Stakeholder and societal tolerance of risk has rapidly diminished. Reputation damage can quickly follow when communities, politicians, interest groups or society at large are ‘outraged’ by a perceived new or recurring risk that they believe is being imposed upon them by an organisation or sector.
Issues from shale gas extraction to GM foods, nuclear decommissioning to mobile phone mast placement all require careful communication to people and groups who perceive – rightly or wrongly – that they are being exposed to a risk. Risk communication happens on a smaller scale too; asbestos discoveries and industrial emissions for example.
Risk communication is a specialist discipline in which Regester Larkin by Deloitte has much experience. The basic premises of risk communication are that perceived risk is as important as real risk and that perceptions of risk are emotional rather than rational. Risk communication strategies target perceived risks attached to an issue or situation and aims to restore rationality by addressing emotional responses.
Many of the issues that we support organisations with involve an aspect of communicating risk. We understand the dynamics of risk, have a deep knowledge of how stakeholders such as activist groups and politicians work, and we know how to develop narratives that explain even the most complex technical and scientific information to a sceptical and concerned audience.