A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Enacting best practices in risk communication

START researchers present at annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication

While communication best practices frequently come in the form of lists of tasks, they often do not take into account the unique factors surrounding a crisis that make even a simple list difficult to complete. START affiliated researchers Melissa Janoske, Brooke Liu and Stephanie Madden examined the current best practices in the field of risk communication, as well as challenges and opportunities to enacting best practices, and presented their research at the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) on Aug. 12 in Chicago, Ill.

Janoske, Liu and Madden expanded upon past work on best practices in risk communication by including a prominent practitioner perspective and a focus on special populations that may not be reachable by traditional channels of communication.

The researchers found lack of organizational buy-in regarding the importance of risk communication as a main impediment to enacting best practices. Study results also suggest the use of marketing principles to sell the idea of risk communication to better incorporate risk communication action into people's everyday lives.

"Too often academics sit around telling themselves what they know about risk communication without taking the time to understand what it is like communicating risk in practice," said Melissa Janoske, START affiliated researcher and lead author.

"It was important for us to include both academic and practitioner perspectives regarding what the best practices are in risk communication, but more importantly, what is actually feasible in enacting those best practices and how can we better address obstacles and opportunities."

This study was based off of a workshop organized by START in February in Atlanta, Ga. that brought together 21 leading academics and practitioners in the field of risk and crisis communication. The workshop and study were supported by the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division through the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).