more acceptable to the public than a low estimate of harm modified upward.

25 Risk Communication Principles for Emergencies When the news is good, state continued concern before stating reassuring updates Although were not out of the woods yet, we have seen a declining number of cases each day this week. Although the fires could still be a threat, we have them 85% contained.

26 Risk Communication Principles for Emergencies Under promise and over deliver... Instead of making promises about outcomes, express the uncertainty of the situation and a confident belief in the process to fix the problem and address public safety concerns.

27 Risk Communication Principles for Emergencies Give people things to do - Anxiety is reduced by action and a restored sense of control Symbolic behaviors Preparatory behaviors Contingent if, then behaviors 3-part action plan - Must do X - Should do Y - Can do Z

28 Risk Communication Principles for Emergencies Allow people the right to feel fear Dont pretend theyre not afraid, and dont tell them they shouldnt be. Acknowledge the fear, and give contextual information.

29 Messages and Audiences

30 Judging the Message Speed counts – marker for preparedness Facts – consistency is vital Trusted source – cant fake these

31 Public Information Release What to release When to release How to release Where to release Who to release Why release

32 Audience Relationship to Event

33 Match Audiences and Concerns Audiences Victims and their families Politicians First responders Trade and industry Community far outside disaster Media Concerns Opportunity to express concern Personal safety Resources for response Loss of revenue/liability Speed of information flow Anticipatory guidance Familys safety

34 5 Key Elements To Build Trust 1.Expressed empathy 2.Competence 3.Honesty 4.Commitment 5.Accountability

35 Emergency Information Any information is empowering Benefit from substantive action steps Plain English Illustrations and color Source identification

36 What does the public want to know? Can you tell me more about the attack –What caused it, why, what is the reason behind it? –Will there be more attacks? How long is the emergency –How long is the event going to last? –How long is this radiation going to last?

37 Accuracy of Information __________ Speed of Release Empathy + Openness CREDIBILITY Successful Communication = + TRUST

38 Initial Message Must Be short Be relevant Give positive action steps Be repeated

39 Initial Message Must Not Use jargon Be judgmental Make promises that cant be kept Include humor

40 Sources of Social Pressure What will I gain? What will it cost me? What do those important to me want me to do? Can I actually carry it out?

41 The STARCC Principle Your public messages in a crisis must be: S imple T imely A ccurate R elevant C redible C onsistent

42 Crisis Communication Plan

43 Elements of a Complete Crisis Communication Plan 1.Signed endorsement from director 2.Designated staff responsibilities 3.Information verification and clearance/release procedures 4.Agreements on information release authorities 5.Media contact list 6.Procedures to coordinate with public health organization response teams 7.Designated spokespersons 8.Emergency response team after-hours contact numbers 9.Emergency response information partner contact numbers 10.Partner agreements (like joining the local EOCs JIC) 11.Procedures/plans on how to get resources youll need 12.Pre-identified vehicles of information dissemination

44 Nine Steps of Crisis Response Crisis Occurs Verify situation Conduct notification Conduct assessment (activate crisis plan) Organize assignments Prepare information and obtain approvals Release information to media, public, partners through arranged channels Obtain feedback and conduct crisis evaluation Conduct public education Monitor events

45 Prepare Information and Obtain Approvals Execute steps in communication plan Public information release for your agency: –Top official –Top communicator –Top subject matter expert Look once, check twice, release it and move on Delegate what you can, prioritize what you cant

46 First 48 Hours - Tools Critical first steps checklist Message template for news release Press availability at site template Public call tracking sheet Media call triage sheet Risk assessment for communication

47 Stakeholder/ Partner Communication

48 Stakeholders have a special connection to you and your involvement in the emergency. They are interested in how the incident will impact them. Partners have a working relationship to you and collaborate in an official capacity on the emergency issue or other issues. They are interested in fulfilling their role in the incident and staying informed.

49 5 Mistakes With Stakeholders Inadequate access Lack of clarity No energy for response Too little, too late Perception of arrogance

50 Stakeholders can be... Advocate–maintain loyalty Adversary–discourage negative action Ambivalent–keep neutral or move to advocate

51 3 Reasons to expend energy on stakeholders during an emergency They may... Know what you need to know Have points of view outside your organizations Communicate your message for you

52 5 steps in stakeholder preplanning 1.Identify stakeholders 2.Do an assessment 3.Query stakeholders 4.Prioritize by relationship to incident 5.Determine level of touch

53 Community Relations! Why? Community acceptance through community involvement Resource multiplier for volunteer door to door communication Involving stakeholders is a way to advance trust through transparency Our communities, our social capital, are a critical element of our nation's security

54 Dealing With Angry People Anger arises when people... Have been hurt Feel threatened by risks out of their control Are not respected Have their fundamental beliefs challenged Sometimes, anger arises when... Media arrive Damages may be in play

55 High-Outrage Public Meetings Dos The best way to deal with criticism and outrage by an audience is to acknowledge that it exists. (Dont say, I know how you feel.) Practice active listening and try to avoid interrupting. State the problem and then the recommendation.

56 High-Outrage Public Meetings Donts Verbal abuse! Dont blow your stack. –Try to bring along a neutral third party who can step in and diffuse the situation. Dont look for one answer that fits all. Dont promise what you cant deliver.

57 Dont lecture at the Townhall Easy but not effective Doesnt change thoughts/behaviors Instead, ask questions Key: dont give a solution, rather help audience discover solution

58 4 Questions to help people persuade themselves 1.Start with broad open-ended historical questions 2.Ask questions about wants and needs 3.Ask about specifics being faced now 4.Ask in a way to encourage a statement of benefits

59 2 simple tips to gain acceptance 1.Accumulate yeses 2.Dont say yes, butsay yes, and

60 Six Principles of CERC Be First: If the information is yours to provide by organizational authoritydo so as soon as possible. If you cantthen explain how you are working to get it. Be Right: Give facts in increments. Tell people what you know when you know it, tell them what you dont know, and tell them if you will know relevant information later. Be Credible: Tell the truth. Do not withhold to avoid embarrassment or the possible panic that seldom happens. Uncertainty is worse than not knowing rumors are more damaging than hard truths.

61 Six Principles of CERC Express Empathy: Acknowledge in words what people are feelingit builds trust. Promote Action: Give people things to do. It calms anxiety and helps restore order. Show Respect: Treat people the way you want to be treatedthe way you want your loved ones treatedalwayseven when hard decisions must be communicated.

62 Terrorism and Bioterrorism Communication Challenges

63 Whats Different in a Terrorism Response? Stronger reaction from the public Multiple events occur Incident location is a crime scene Detection is delayed Responders are at higher risk Response assets are targets

64 Terrorism and Risk Communication Outside control of individual or community Unfairly distributed From untrusted source Man-made Exotic Catastrophic

65 Federal Response Plan FBI leads on information release in crisis management FEMA leads on information release in consequence management Transfer lead from the FBI to FEMA by Attorney General Core federal response: DOJ/FBI DOE FEMA DOD EPAHHS

66 Joint Information Center FBI public information officer and staff FEMA public information officer and staff Other federal agencies PI staff State and local PIOs

67 Bioterrorism Is Different Medical and public health systems are usually the first to detect bioterrorism. A delay is likely between the release of the agent and the knowledge that the occurrence is a bioterrorist act. A short window of opportunity exists between the first cases and the second wave.

68 Natural Emerging Infectious Disease or Bioterrorism? Encephalitis Hemorrhagic mediastinitis Hemorrhagic fever Pneumonia with abnormal liver function Papulopustular rash (e.g., smallpox) Descending paralysis Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

69 Media Are Sure To Ask: Is this bioterrorism? Could this be bioterrorism? Are you investigating this situation as possible bioterrorism? Is the FBI involved in this investigation? When will you be able to tell us whether or not this situation is bioterrorism?

70 Is It an Emerging Disease or Undeclared Bioterrorism? A possible response to media from public health officials is: Were all understandably concerned about the uncertainty surrounding this outbreak, and we wish we could easily answer that question today. (continued on next slide)

71 Is It an Emerging Disease or Undeclared Bioterrorism? For the sake of those who are ill or may become ill, our medical epidemiologists (professional disease detectives) are going to first try to answer the following critical questions: (1) Who is becoming ill? (2) What organism is causing the illness? (3) How should it be treated? (4) How can it be controlled to stop the spread? (continued on next slide)

72 Is It an Emerging Disease or Undeclared Bioterrorism? One question that disease investigators routinely ask is, Could this outbreak have been caused intentionally? We [organization name] must keep an open mind as data in this investigation are collected and analyzed. (continued on next slide)

73 Is It an Emerging Disease or Undeclared Bioterrorism? Any specific questions about the FBIs involvement regarding this outbreak investigation should be referred to them. However, the FBI and [your organization] have a strong partnership regarding the investigation of unusual disease outbreaks and have worked comfortably together in the past in our parallel investigations. (Note: Dont forget to coordinate this answer with the FBI.)

74 Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) 12-hour Push Pack – 100 cargo containers Air or ground ship 50 tons of medicine, medical supplies, equipment Nerve agents, anthrax, plague, tularemia Treat thousands of symptomatic and protect hundreds of thousands

75 Tale of Two Cities: Smallpox Milwaukee, Wisconsin, experienced a Smallpox outbreak in 1894 of fairly major proportions, and caused urban rioting for about a month in the city streetswhy? New York City experienced the last Smallpox outbreak in this country in People stayed in line for hours, full days, and came back the next day in some cases with no unrestwhy? –Judith W. Leavitt, PhD, University of Wisconsin

76 SNS Communication Plan Multi-language text Methods for reproducing materials Communication channels -Volunteers -Contractors -On-site interpreters Not all SNS events the same SNS communication assessment checklist

77 Working With the Media

78 Disasters Are Media Events We need the media to be there. Give important protective actions for the public. Know how to reach their audiences and what their audiences need.

79 Response Officials Should Understand that their job is not the medias job Know that they cant dismiss media when theyre inconvenient Accept that the media will be involved in the response, and plan accordingly

80 Response Officials Should Attempt to provide all media equal access Use technology to fairly distribute information Plan to precredential media for access to EOC/JOC or JIC Think consistent messages

81 Response Officials Should Not Hold grudges Discount local media Tell the media what to do

82 How To Work With Reporters Reporters want a front seat to the action and all information NOW. Preparation will save relationships. If you dont have the facts, tell them the process. Reality Check: 70,000 media outlets in U.S. Media cover the news 24/7.

83 Media, Too, Are Affected by Crises Verification Adversarial role National dominance Lack of scientific expertise

84 Media and Crisis Coverage Evidence strongly suggests that coverage is more factual when reporters have more information. They become more interpretative when they have less information. What should we conclude?

85 Command Post Media will expect a command post. Official channels that work well will discourage reliance on nonofficial channels. Be media-friendly at the command post prepare for them to be on site.

86 Media Beating on Your Door Alternatives to no comment that give you breathing room: –Weve just learned about this and are trying to get more information. –Im not the authority on this, let me have XXXX call you right back. –Were preparing a statement on that now. Can I fax it to you in about 2 hours?

87 Media Availability or Press Conferences In Person Tips Determine in advance who will answer questions about specific subject matters Keep answers short and focusednothing longer than 2 minutes Assume that every mike is alive the entire time Sitting or standing?

88 Two press conference killers Have hangers on from your organization circling the room Being visible to the media/public while waiting to begin the press conference

89 Television Interview Tips Dont look at yourself on the TV monitor. Look at the reporter, not the camera, unless directed otherwise. Do an earphone check. Ask what to do if it pops out of your ear.

90 Writing for the Media During a Crisis The pressure will be tremendous from all quarters. It must be fast and accurate. Its like cooking a turkey when people are starving. If information isnt finalized, explain the process.

91 Emergency Press Releases One page with attached factsheet (can clear quicker) Think of them as press updates, and prime media when to expect them Should answer 5Ws and H for the time it covers

92 Press Statements Are Not Press Releases They are the official position. May be used to counter a contrary view. Not used for peer-review debate. Offer encouragement to the public and responders.

93 Spokesperson

94 What the Public Will Ask First Are my family and I safe? What have you found that may affect me? What can I do to protect myself and my family? Who caused this? Can you fix it?

95 What the Media Will Ask First What happened? Who is in charge? Has this been contained? Are victims being helped? What can we expect? What should we do? Why did this happen? Did you have forewarning?

96 Spokesperson Qualities What makes a good spokesperson? What doesnt make a good spokesperson?

97 Role of a Spokesperson in an Emergency Take your organization from an it to a we Build trust and credibility for the organization Remove the psychological barriers within the audience Ultimately, reduce the incidence of illness, injury, and death by getting it right

98 Spokesperson Qualities Be your organization; then be yourself. Whats your organizations identity?

99 Spokesperson Qualities Its more than acting natural. Every organization has an identity. Try to embody that identity. Example: CDC has a history of going into harms way to help people. We humbly go where we are asked. We value our partners and wont steal the show. Therefore, a spokesperson would express a desire to help, show courage, and express the value of partners. Committed but not showy.

100 Emergency Risk Communication Principles Dont overreassure Acknowledge that there is a process in place Express wishes Give people things to do Ask more of people

101 Emergency Risk Communication Principles Consider the what if questions.

102 Spokesperson Recommendations Stay within the scope of your responsibility Tell the truth Follow up on issues Expect criticism

103 Your Interview Rights Know who will do the interview Know and limit the interview to agreed subjects Set limits on time and format Ask who else will be or has been interviewed Decline to be interviewed Decline to answer a question

104 You Do Not Have the Right To: Embarrass or argue with a reporter Demand that your remarks not be edited Demand the opportunity to edit the piece Insist that an adversary not be interviewed Lie Demand that an answer youve given not be used State what you are about to say is off the record or not attributable to you

105 Sensational or Unrelated Questions Bridges back to what you want to say: What I think you are really asking is... The overall issue is... Whats important to remember is... Its our policy to not discuss [topic], but what I can tell you...

106 Watch Out For... Machine gun questioning. Reporter fires rapid questions at you. You respond, Please let me answer this question. Feeding the mike and the pause. Seldom will dead air make scintillating viewing, unless youre reacting nonverbally. Relax. Hot mike. Its always onalwaysincluding during testing.

107 Watch Out For... Reporter asks a sensational question and gives you an A or B dilemma. Use positive words, correct the inaccuracies without repeating the negative, and reject A or B if neither is valid. (e.g., corn versus produce) Explain, Theres actually another alternative you may not have considered, and give your message point.

108 Watch Out For... Surprise prop. The reporter attempts to hand you a report or supposedly contaminated item. If you take it, you own it. React by saying, Im familiar with that report and what I can say is or Im not familiar with the report, but what is important and then go to key message.

109 Effective Nonverbal Communication Do maintain eye contact Do maintain an open posture Do not retreat behind physical barriers such as podiums or tables Do not frown or show anger or disbelief through facial expression Do not dress in a way that emphasizes the differences between you and your audience

110 Grief in context Circumstances of the death Nature of the relationship Experienced loss before Any secondary losses

111 Communicating about loss Ask clarifying questions When possible, use the words the person uses Say youre crying instead of youre sad. Short statements of condolences (e.g., this is a sad time, or youre in my prayers) Use death or dying, not softer euphemisms like expired, or heavenly reward

112 Media and Public Health Law

113 Model Emergency Health Powers Act Model public health law for states Protection of civil liberties balanced with need to stop transmission of disease Explain what law covers and why Laws address: quarantine, vaccination, property issues, access to medical records Model law draft – court order to quarantine someone, unless delay could pose an immediate threat

114 Protecting the Public from Infectious Diseases Detention – temporary hold Isolation – separation from others for period of communicability Quarantine – restricts activities of well persons exposed

115 First Amendment In the First Amendment the founding fathers gave the free press protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. –New York Times Co. v U.S., 403 U.S. 713 (1971)

116 Medias right to acquire news Press has right to acquire news from any source by any lawful means No Constitutional right to special access Information not available to the public: –Crime scene –Disasters –Police station –Hospital lab –Other places

117 Access may be restricted Interference with legitimate law enforcement action Law enforcement perimeter Crime scene Disaster scene

118 Right to acquire information Available or open to the public Place or process historically open to the public: –Hospitals? –Jails? –Courtrooms? –Meeting/conference rooms?

119 Medias right of publication Once information is acquired Ability to restrict information; –Severely limited –Heavy burden to prevent or prohibit –Minneapolis Star Tribune v. U.S., 713 F Supp (S. Minn, 1988)

120 Assisting the media Inviting media on search or arrest in private citizens home is not protected by 1 st Amendment and may result in civil liability –Violation of 4th Amendment Rights

121 Employees access to media Freedom of speech may be Constitutionally protected: if public value outweighs detrimental impact May be required to follow chain of command Ability to choose spokesperson: –Police officer has no 1 st Amendment right to speak or act on behalf of department when not authorized to do so. –Koch v. City of Portland, 766 P.2d 405 (Ore. App. 1988)

122 CDCs principles of communication for public Communication will be open, honest, and based on sound science, conveying accurate information Information will not be withheld solely to protect CDC or the government from criticism or embarrassment Information will be released consistent with the Freedom of Information Act

123 Freedom of Information Act FOIA does not apply to state and local governments (most jurisdictions have a FOIA- like laws) Principle of democracy is that citizens be informed about their government. FOIA ensures that the federal government provides public maximum possible information

124 Federal Privacy Act of 1974 Federal employees matter of public record: –Name and title –Grade and annual salary rate –Position description –Location of duty, room and phone number –Name in case of accident after NOK notified –Current city/state residence –Hospitalization/confinement

125 Federal Privacy Act of 1974 Most circumstances, may not release: –Age, date of birth –Marital status and dependents –Street address or phone number –Race, sex –Legal proceedings –Normally protects: medical records, pay records

126 Human Resources for Crisis Communication

127 Take off the superhero cape Responders potential secondary victims Responders risk stretching beyond limits Exhaustion, frustration, anger, guilt are expected After more than 24 hours without sleep, perform as if you are legally drunk

128 Personal Coping Recognize emotions will be high Eat nutritious food Take mental breaks Avoid lots of caffeine or alcohol Leave when your shift is over Exercise

129 Supervisors 7 Supports 1.Remind workers of value of their effort 2.Insist they take meal breaks 3.Make nutritious food and drink available 4.Respond to timid requests for relief 5.Encourage exercise 6.Accept non-offensive silliness 7.Insist workers take time to sleep

130 Executing the Crisis Communication Plan Apply risk assessment tools Dont want uninformed fresh crewstagger hours Relief for leadership too Work 12 hour days, never more than 16 Require a day off after 10 days

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