Risk communication

What is risk communication

Risk communication is a specialised branch within the communication framework. It stems from the conflict between experts and lay people. Opposite of crisis communication, risk communication has a long-term preventive perspective and aims to make organisations more resilient to future risks/crisis. This could involve some form communication of unwanted events or loss in the future internally, as well as externally in the organisation. 

Internal/external communication

Internal: 

A) Can be communicated vertically and horizontally.
B) Can be communicated from employees and up from the management and down.
B) Effects the culture in the organisation in relation with the impact on existing culture consider the following: Suitable for the message “top-down” Communication. Few and simple messages. Examine the effect of the message. Consider involving employees before the campaign runs. Clarify employee's perception of the case before   

External: 

1 - Reassure or warn.
2 - Dialogue is important – A risk should never stand alone.
3 - It’s not always enough to comply with the requirements of the law, especially not with the influence of the media including social media 

Pros and cons of involving stakeholders:  

Pros 

  1. Larger and more nuanced basis for risk assessment.
  2. Increased confidence.
  3. Greater acceptance of the final result.

Cons

  1. Time consuming.
  2. Can be cumbersome  

Different types of risk communication

Care communication

Care Communication is about how your organisation should handle risks which are backed by scientific research and generally accepted by the public. This type of communication should be performed before an event occurs. 

Consensus communication

This is type of risk communication where you inform and encourage groups to work together to reach a decision on how risk should be managed (usually whether to prevent or mitigate). 

Here is an example of when internal communication should occur between departments in an organisation. 

  1. A crane accident at a construction site leads to management writing a recommendation to 3 different departments: Health and safety, HR and Operations.
  2. Management writes as follows: These crane accidents WILL have to be avoided in the future! Please find or make an action plan as to how we can eliminate these problems and have it ready by the end of the month!
  3. And it continues from here…  

Crisis communication

This is a communication method related to extern suddenly occurred events. The typically events would be earthquakes, outbreaks/pandemics or otherwise severe influences from nature.  


About the Author

Mikkel K. Nyegaard

mn@rocconsult.eu

Aspiring risk manager studying Disaster & Risk management at University College Copenhagen. Currently at an intern position at RoC Consult ApS.

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