The significance of crisis and risk communication

Robert L. Heath, H. Dan O'Hair

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Get a credible spokesperson who can deliver a knowledgeable message in a clear manner. Communicate in ways-dress, manner, and posture-that encourage audiences to identify with risk communicators. Be clear to be understood. Be sensitive to the audience members' outrage and concerns. Time was, when this kind of advice captured the essence of risk and crisis communication. Let experts determine the probabilities of risks, hold a public meeting, share this expertise with those who attend, and move on with the project. Or, just do the project and wait until the protests occur and let public relations experts handle the problem. Know the risk, frame the risk with a fear appeal (of varying degrees), report the risk, and gain the advantage of behavioral change to alter targeted audiences' health related behavior. Do your best with risk communication, but only become truly serious if protesters raise challenges that achieve crisis level. This kind of reasoning once was, and even today often seems to be, a compelling logic underpinning risk communication in the community relations and public health tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Risk and Crisis Communication
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)0203891627, 9781135597757
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2009 Taylor & Francis. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Social Sciences


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