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What is risk communication?

Risk communication differs from other communication methods -- such as advertising, marketing and publicity -- in that it encourages the audience to actively participate in an ongoing conversation.

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What is risk communication?

  1. 1. What is risk communication?* By Rusty Cawley, APR | * Condensed from the National Center for Food Protection and Defense’s “Risk Communicator Training for Food Defense Preparedness, Response & Recovery,” module 1, topic 1.
  2. 2. The audience plays a dynamic role in risk communication • ‘An open two-way exchange of information and opinion about risk, leading to better understanding and better risk management decisions.’ – U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1992 The subject experts The lay public
  3. 3. Risk communication is different from all other models • Traditional communication – ‘We tell them.’ – Controls flow of information – ‘Who says what to whom via which channel with what effect?’ – Assumes ‘misinterpretation’ is the result of ‘noise’ • Risk communication – Fosters multi-directional conversations – Takes risk perception into account – Supports the response – Works before, during and after a crisis – Empowers its publics
  4. 4. In a crisis, traditional models may increase risk by increasing outrage Hazard Outrage Risk • But risk communication: – Takes into account the emotional response to the hazard – Empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions – Encourages constructive actions and dissuades destructive actions.
  5. 5. How to integrate risk communication with your company’s culture Recovery Response Preparation • Know your stakeholders • Make them partners in managing risk • Foster two-way communication • Listen to feedback • Assess your relationships frequently • Analyze: ‘What have we learned?’
  6. 6. What’s your return on investment in risk communication? More support for your plans Increased goodwill Better relations with decision makers Fewer injuries, illnesses and deaths Fewer wasted resources Fewer and less damaging rumors
  7. 7. To learn more, visit