Ms. Stacey Stevens - Crisis Communications Update: Messages and Channels


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Crisis Communications Update: Messages and Channels - Ms. Stacey Stevens, VP, Media & Industry Affairs, DMI/National Dairy Council, from the 2013 NIAA Merging Values and Technology conference, April 15-17, 2013, Louisville, KY, USA.

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  • Who is the FMD cross-species team? It started with communicators and issues management specialists from NCBA, the National Pork Board, and Dairy Management Inc. In the past calendar year, our this core team has expanded its structure to include the American Sheep Institute, as well as bi-annual meetings or conference calls with an expanded group that includes operations and technical representatives from our organizations, as well as related groups such as USMEF, IDEC, NPPC, AASV, and AABP.
  • Our core communications group still manages and drives most activity . W e have established strong relationships with the technical experts in our organizations as well as members of USMEF, IDEC, NMPF, AASV, AABP, and more. The larger group collectively works toward these overarching goals in the event of an outbreak, including: Protect animal health & minimize disease spread Ensure consumer confidence in meat & milk safety Prevent supply disruption to customers
  • The reality check of the UK outbreak prompted the beef, pork and dairy industry groups to lead the charge in forming an FMD working group in 2001. Industry groups from all cloven-hoofed sectors were invited, with Beef, Dairy and Pork stepping forward as the primary drivers. The first meeting took place Sept. 12, 2001. The team’s focus is on creating a unified response plan and messaging to lay the foundation for a coordinated, consistent approach in the event of an outbreak. Over the past 11 years, the team has working closely with USDA, APHIS, USMEF and other government and industry groups to move forward FMD planning and message development. Forming close government ties has been essential to ensure the industry has a place at the table in the event of an outbreak.
  • In 2012, the FMD team made the development and testing of consumer messages a priority.
  • Qualitative phase: Quantitative phase: Additional qualitative phase: Two 90-minute online focus groups with seven consumers (three men and four women per group) Focused on vaccination issues and messages All participants: Eat meat or dairy products at least two times each month Mix of ages, sex, employment, education, ethnicity, income and geographic location
  • Analysis from FH Insights team
  • Messages were tested on containment of FMD in the event of an outbreak to protect the viability of the livestock industry. The messages included: The livestock community is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), veterinarians and local government officials to quickly contain the disease and minimize the impact on cattle, sheep and other cloven-hoofed animals. Even though FMD is not a public health threat, we must contain the disease to protect the economic viability of the beef, pork, lamb and dairy industries and our country’s ability to provide consumers worldwide with an affordable and steady supply of milk and meat. As soon as state and federal officials identified the high probability of an FMD case, actions, such as quarantines of affected herds and restrictions of livestock movement, would be put into place. Farmers and ranchers closely monitor their animals for any signs of illness, report suspicious or potential instances of disease, and keep track of visitors to their operation. Right now, they’re following additional precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. Working together, we can contain FMD as quickly as possible. The livestock community has employed a coordinated communications plan to ensure a streamlined flow of information among state and federal agencies, producers, processors, retailers and consumers.
  • The containment messages are most reassuring and most likely to instill confidence. The qualitative phase identified the most preferred messages concerning FMD Containment. These two messages focus on concern for the economic viability of the industry as well as having a coordinated communications plan.
  • Hear about the reasons for and the effectiveness of vaccinations Finding out about the testing process of vaccines for livestock conducted by government agencies
  • The vaccination messages also rank highly in terms of making consumers feel reassured and instilling confidence. Qualitatively, the most preferred messages focused on milk and meat from vaccinated animals being safe to consume.
  • Ms. Stacey Stevens - Crisis Communications Update: Messages and Channels

    1. 1. Crisis Communications Update:Messages and ChannelsNIAA FMD SymposiumApril 17-18, 2013Stacey Stevens, VP, Nutrition and Industry Affairs, Dairy Management Inc.,FMD Cross-Species Team Representative
    2. 2. Who is the FMD Cross-SpeciesTeam?
    3. 3. FMD Working Group Goals• Protect animal health & minimize diseasespread• Ensure consumer confidence in meat & milksafety• Prevent supply disruption to customers
    4. 4. FMD Cross-Species Team: Activitiesand Outcomes• Create unifiedFMD crisisresponse plan• Share FMDmessaging• Form governmentpartnerships forcoordinatedresponse
    5. 5. 2012 Research Overview
    6. 6. Research Objectives• For crisis preparation, need to better understand:– Current awareness and knowledge levels regarding FMD– Consumers’ understanding and acceptance of various FMD messages(last assessed in 2007)
    7. 7. Research Objectives•Specific areas the research addressed:–Awareness of vaccinations of livestock–Awareness and knowledge of FMD–Top-of-mind concerns if there were an FMD outbreak–New messaging receptivity in five categories:– 1) Food Safety– 2) Disease Impact and Management– 3) FMD Containment– 4) FMD Control– 5) Vaccinations
    8. 8. Research ProcessAll participants ate meat or dairy products at least two times each month.Mix of ages, sex, employment, education, ethnicity, income and geographic location.
    9. 9. The Research: Awareness• Foot and Mouth Disease– The vast majority (85%)believe they have heard ofFMD– Almost half (49%) believesmall children can contractthe disease– Consumers are confusedabout the differencebetween FMD and HFMD“I have heard of that disease. Icannot think of anythingspecifically I know about thedisease except that it is muchdreaded by the farmer.”
    10. 10. The Research: An Outbreak• Consumers want to know:– The location of the outbreak; typeof livestock involved– Actions taken to contain theoutbreak– The extent to which an FMDvaccine is tested and approved– What has been successful in othercountries– What happens to infected animalsafter being euthanized“I would want to know more aboutwhat steps were being taken to keepit under control. I would very closelymonitor for more information, and Iwould be sure to know my meat anddairy source before buying.”
    11. 11. Shift in Consumer Behavior• Today’s consumers are information seekers– They turn to the Internet first• There’s a delicate balance between justenough information and overload– It is important to provide enough accurateinformation, but too much can frighten consumers
    12. 12. Messages: Containment• Containment messages tested to be the mostreassuring and most likely to instill confidence• Participants noted that “is not a public healththreat” was most important and liked that“they showed collaboration”
    13. 13. Key Findings: Containment13Messages What Works What Doesn’t WorkEven though FMD is not a publichealth threat, we must contain thedisease to protect the economicviability of the beef, pork and dairyindustries and our country’s abilityto provide consumers worldwidewith an affordable and steadysupply of milk and meat.• Relevant and believable• “Is not a public health threat” isimportant• Shows concern for the economicimpact• Can it be contained and how willthey contain it?• Underlying interest in livestockcommunity’s loss of revenueWorking together, we can containFMD as quickly as possible.• The livestock community hasemployed a coordinatedcommunications plan to ensure astreamlined flow of informationamong state and federal agencies,producers, processors, retailersand consumers.Relevant and compelling, talks to theconsumer, shows collaboration, giveswebsites for more information• Will communications plan beeffective?• Message a bit long
    14. 14. Vaccinations: Awareness• Routine vaccinations are not top-of-mind toconsumers; once they are prompted to think about it,most assume it happens• A majority (55%) believe this makes products safer toconsume or has no impact on safety• Some expressed concern about the potential for it tobe passed to humans through consumption“I don’t know if animals are currently being vaccinated. It would be finewith me if they do this, as long as they test the vaccine and make surethat it would not be harmful for humans.”
    15. 15. Vaccinations: Acceptance• Vaccines for FMD:– Some consumers would likely avoid consumingmilk and meat until they knew outbreak wasunder control– Consumers support vaccinations in the event of anFMD outbreak• Consumers are reassured by the messagesthat were tested
    16. 16. Key Findings: Vaccinations16Messages What Works What Doesn’t WorkCountries where FMD is endemicroutinely vaccinate theirlivestock and those animals aresafely used for meat and milk.People around the world eatmillions of tons of meat fromanimals that are vaccinatedagainst FMD.• Believable, because providesproof the vaccine is safe andthat people have not gottensick• More information on countriesusing vaccine, the vaccineitselfMeat and milk from animalsvaccinated for FMD are safe toconsume.• Compelling, it tells you it issafe to consume• Want research to support theclaim
    17. 17. The Results: MessagesReassurance: The majority feels reassured by the different categories of messages.The FMD containment messages are the most reassuring.17
    18. 18. The Bottom Line• In the event of an FMD outbreak, ourcommunications should:– Assure consumers of food safety and what isbeing done to contain the outbreak– Be coordinated behind-the-scenes so government,subject matter expert and industry messaging isconsistent– Reference trusted and credible organizations andsources & provide links to additional information
    19. 19. The Bottom Line• Key components of messaging that resonates:− Use direct, easy to understand verbiage− Show proof for assertions - for example, scientificdocumentation that vaccine is safe for animalsand consumers of meat and milk− Integrate a human element
    20. 20. Questions?