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					Using Health and Medical Physicist Volunteers
and Other Radiation Professionals with Local
     Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Units
           as Risk Communicators

                                Training provided by:
                               Health Physics Society
                           Homeland Security Committee

• Adapted from training materials developed by the Florida Department of Health,
   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
   and other sources including Dr. Vincent Covello.
         Purpose of this Training

• To provide health and medical physicists
 and other radiation professionals with:
   • a basic knowledge of risk communications.
   • basic communications training to be able to function
     as subject matter experts in a radiological/nuclear
   • the terminology used in risk communications.
   • Just-in-Time training on risk communications in a
     radiological/nuclear emergency.
            Training Outline

• This training is in a self-paced format
 and divided into three sections.
• The trainee can participate in each
 section or only one or two depending on
 past experience and current needs.
          Section Outline

• Section 1 – Risk Communications
 and Message Development
• Section 2 – Delivering the Message
 and Spokesperson Training
• Section 3 – Understanding and
 Dealing with the Media
          Section 1
Risk Communications and Message
                 Section 1
Risk Communications and Message Development

• Module 1 – Risk Communications
• Module 2 – Message Maps
                   Module 1
         Risk Communications

This module will introduce you to communications skills and
                     public information.
  What is Risk Communications?

• Risk communications are central to
 public health and other agencies in
 conveying their messages to the diverse
 populations they serve.

• The timely and effective dissemination
 of information about a high-stress topic
 or event so that individuals can make
 informed decisions and take appropriate
 actions for health and safety.
  What is Risk Communications?

• A method of providing information about
 an expected outcome of a certain
 behavior or exposure.

• The interrelationship between the
 urgency of a crisis and the immediate
 need to communicate risks to the public.
         Key Messages of Risk
• Risk communications is an evidence-
 based discipline.
• High stress situations change the rules
 of communications
• The key to critical communication
 success is anticipation, preparation,
 and practice.

  V. Covello : ―95% of concerns and questions for
 any crisis can be predicted in advance.‖
             The APP Template

1.   Anticipate

2. Prepare

3. Practice
Anticipate, Prepare, Practice (1)

1.   Likely Radiological/Nuclear Scenarios
     •   Detonation of an Improvised Nuclear
         Device (IND)
     •   Use of a Radiological Dispersal
         Device (RDD)
     •   Discovery of a Radiation Exposure
         Device (RED)
     •   Transportation incident involving
         radioactive materials
     •   Nuclear power plant event or terrorist
     Anticipate, Prepare, Practice (2)

2.    Stakeholder/partners to be involved
       • Scenario dependent
       • Public
       • Media
       • Private business
       • Government
       • Tribes
     Anticipate, Prepare, Practice (3)

3.    Questions and concerns most likely
       • See reference list for the seventy-seven most
           frequently asked questions by journalists in a
           disaster (Covello)

        • Examples:
           •   Who is in charge?
           •   What are your qualifications
           •   Is there anything good you can tell us?
  Anticipate, Prepare, Practice (4)

Dr. Covello is developing for the NRC a
 list of 400+ questions regarding a
 nuclear or radiological incident as part of
    Risk Communication Benefits

•   Engender agreement
•   Reduce mistrust/fear/stress
•   Resolve conflict
•   Improve knowledge/control
•   Business becomes easier and cheaper
Characteristics of a Good Spokesperson
 • Communicates simply using easily
  understood terms

 • Focuses on immediate impact to the public
 • Able to convey empathy and caring

 • Demonstrates competence and expertise
 • Communicates honestly and openly
Characteristics of a Good Spokesperson

  • Shows commitment and dedication
  • Sensitive and responsive to concerns
  • Expresses optimism
  • Stays calm and collected
  • Exhibits positive body language
  • Responds quickly to public/media inquiry
       MRC Spokesperson
 Suggested Background Training (1)
Suggested on-line training available as:
IS 7    A Citizen’s Guide to Disaster Assistance

IS 22   Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness

IS 100.a Introduction to Incident Command System

IS 200.a ICS for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents

IS 700.a National Incident Management System (NIMS), An
      MRC Spokesperson
Suggested Background Training (2)
Suggested on-line training available as:
IS 800.b National Response Framework, An Introduction

IS 702   National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) Public
          Information Systems

IS 808   Public Health and Medical Services (ESF-8)
       MRC Spokesperson
Suggested Background Training (3)
Optional in-class training available
 (locally/state) as:
 ICS 300 Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents

 ICS 400 Advanced ICS Command and General Staff – Complex

 FEMA G289 Public Information Officer Awareness

 Public Health 101 (usually provided by local health department, but
 URLs to suggested introductions to public health included here in
 Section 2, Module 8)
      A Good Risk Definition

“The probability of loss of that which
 we value.”
                 - Dr. Vincent Covello
          How the Public Views Risk

• Risks viewed as:        • …are more accepted
   •Voluntary              than risks viewed as:
   •Under one’s control      •Being imposed by others
   •With clear benefits      •Controlled by others
   •Distributed fairly       •Of little or no benefit
   •Natural                  •Unfairly distributed
   •Statistical              •Man-made
   •From a trusted           •Catastrophic
   source                    •From an untrusted source
   •Familiar                 •Exotic
   •Affecting adults         •Affecting children
   The Overarching Goal in any
    Communication Situation

To provide a clear and concise message
to the right audience, at the right time,
using the most effective medium.

Helping people understand is particularly crucial in a
 public health emergency or crisis.
        The CDC STARCC Principle
During a disaster, people respond to clear
 instructions and want to be guided by
 government authorities. The way the
 message is framed is very important.

In a crisis, your radiological or nuclear
  message must be:
   •   Simple
   •   Timely
   •   Accurate
   •   Relevant
   •   Credible
   •   Consistent
  Important Points to Remember
In an emergency, information must be
disseminated accurately and quickly!
 • Media is the best dissemination vehicle for most
 •   Plan ahead and be proactive.
 •   Use technology, but be prepared for it to fail.
 •   Know your role in the Incident Command System.
 •   Know your role in the Joint Information Center
     (JIC)/Joint Information System (JIS).
 •   Know your communication and emergency plans.
       Joint Information System (JIS)
• Integrates incident information and public affairs into a
  cohesive organization designed to provide consistent,
  coordinated, accurate, accessible, timely, and complete
  information during crisis or incident operations
• Provides a structure and system for developing and
  delivering coordinated interagency messages; developing,
  recommending, and executing public information plans and
  strategies on behalf of the IC; advising the IC concerning
  public affairs issues that could affect a response effort; and
  controlling rumors and inaccurate information that could
  undermine public confidence in the emergency response
• Is a network for sharing information that will be made public;
  it is not a physical location. Once a physical location is set-
  up to accomplish public information, it is called a Joint
  Information Center.
        Joint Information Center (JIC)

• A physical location where agencies PIOs work together
  to respond to manage and coordinate incident public
• Members work together to provide coordinated, timely,
  accurate information to the public and other
• News releases are written, spokespersons are prepared
  for interviews, news conferences are held, information
  hotlines are managed.
• News media may also work from this location or may
  attend this location for news conferences and interviews.
Communicating in a crisis is different
• In a serious crisis, affected people
   • Take in information differently
   • Process information differently
   • Act on information differently
• In a catastrophic radiological or nuclear
   • communication is different
• Be first, be right, be credible
  What the Public Will Ask First

• Are my family and I safe?
• What have you found that may affect
• What can I do to protect myself and
 my family?
• Who caused this?
• Can you fix it?
  What the Media Will Ask First
• What happened?
• Who is in charge?
• Has this been contained?
• Are victims being helped?
• What can we expect?
• What should we do?
• Why did this happen?
• Did you have forewarning?
     Five Communication Failures That
          Kill Operational Success
1.    Mixed messages from multiple experts
2.    Information released late
3.    Paternalistic attitudes
4.    Not countering rumors and myths in real-
5.    Public power struggles and confusion
What Do People Feel Inside When
 a Disaster Looms or Occurs?

Psychological barriers:
  1.   Denial
  2.   Fear, anxiety, confusion, dread
  3.   Hopelessness or helplessness
  4.   Seldom panic
                 People at Risk
        What is the Individual Cost?
• Demands for unneeded testing/treatment
   • Want to be decontaminated
   • Want to be tested for internal deposition

• Dependence on special relationships
• MUPS—Multiple Unexplained Physical
• Self-destructive behaviors
• Stigmatization
         Community at Risk
      What is the Societal Cost?

• Disorganized group behavior
 (unreasonable demands, stealing)
• Rumors, hoaxes, fraud, stigmatization
• Trade/industry liabilities/losses
• Diplomacy
• Civil actions
Communicating in a Crisis Is Different
• Public must feel empowered – to reduce fear
 and feelings of victimization
• Mental preparation reduces anxiety
• Taking action reduces anxiety
• Uncertainty must be addressed

 “When people are stressed and upset, they want to
 know that you care before they care what you know.”
Five Key Elements To Build Trust

 1. Expressed empathy
 2. Competence
 3. Honesty
 4. Commitment
 5. Accountability
Accuracy of

 Speed of
                   +    =

               What we all want!
           Proactive vs. Reactive
• Think ahead.
• Be timely and accurate.
• Establish positive media relationships.
• Anticipate expectations of public
• Know the community’s hazards.
• Plan accordingly.
 Only reacting will make you appear unprepared, insensitive,
      untrustworthy, and secretive.
    Getting Information to the Public
             (Available via Emergency Management)

• Emergency Alert               • PA systems on
    System                        emergency vehicles
•   NOAA Weather Radio          • Internet and E-mail
•   Ham radio operators         • Direct Satellite Uplinks
•   Cable companies             • Local broadcasting
•   Weather channel
                                • Social media: Twitter,
•   Government access             Facebook
Now Let’s Pull All of This
         Module 2

Message Development and Mapping
Give your message -- Say it in 27- 9 - 3

• Have an objective for the interview
   • You don’t have to conform to the reporter’s
     agenda for the story.
• Develop your core message to support that
   • Your core message is also the phrase that you can
     return to each time you get a question that you are
     not able to answer.
• Your core message should be (Covello):
   • 27 words long; 9 seconds in length; 3 main points.
   • 27 words for three statements.
• Use Message Maps (see next slide)
                The Message

An effective message begins with a
 ―message map‖:
    It identifies key messages.
    It offers responses to anticipated questions.
    It outlines key messages for a high-concern or
       controversial issue.
      It ensures consistent messages.
      It guides and directs spokespersons.
      It encourages the organization to speak with one
      It promotes open dialogue.
            Basics of Message Mapping*
• The following slides will guide you through
  the message mapping process.
• A message is a roadmap for displaying
  detailed, hierarchically organized responses
  to anticipated questions or concerns.
• It is a visual aid that provides, at a glance,
  the organization’s messages for high
  concern or controversial issues.

 *Adapted from Vincent T. Covello, PhD,“Message Mapping”, available
       The Message Map
  Key          Key         Key
Message 1    Message 2   Message 3
 SF1          SF1         SF1

 SF2          SF2         SF2

 SF3          SF3         SF3
     Eight Goals of Message Mapping (1)

1.    Identifying stakeholders early in the
      communication process.
2.    Anticipating stakeholder questions and
      concerns before they are raised.
3.    Organizing our thinking and developing
      prepared messages in response to
      anticipated stakeholder questions and
4.    Developing key messages and supporting
      information within a clear, concise,
      transparent, and accessible framework
  Eight Goals of Message Mapping (2)

5. Promoting open dialogue about
   messages both inside and outside the
6. Providing user friendly guidance to
7. Ensuring that the organization has a
   central repository of consistent
8. Encouraging the organization
   to speak with one voice.
 Message Mapping: Seven Steps
1. Identify stakeholders for a specified
   emergency, crisis, or disaster event
2. Identify stakeholder questions and
3. Identify common sets of concerns
4. Develop key messages
5. Develop supporting information
6. Conduct testing
7. Plan for delivery
  Seven Steps to Constructing a
        Message Map (1)
Step 1: Identify stakeholders for a
 specified emergency, crisis, or disaster
 incident or event
   • These would include interested or affected parties
     involved with a radiological or nuclear disaster.
  Seven Steps to Constructing a
        Message Map (2)
Step 2: Identify stakeholder questions and
   • Most questions related to a radiological/nuclear
     emergency can be anticipated.
   • Covello is developing for the NRC a list of 400+
   • Anticipate being asked some of these questions.
   Seven Steps to Constructing a
         Message Map (3)

Step 3: Identify common sets of concerns.
   • Studies have shown that most public health issues
     are associated with 8-15 underlying concerns.
   • These concerns include: health and safety;
     ecological; economic; quality of life; equity/fairness;
     cultural/symbolic; legal/regulatory; basic
     informational – who, what, where, when, why, how;
     openness, transparency, and access to information;
     accountability; options and alternatives; control;
     voluntariness; benefits; and, trust.
  Seven Steps to Constructing a
        Message Map (4)
Step 4: Develop key messages.
  • Respond to the list of underlying stakeholder
    concerns and specific stakeholder questions.
  • Work with other health physicists and/or
    communications staff, if possible.
  • Develop a narrative that can be reduced to key
    messages and entered on the message map.
  Seven Steps to Constructing a
     Message Map (4) (cont.)
• Mental noise theory – when people are
 upset they often have difficulty hearing,
 understanding, and remembering
 information. Mental noise can reduce
 the ability to process information by
• This amounts to a loss of four grade
 levels below average learning capacity.
  Seven Steps to Constructing a
     Message Map (4) (cont.)

The challenges of mental noise theory:
   • Overcome the barriers that mental noise creates.
   • Produce accurate messages for diverse
   • Achieve maximum communication effectiveness
     within the constraints posed by mental noise.
  Seven Steps to Constructing a
     Message Map (4) (cont.)
Solutions to mental noise theory include:
   • Developing a limited number of key messages, i.e.,
     3 key messages or one key message with 3 parts
     for each underlying concern or specific question
   • Keeping individual messages brief, i.e., less than 3
     sec. or less than 9 words for each key message and
     less than 9 sec. and 27 words for the three key
     messages (brevity).
   • Developing messages that are understandable, i.e.,
     at the 6-8th grade level for communications (clarity).
       The Message Map
  Key          Key         Key
Message 1    Message 2   Message 3
 SF1          SF1         SF1

 SF2          SF2         SF2

 SF3          SF3         SF3
    Seven Steps to Constructing a
       Message Map (4) (cont.)
Solutions to mental noise theory include:
   • Placing messages within a message set so that the
     most important messages occupy the first and last
   • Developing key messages that cite credible third
     parties, e.g., Health Physics Society, AAPM.
   • Using graphics and other visual aids to enhance key
   • Balancing negative messages with positive,
     constructive, or solution-oriented key messages.
   • Avoiding unnecessary uses of the words ―no, not,
     never, nothing, or none‖.
   Seven Steps to Constructing a
         Message Map (5)
Step 5: Develop supporting information.
   • The dilemma:
      ―Facts about risk appear to play little or no role in
       determining public perceptions and concerns
       about the risk‖ (Covello)
   • The solution:
     • Provide understandable information and proofs
       for each message
     • Keep repeating the same message
 Seven Steps to Constructing a
       Message Map (6)

Step 6: Conduct testing:
   • Subject matter expert review.
   • Test the message with key stakeholders or their
   • Sharing and test with partners.
  Seven Steps to Constructing a
        Message Map (7)
Step 7: Plan for delivery
   • Which individuals/organizations are trusted to this
   • Which spokespersons will deliver the messages?
   • Which communications channels might be
     delivering these messages?
       Section 2
Delivering the Message and
  Spokesperson Training
• Module 3 – News Writing in a Disaster
• Module 4 – News Interviews
• Module 5 – Interview Tips
• Module 6 – Just-in-Time training
• Module 7 – Emergency Communications
• Module 8 – Public Health 101
       Module 3
News Writing in a Disaster
   Forms of News Writing

• News statements
• News releases
• Fact sheets
• Bios
• Backgrounders
• Media Advisories
• Opinion piece
              Info Conveyance

In an emergency, information that might
  need to be conveyed through these
  forms of news writing may include:
  • Updates about an ongoing issue.
  • Activities being carried out by response and recovery
  • Warnings and communication that address
    immediate issues, such as protective actions to take,
    shelter locations, evacuation routes, water status
    and medical needs.
             News Statements

News statements are not news releases,
  •   Are usually a few paragraphs in length.
  •   Are often attributed to a high-ranking authority.
  •   May counter contrary views or misinformation.
  •   May be used to offer encouragement to victims.
            Opinion Piece or Op-Ed

Opinion pieces, published opposite the
 editorial page, can help legitimize your
 cause and spokesperson. Can be used
 before a disaster occurs to let community
 know that an radiation expert is available, if

For publication…
   •   Ask about length (500-1000 words).
   •   Determine the writing style.
   •   Determine how it must be submitted.
   •   Could be an opportunity for good public relations
             News Releases

•   Tell the public about an issue:
     •What you are doing.
     •What they need to know.
     •What’s next.

•   Demonstrate control.
•   Demonstrate effective management.
•   Establish an organizational presence
•   Enhance information flow to the media.
        News Release Content

A release is written in newspaper style:
• Lead sentence: who, what,
                                           Critical Information
     when, where, why and how
• Second sentence: supports the                  Less
      lead and may contain a quote             Important

• Subsequent content: written
       in descending order of importance
• Text is short and to the point. No speculation.
  Module 4
News Interviews
       Interviews are Opportunities

An interview is an opportunity to deliver a
   • Give the reporter your message.
   • Use quotable quotes.

• Know your story.
   •   State your message and return to it.
   •   Use questions to deliver the message.
   •   Brand your message.
   •   Be confident! You are the expert!
           Types of Interviews

• Print vs. broadcast
• General vs. investigative
• Unexpected (ambush) vs. prearranged
• Office vs. on-site
TIPS (see Module 5)
  •   Remain calm and in control.
  •   Remember, you are the official source.
  •   Be honest and transparent.
  •   Maintain the positive image of your organization.
               Taking Control

• Tell your story.
   • Every question is a chance to bridge to your
                                      An interview is a
   • Be specific.                 choreographed exchange
   • Put issues into context.          of information

• Speak with conviction.
• Project confidence.
• Do not debate other points of view.

    Never, never, never repeat negative language!
        Before the Interview
• Ask for the interview topic.
• Determine your central message.
• Prepare 3 message points.
• Rehearse 8- to 10-second sound bites.
• Prepare for potential questions.
• Prepare for the toughest question.

         The 5 W’s + 1 H will always be asked. Be prepared!
         During the Interview
  • Remain calm.
  • Maintain eye contact and be aware of body
  •   Listen to and briefly answer each question.
  •   Be direct and honest.
  •   Learn to say, ―I don’t know, but I’ll find out.‖
  •   Defer to subject matter experts when appropriate.
  •   Make your points.
  •   Provide your support.
  •   Conclude your statements.
  •   Stop talking!
                The Don’ts!
   • Use ―I‖
   • Speculate
   • Make promises you can’t keep
   • Use jargon, technical terms, acronyms
   • Use negative words and phrases
   • Blame others
   • Discuss costs
   • Make jokes
   • Repeat negative allegations
   • Become defensive
   • Go off the record.
          After the Interview
     (Depending on the Situation)

• Ask the reporter when the story will run.
• Thank the reporter.
• Make yourself available if the reporter
 needs more information.
  Module 5
Interview Tips
           Know Your Story!
  The more times you hear this the better!

• Go into the interview with your own
• Commit your messages to memory.
• Use questions to deliver your
• Return to your messages consistently.
• Be confident! You are the expert!
To Increase Your Effectiveness…
• Speak in clear and brief sentences.
• Give succinct messages.
• Offer accurate and relevant information.
• Be a credible source of facts and
• Use ―media friendly‖ language.
• Offer ―quotable quotes.‖
• Speak visually, creating mental pictures.
          Anticipate the Questions
Anticipate controversial questions and
 prepare answers.
   •   What happened?
   •   When did it happen?
   •   Where did it happen?
   •   Why did it happen?
   •   Who did it happen to?
   •   How did it happen?
   •   What was the damage?
   •   Who is responsible? Don’t place blame.
   •   What do you plan to do about it?
   •   When will we get more information?
   Develop Quick Responses
 Preparation, preparation, preparation!

Always be prepared with:
   • Basic information for expected questions, Q&A
   • More detailed responses for more complex
     questions to put potentially explosive issues to
          Bridge to Key Messages
                                     Bridging helps you
                                        take control
                                   and avoid interrogation.

• ―What I am really here to   • ―Let me put this in
 talk to you about is...‖      perspective...‖
• ―Before we leave that...‖   • ―What you should know is...‖
• ―Let me answer by           • ―The most important point is...‖
                              • ―We are now doing…‖
• ―I think you are asking
 about…‖.                     • I don’t want to speculate about
                               what might happen…‖
• ―Here are the steps we
 have taken…‖
          In-Person Interviews

• Be punctual.
• Wear appropriate clothing.
• Have reporter’s contact information.
• Relax! Body language, facial expressions and
 personality are interpreted with what you say.
• Consider the interview a formal presentation,
 even if you are in a casual setting.
• Listen carefully to each question and take
 your time in answering.
               Phone Interviews

Tips for a successful phone interview:
   •   Hold your calls.
   •   Give full attention to the interview.
   •   Have key messages in front of you.
   •   Stand or sit up.
   •   Smile and project warmth and authority.
   •   DON’T feel obligated to fill a void or pause.
   •   Do not use a speaker phone.
   There is no “Off the Record”

  • Anything you say may become a headline.

  • If you don’t want it quoted, don’t say it.

  • If you misspeak, calmly correct your statement.
                          Module 6

              Just-in-Time Training

(For those with not enough time to read the previous 5 modules, you should
                  at least know the contents of this module)
        Top 10 Ways to Avoid
     Communications Mistakes* (1)
1.   Your words have consequences—make sure
     they are the right ones.
2.   Don’t appear uncertain. Know what you want
     to say, then say it. Then say it again, as
3.   If you don’t know what you’re talking about,
     stop talking.
4.   Focus on informing people, not impressing
     them. Use everyday language.
5.   Never say anything you don’t want to see
     printed on tomorrow’s front page.
         Top 10 Ways to Avoid
      Communications Mistakes* (2)
6.    NEVER LIE!
7.    Avoid making promises, false assurances
      or guarantees.
8.    Don’t say ―No comment.‖ You’ll look as if
      you are hiding something.
9.    Don’t get angry. When you argue with the
      media, you always lose—and you lose
10.   Don’t speculate, guess or assume.
      When you don’t know something,
      say so.
                              Module 7

           Emergency Communications “Top
               10” Planning Checklist

          Adapted from the EPA’s,
      ―Communicating Radiation Risks‖
     Emergency Communications “Top
        10” Planning Checklist (1)

1.    Form a crisis communications team.
       • Keep it as small as needed.
       • Staff with experts, as required, including
         radiation, communications, public health, and
       • The team would be responsible for developing
         communication actions steps for a
         radiological/nuclear emergency.
Emergency Communications “Top
   10” Planning Checklist (2)

2.   Develop communications goals.
      •   Inform the public of the situation and
          specific dangers.
      •   Provide guidance on appropriate responses.
      •   Ease the public’s concerns by being
          prepared to answer or refer questions.
 Emergency Communications “Top
    10” Planning Checklist (3)

3. Develop a list of anticipated questions
   and messages.
     • Develop, in advance, messages for the full range
         of radiological/nuclear emergency scenarios.
     •   Anticipate questions for each scenario
     •   Prepare messages in all appropriate languages.
     Emergency Communications “Top
        10” Planning Checklist (4)

4.    Prepare, in advance, facts sheets and
      background materials.
      •   CLEAR – Simplify technical language for easy
          understanding at the 6 – 8th grade level.
      •   CONCISE – Limit each item to three key
          messages with supporting information.
      •   BRIEF – Recognize that attention spans are
          limited during an emergency.
     Emergency Communications “Top
        10” Planning Checklist (5)

5.    Develop precise logistics, roles, and functions.
       • Determine roles for each member of the team.
       • Create a backup communications plan of what
            to do if technology fails or those who are
            designated to be in charge are not available.
        •   Create a 24/7 contact list for your emergency
            response team members and decide who will
            contact each person and in what order.
Emergency Communications “Top
   10” Planning Checklist (6)
6.   Coordinate communications
     procedures with other relevant
     agencies and organizations.
      •   Determine who speaks to the media and
          public on particular subjects.
      •   Determine who are primary and secondary
          contacts and experts for key offices and
 Emergency Communications “Top
    10” Planning Checklist (7)
7.   Identify and provide media training for
     lead and secondary spokespersons.
      •   Include all relevant agencies and emergency
      •   Select spokespersons who:
            •    Remain calm and controlled when addressing the
            •    Can communicate in non-technical, ordinary
            •    Can retain and deliver key messages.
            •    Can convey empathy and concern with sincerity.
            •    Are knowledgeable.
      •   Use a good spokesperson trainer, if necessary
Emergency Communications “Top
   10” Planning Checklist (8)

8.   Determine how to get your message
      •   Identify normal best channels.
      •   Develop alternatives if normal
          communications channels break down
Emergency Communications “Top
   10” Planning Checklist (9)

9.   Develop and maintain media lists.
       • Should be available from public health PIO,
       • Includes names, phone numbers, and email
         addresses for media contacts.
       • List should be kept up-to-date and readily
       • List should be available in electronic and
         printed versions.
Emergency Communications “Top
  10” Planning Checklist (10)

10.   Practice
       • Put your planning into practice with
           scenario-based exercises or drills.
       •   Evaluate the outcomes of the exercises
           to identify strengths and areas for
    Module 8

Public Health 101
    Public Health and the MRC

• Most MRCs are sponsored by public
 health departments
• Health and medical physicists as SMEs
 should be aware of the normal and
 emergency operations of their local
 health department
• The health department is the connection
 to local emergency management.
        Public Health Videos

• The following URLs have general
 information on the operation of public
  • What is Public Health? (Flash presentation)
  • What is Public health? (on-line course: 2.5
         Section 3

Understanding and Dealing with
          the Media
• Module 9 – The Media
• Module 10 – Avoiding Interview
                 Module 9
                 The Media

There is a terrific disadvantage in not having the
abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily.
Even though we never like it, and even though we
wish they didn't write it, and even though we
disapprove, there isn't any doubt that we could not
do the job at all in a free society without a very, very
active press.
                        John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth
                        President of the United States
       Who are the Media?

• Newspapers and magazines
• Radio
   • 24-hour coverage
• Television
   • 24-hour coverage: CNN, FOX, MSNBC
• Other media types
   • Wire Services
      • Associated Press, Reuters
   • Internet
   • Social media: Twitter, You Tube
          Working with the Media

The primary functions of the spokesperson
   • Building and maintaining professional relationships.
   • Remembering the 5 Ws and 1 H of providing
       • Who, What, When, Where, Why, How
   • Accommodating media’s varying needs
       • TV needs visuals.
       • Radio needs ―now‖ interviews and sound bites.
       • Print needs details and in-depth stories.
                   Media Goals

•   To find and cover newsworthy events
•   To inform the public
•   For most, fair, accurate, honest reporting

Effects of media assistance:
     • Helps reduce panic.
     • Prepares the public for action.
     • Warns the public of what may follow.

       Have the media work with us!
            Media Relations…

• Don’t wait for an emergency. Know the local
• Are enhanced by inviting media to training
 exercises for MRC SMEs and asking their
• May be fostered by hosting a ―Media Day‖ or
 conducting onsite visits with media to
 enhance relationships with the MRC.
         Media Relations…

To cultivate media relationships:
   •Be credible, dependable, and accessible.
   •Maintain confidentiality.
   •Be flexible and accurate.
   •Have a consistent media policy.
                  Print Media
   • High dependence on phone links to transmit
     information to publishing houses
   • More depth and background—human interest
   • Longer-lasting archives and records—Internet

   •   Trustworthy sources
   •   Analysis and roll-up of activities
   •   Chronologies
   •   Feature stories
   •   Graphics
   •   Photos
                    Radio Media
   • Desire to be first to report a story—Internet
   •   Production of short reports.
   •   Pride in immediacy of reporting.
   •   Ability to put authorities on the air quickly.
   •   An essential disaster warning tool.
   •   Ambient noise.

   •   Sound bites in 10 seconds or less.
   •   Spokesperson with command of language.
   •   Spokesperson who avoids colloquialism.
   •   Spokesperson with clear, measured voice.
              Television Media

   •   Powerful visuals
   •   Short sound bites (often over video images)
   •   Often influenced by broadcast times and schedules
   •   Established CNN and cable impact—Internet
   •   Trustworthy sources
   •   Sound bites in 10 seconds or less
   •   Visuals of the scene and real people
   •   B-roll
        On-site Media Needs

• Access issues: computers, phone and
 fax lines, Internet
• Satellite trucks and uplinks
• Pooling facilities
• National and local media logistical
• Access to people and the ―human touch‖
        Module 10
Avoiding Interview Pitfalls
   How to Avoid Interview Pitfalls

Journalists develop individual techniques
 to get their stories. Being aware of
 these methods can help you avoid them.
    The Rapid Question Asker

  • The interviewer fires questions at you and you try
    to answer all of them.

  • To regain control, choose one question and
    answer it.

  • ―I think what you are asking …‖
              The Interrupter

   • The interviewer cuts off your answers, turning the
       interview into an interrogation.

   • Politely continue your statement, simply and

   • ―I’ll be happy to answer that in a moment, but
       as I was saying…‖
    The Aggressive Interviewer

   • The interviewer is hostile, tricking you into
       defense rather than the delivery of a positive

   • Remain calm, ignore the attack, pause and
       bridge to your message.

   • ―I think we may be getting off track here…‖
       The Too Friendly Interview

  • The interviewer lulls you into false friendliness and
    overconfidence so you will unintentionally reveal
    information off message.

  • Stay on message, reacting warmly but aware that
    an interview can turn hostile at any time.

  • ―The important thing to remember is…‖
                The Personalizer

   • The interviewer relates your responses to personal
       feelings, using your hesitation to lead you away from
       the message.

   • Before the interview, decide how to handle a personal
       question, using language in concert with the official

   • ―What is important to our listeners is that…‖
                     The Void
  • The interviewer is silent after you answer, creating
    an awkward void so you will speak off message or
    say more than you should.

  • Feel confident you have answered the question
    completely and remain silent.

  • Say nothing… or bridge to a positive message.
              The Hypothesizer
   • The interviewer draws you into speculation about
       possibilities, then takes it out of context and puts
       you at odds with your message.

   • Tell the reporter it is inappropriate to speculate and
       bridge to a positive message.

       ―It would be inappropriate for me to speculate,
Interview Points to Remember

• Be Aware and be prepared!
• Stay on message, no matter what!
• Remember, you are the expert!
             Risk Communications
               Training Summary
You are the radiation subject matter expert!
You may be the first – or the only – voice
the public hears.
  •   Review your key messages.
  •   Organize your thoughts.
  •   Create your agenda.
  •   Focus.
  •   Rehearse.
  •   Relax!

      Don’t argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel
                    or videotape by the case!

• Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication. CDC.
  October 2002. Available at:

• Communicating Radiation Risks. Crisis
  Communications for Emergency Responders. EPA-
  402-F-07-008. September 2007. Available at:

• CDC STARCC Principle:
                    References (cont.)

• 77 Questions Commonly Asked by Journalists During an
  Emergency or Crisis (Vincent Covello). Available at:

• Crisis + Risk Communications—By Leaders For Leaders.
  Available at:

• Message Mapping (Vincent Covello). Available at:

• Mental Noise Theory (definition). Available at: