Instructional Strategies for Tailoring Risk Communication Messaging

  • Sellnow, Timothy (PI)
  • Veil, Shari (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


This project identifies consumer segments based on their general attitudes and values that can be used to develop effective messaging to mitigate the impact of a terrorism events. In 1989, the National Research Council affirmed for the scientific community the long-standing mantra of many communication scholars: risk communication can and should function as a dialogue among organizations, government agencies, and all relevant stakeholders. While this dialogue is certainly relevant to all forms of risk, crisis situations create an inherent constraint on dialogue. As Heath and O’Hair explain, crisis is risk manifested (Heath & O’Hair). Thus, an acute crisis situation requires the rapid exchange of messages designed to gain compliance from all stakeholders in hopes of minimizing or mitigating harm. For too long, government agencies presumed that a single warning shared through standard media channels was sufficient for reaching all stakeholders during a crisis. This linear view fails to account for the diverse informational needs and cultural constraints within the broad audiences that are confronted by crises (Sellnow, Ulmer, Seeger, & Littlefield). As a means of addressing variance of audience needs, more recent scholarship has bridged instructional research with risk communication. The objective of this blended approach is to enhance an organization or agency’s capacity to generate messages that attend to the varying learning styles inherent in their audiences. Moreover, this line of research seeks to account for varying cultural preferences in crisis messages. Through ongoing message testing procedures, current research seeks to engage diverse audience in a dialogue of message preferences prior to a crisis situation.
Effective start/end date10/1/129/30/13


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