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Risk Communication Slides

Vincent T. Covello, Ph.D.


Director
Center for Risk Communication
29 Washington Square West, Suite 2A
New York, New York 10011
Tel.: 646-654-1679; Fax.: 212-749-3590
email: vincentcovello@ix.netcom.com
web site: www.centerforriskcommunication.org
copyright 2002
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Risk Communication

ÖA Science-
Science-based Approach for
Communicating Effectively in:
r ‰igh-Concern, ‰igh Stress
r Emotionally Charged, or
r Controversial Situations´
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Definition of Risk:
ÖThe probability of loss of
that which we value.´

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First Steps
Î Anticipate questions and
concerns by listening
Î Prepare accurate, well
crafted, relevant, ethical,
consistent , under-
standable messages
Î Practice delivery
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Risk Communication
Research:

Example: Sound bites


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Risk Communication
Sound bite research:
Assumption: national news,
controversial topic
Î 7 to 9 seconds (21-27 words, 30
words max.)
Î 3 messages
Î 9 second knowledge/trust
window | 
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Risk Communication:
Overarching Key Messages

Î *imited message duration


Î *imited message content
Î Enhanced knowledge/trust

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X  
     
  

X  
  X  
  X  
 
  

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

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Challenge

ÖEthical Communication´
Versus
ÖSpin´

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Spin:
Ö making things appear to
be that which they are not.´

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Risk Communication
Three Primary Goals
r âncreased Knowledge
and Understanding
r Enhanced Trust and
Credibility
r Enhanced Dialogue to
Resolve Disagreements
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Additional Challenges 1

ÖThere is virtually no
correlation between the
ranking of hazards by
experts and the ranking of
those same hazards by the
public´
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ë  ë 

   
* r r i  i Hi r r i  i
. r t rt r  trt rt  r 
.  t ti l fit
 fit
. lt r â lt r
. tr ll l t tr ll l
.
ir/it l fir/iit l
. trl ri i H ri i ( )
.
ilir filir/ ti
8. t r r
. rti rti
. ilr  t  ilr  iti
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iti |    |  
ë  ë 

   
Lower Percei ed Risk Higher Percei ed Risk
11. Not memorable Memorable
12. Moral/ethical Immoral/unethical
13. Clear non- erbal Mixed non- erbal
message message
14. Responsi e Unresponsi e
15. Random/scattered Catastrophic
16. Little media attention Much media attention
17. Victims statistical Victims identifiable
18. Immediate effects Delayed effects
19. Effect re ersible Effect irre ersible
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20. Scientifically well Non
|    |   scientifically well
understood understood
Risk Perception (Outrage) Factors

Amplification Weights
Factor Weight
Trust .. .. 2000
Control .. .. 1000
Benefits . . . 1000

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Additional Challenge 2
ân ‰igh Concern Situations, People Want
to Know That You Care Before They Care
What You Know Assessed
in first 9-
*istening/Caring/ 30 seconds
Empathy
50%

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Additional Challenges 3

1N=3P
One negative equals three
positives

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Risk Communication

Sound Bite Construction Exercise

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Definition of Risk:
ÖThe probability of loss of
that which we value.´

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Risk Communication
Part of everyday life:
r at work
r at home
r in the community
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At Work: Job ânterview Questions

Î Why are you the best


candidate?
Î What are your greatest
weaknesses?
Î Where do you see
yourself in five years?
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Values at Risk
Î Safety
Î Security
Î Economic
Î ‰ealth
Î Quality of *ife
Î etc. | 
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First Steps
Î âdentify key audiences
and stakeholders.
Î Anticipate questions and
concerns
Î Prepare accurate, well
crafted, well delivered
messages | 
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First Steps
Î What are the three most
important things you would like
your audience to know
Î What are the three most
important things your audience
would like to know
Î What are the three most
important things your audience
is most likely to get wrong unless
they are emphasized
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Examples

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X  
     
  

X  
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  X  
 
  

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

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Smallpox Questions
Î ‰ow contagious is
smallpox?

Î âs there enough vaccine?

Î What are the signs and


symptoms of smallpox?
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Question: ‰ow contagious is
smallpox?

r Key Message 1: Spreads slowly


r Key Message 2: Time to contact
r Key Message 3: Vaccination

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Smallpox Questions:
CDC Message Mapping Project
r Over 60 draft maps
prepared

r Sources for questions

r Focus group testing


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X  
   

  !

X  
   X  
  X  
 

          


  |  


X  X  X  


 
  
  

      

X  X  X 


 

  
 
  

   

X  X  X  "


 
  
  

      

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Job ânterview Questions

Î Why are you the best


candidate?
Î What are your greatest
weaknesses?
Î Where do you see
yourself in five years?
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X  
     
  

X  
  X  
  X  
 
  

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

X  X  X 


 
  
  

      

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Message Mapping

Follow-up Questions

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X  
    # 

Worker Exposure to
silica dust
X  
   X  
  X  
 

     


     !  " # "
       
X  X  X 
 

  
#   "  

 
%  

 

  
$  &  

X  X  X 


 

  
!'  
    


   
    "  
 
X  X  X 
 

 

  
#  "       

 
(
    &  
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Risk Communication

Origins of the Field

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Risk Communication

ÖA Science-
Science-based Approach for
Communicating Effectively in:
r ‰igh-Concern
r Emotionally Charged, , or
r Controversial Situations´
| 
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|    |  
Risk Communication
Origins of the Field
Î Deep ‰istorical Roots
 Mental Noise Theory
 Trust Determination Theory
Î More Recent Roots
 Risk Perception Theory
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Risk Communication
Ö ...in high concern ´

‰igh Concern ‰igh Concern


*ow Trust ‰igh Trust
(essential) (essential)

*ow Concern *ow Concern


*ow Trust ‰igh Trust
(recommended) (optional)
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Risk Communication
Origins of the Field
Î Deep ‰istorical Roots
 Mental Noise Theory
 Trust Determination Theory
Î More Recent Roots
 Risk Perception Theory
| 
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|    |  
Risk Communication
Origins of the Field
Î Deep Roots
 Mental Noise Theory
 Trust Determination Theory
Î

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Mental Noise Theory

When people are stressed or


upset, they have difficulty :
Î hearing information
Î understanding information
Î remembering information
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Mental Noise Theory: Verbal
Messages âmplications -- Core

Î *imited time (e.g., attention


span)
Î *imited content (e.g., 3
messages)
Î Clear (e.g., 6th grade)
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Mental Noise Theory: Verbal
Message âmplications -- Add-Ons
Î Repetition (e.g., internal
and external)
Î Prioritized (e.g., first and
last)
Î Visuals (graphics, demos)
Î 1N = 3P | 
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Mental Noise Theory:
Non-Verbal Messages
r Provides up to 50-75% of
message content
r Noticed intensely and
negatively interpreted
r Overrides verbal
communication
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Risk Communication
Origins of the Field
Î Deep Roots
 Mental Noise Theory
 Trust Determination Theory
Î

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Trust DeterminationTheory

When people are stressed or


upset, they often distrust that
others are:
Î listening, caring, empathy
Î honest, open
Î competent, expert
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Trust DeterminationTheory

Mirroring

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Question: Genetically Modified
Food and Allergies
Key Message 1:Tested

Key Message 2:Conventional

Foods

Key Message 3:âdentify Gene


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Risk Communication
Origins of the Field
Î More Recent Roots
 Risk Perception Theory

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ë  ë 

   
* r ri  i Hi r ri  i
. rt rt  r trt rt  r
.  ttil fit
 fit
. ltr â ltr
.  tr ll l t  tr ll l
.
ir/it l fir/iit l
. trl ri i H ri i ( )
.
ilir filir/ ti
8. t r r
. rti rti
. ilr  t  ilr  iti
| 
 |  
iti |    |  
ë  ë 

   
* r ri  i Hi r ri  i
. t  r l  r l
.  rl/til â rl/til
 . lr  - r l i  - r l
 
.  i  r i 
.  /ttr ttr i
. *ittl i ttti   i ttti 
!. iti ttitil iti itifi l
8. âit fft l fft
. fft r ri l "fft irr ri l
. itifill ll
| 
 |    itifill ll
rt  |    |  
rt 
Risk Perception (Outrage) Factors

Amplification Weights
Factor Weight
Trust .. .. 2000
Control .. .. 1000
Fairness . . . 500

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Control Factors

r Choice

r Voice

r Knowledge

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|    |  
Risk Communication
Three Primary Goals
r âncreased Knowledge
and Understanding
r Enhanced Trust and
Credibility
r Enhanced Dialogue to
Resolve Disagreements
| 
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|    |