New Risk Communications Guides Published
October 15, 2012
The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has published two new guides on risk communication, “Understanding Risk Communication Theory” (PDF, 1.16 Mb) and “Understanding Risk Communication Best Practices” (PDF, 1.21 Mb). Both are geared towards emergency managers and those who have preparedness outreach responsibilities.
The guides are timely. Surveys are showing the preparedness message is getting lost or ignored by the public, and as seen in an article in Emergency Management magazine some organizations are calling for a serious reassessment of risk communications methods. One director of a nonprofit group is quoted in the article as saying, “No private-sector company would invest billions of dollars in putting out a message that had such dismal returns.”
Both the article and the START guides suggest changes. One is layered messaging; instead of either sirens or phone calls, do both. Another is geographically-targeted messaging, such as evacuation notices by ZIP code or neighborhood. A third recommendation is to begin using effective social media, as it is being relied on by the public and is becoming part of our overall culture.