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Chapter Seven - Risk Communications

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"Leaders should be very visible in the organization in times of adversity. This is certainly not the time to stay in the office behind the desk. People want assurance that everything will work out and it is the leaders job to provide that assurance. This is not to say that a leader is required to sugarcoat tough issues. On the contrary; people appreciate a leader who is open and honest about the circumstances. Moreover, research and practical experience has shown that what people fear about situations are the unknown aspects of the situation."
Andrew J. Harvey and Raymond E. Foster (Leadership: Texas Hold 'em Style).


Risk Management Plan Template

Checklist: First 48 Hours

Message Development Worksheet

Evaluating the Spokesperson Checklist

77 Questions Commonly Asked by a Journalist During a Crisis

Core Competency Checklist (assess your employees)

Articles on Risk Management and Risk Communications.

Risk Communications in a Healthcare Setting
One of the more commonly addressed issues of patient-clinician interaction is the skill with which physicians communicate bad news to patients. Probably more common for most physicians, however, is the need to effectively convey reassuring information when the available medical evaluation suggests the absence of a catastrophic or rapidly progressive problem. This process is known as risk communication. It is the science of communicating information about risk under circumstances involving some combination of low trust, high concern, perceived crisis, or differential interpersonal power.

The SECRET of Communicating Bad News to Employees
Organizations show their real values when they communicate bad news. Years of saying how important employees are and how much the organization cares for them can prove to be empty words based on how the organization behaves when delivering bad news.

Risk 101
In order to manage risk, it must first be identified, measured and evaluated. This is called Risk Assessment. You perform risk assessments everyday as part of your normal routine. By listening to the mornings weather report, you are gathering data to make an assessment of the risk of getting wet. The forecast provides an estimate of the probability of rain, and you determine the consequences of getting caught without an umbrella.

Introduction to Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication
Communication is a broad science and an imperfect art. Nowhere in this book is there an implied promise that a population or community faced with an emergency, crisis, or disaster will overcome its challenges solely through the application of the principles presented here. However, this book does offer the promise that an organization can compound its problems during an emergency if it has neglected sound crisis and emergency risk communication planning.

Holding a Company Meeting to Deliver Bad News
While some may argue that there is no good way to deliver bad news, some ways are certainly better than others. Should you find it necessary to make such an announcement to your employees, be sure to do it in person. No matter what the news, it is always best to allow people the opportunity to hear it from your own lips and be able to immediately respond with their questions and concerns.

Crisis Communication (High Hazard, High Outrage)
For roughly twenty years now I have defined myself as a specialist in risk communication, not crisis communication. The distinction, I kept telling people, is that risk communicators deal with what might happen, while crisis communicators deal with what just happened or is still happening. Of course the distinction was always pretty arbitrary. Some of my earliest risk communication work focused on the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident. That certainly felt like a crisis, no matter whether the discussion centered on what had gone wrong at the power plant (a crisis communication issue) or on how much radiation might be released (a risk communication issue).

Risk Communications
For both law enforcement officials and terrorist organizations, information is a valuable tool. For emergency personnel, the release and delivery of information is called risk communications. Risk communications has two broad implications the incident or hazard itself, and the public reaction to the incident. Controlling the release and delivery of information can save lives, mitigate loss and speed the resolution of a tactical situation. In addition to having two broad implications, information can be classified and used in both a strategic and tactical sense.

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Web-based resources

A Primer on Health Risk Communication

Communicating in a Crisis

Center for Risk Communication

Be First, Be Right, Be Credible

Peter Sandman Risk Communication Website

Risk Communications: A Guide to Regulatory Practices

Forms of Risk Communications

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