Applied Risk Communication for the 21st Century

March 26 – 28, 2018

  • $2,275
Dr. Viswanath has done a masterful job of putting together a top-notch risk communications program that offers practical, solid content that all types of risk communicators can use.
  • —R. Kelly Schwalbe

Program Overview

Every day, information is generated and made available to the public about the risks and benefits of public policies, new products, and corporate behavior. People are accessing this information in real time via traditional news, online media, and word of mouth. The public’s near-instant access to this unfiltered information presents significant new risks, including reputation damage for companies who cause health or environmental damage, or ineffective policy outcomes when health-related guidance is misunderstood or ignored.

This applied program will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to design effective risk communication messages that improve communication outcomes, increase trust in your organization, reduce public anxiety, and help key stakeholders make better decisions.

Participants in this course will explore:

  • The psychosocial and societal determinants of risk communication through the scientific and systematic overview of risk communication literature
  • Strategic communication of risk information including audience segmentation, designing messaging, and executing risk communications
  • Message construction formats for the communication of risk, including fear, narratives, exemplars
  • Statistical principles to understand how risk information is generated
  • Behavioral economics and their role in communicating risk
  • Evaluation of the impact of risk communication with an introduction to major methods such as focus groups, nominal group techniques, surveys, and experiments

The Value of Risk Communication

During non-crisis periods, ineffective risk communication can result in low-impact, wasted resources, and other undesirable outcomes. During times of crisis, on the other hand, messaging can be lost in the noise, resulting in unintended consequences, rejected messages, or public fear and confusion. When deployed effectively, risk communication is an invaluable tool for engendering trust, protecting organizational value, and helping the public make informed decisions.

For-profit companies can benefit from risk communication by ensuring that their customers, potential customers, and members of the public have the information they need to properly evaluate the health impact of their products and operations. By keeping the public informed about potential risks, corporations can reduce harm to consumers and protect themselves from reputational damage stemming from human or environmental harm.

Public and non-governmental organizations can use risk communication to protect public health by educating their constituents about health, environmental, and societal risks. Effective communication also increases transparency and credibility, generating trust in the organization. As the public becomes more educated, they will be able to make more informed decisions about their health and well-being.

Regardless of organizational setting, risk communication is an effective tool your organization needs to inform stakeholders, help them make decisions, and protect their health.

Objectives & Highlights

When a risk to the public’s health arises, all involved organizations must provide information about the risk and guidance on the most appropriate response. Effective communication eases public anxiety and minimizes the possibility of poor outcomes associated with uninformed decision making.

This program addresses these issues by providing a practical, hands-on approach to risk communication which increases message design and delivery effectiveness.

  • Develop a state of the science understanding of the individual, psychological, interpersonal, and societal factors that influence the
    • Generation and communication of risk information during crisis and non-crisis periods
    • Impact of risk communications on public’s risk perceptions, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, including compliance
  • Apply this knowledge to designing effective risk communication messages drawing on the science of strategic communication and health communication
  • Become familiar with and practice methods for evaluating risk communication efforts

Curriculum

Major topics to be covered in the course will include:

  • The psychosocial and societal determinants of risk communication through the scientific and systematic overview of risk communication literature
  • Strategic communication of risk information including audience segmentation, designing messaging, and executing risk communications
  • Message construction formats for the communication of risk, including fear, narratives, and exemplars
  • Statistical principles to understand how risk information is generated
  • Behavioral economics and their role in communicating risk
  • Evaluation of the impact of risk communication with an introduction to major methods such as focus groups, nominal group techniques, surveys, and experiments

Credits, Fees, and Logistics

Please note: a laptop or other portable personal computing device is strongly recommended for course enrollees.

Accommodations

A limited number of hotel rooms will be reserved at a discounted rate. Please return to this page for updated reservation and rate information.

Program Check-in

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
FXB Building
651 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
617.432.2100

The program takes place at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, located in the heart of the Harvard Longwood Campus in Boston. Public transportation is also readily available to the city’s many shopping districts, museums, and restaurants.

For directions, please click here.

Continuing Education Credit

This program is accredited by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and offers 1.5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)*, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, equivalent to 15 contact hours of education.

*Participants can apply these contact hours toward other professional education credits. Some of which include CSP, CHMM, NRRPT, etc.

ABIH has previously awarded CM credit for this program. The current program can be claimed for CM credits.

All credit counts are subject to final agenda.

What is Included in the Fee?

  • Continental breakfasts, lunches, and refreshment breaks
  • Comprehensive web-based reference materials
  • Continuing education credits
  • Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health certificate of participation

Who Should Participate

Professionals responsible for communicating about risk from private industry, the non-profit sector, and from governments around the world will benefit from attending. Participants with the following job functions are encouraged to attend:

  • Communications, public relations, and public affairs
  • Emergency preparedness and management
  • Government relations and regulatory affairs
  • Health policy and research
  • Occupational and environmental health
  • Public health, health promotion, and health education
  • Risk analysis and management

The convening power of Harvard is unmatched. One of the major benefits of this course is the opportunity to interact and network with professionals from a wide variety of organizations and countries. Long after the program has concluded, participants continue to network as they face challenges that cross national boundaries and require multifaceted and coordinated communications from the private sector, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.