The XXXI Olympic Games in Brazil in 2016 set the stage for a risk communication challenge that extended over multiple fronts.

The culprit: mosquitoes spreading the Zika virus.

At the time, Brazil was going through a recession and experiencing high unemployment. The country had also spent heavily on infrastructure for the upcoming Olympics.

So with Zika causing concerns among citizens, athletes, and visitors, billions of dollars were at stake.

Dr. Vincent Covello and his colleagues were called in to address communications on three fronts: (1) ensuring safety, (2) engaging with Brazilian citizens, and (3) engaging with Olympic athletes and visitors.

The strategies and techniques Dr. Covello and his team employed form the basis of the case study that opens chapter eleven of Dr. Covello’s most recent release, Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice.

Our previous post previewed the tenth chapter of Dr. Covello’s must-have resource for risk communicators. Below we’ll look into the eleventh chapter, “Evaluating Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communications.”

What You Find Within

The following are the topics covered in Dr. Covello’s book. In the section that follows, we’ll look more in depth at the eleventh chapter.

  • The Critical Role of Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communication
  • Core Concepts
  • An Overview of Risk Communication
  • Development of Risk Communication Theory and Practice
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Empowerment
  • Communicating in a Crisis
  • Foundational Principles: Perceptions, Biases, and Information Filters
  • Foundational Principles: Trust, Culture, and Worldviews
  • Best Practices for Message Development in High Concern Situations
  • Communicating Numbers, Statistics, and Technical Information about a Risk or Threat
  • Evaluating Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communications
  • Communicating with Mainstream News Media
  • Social Media and the Changing Landscape for Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communication

A Peek Inside Chapter 11: “Evaluating Risk, High Concern, and Crisis Communications”

In this chapter, readers find the principles and approaches for evaluating and assessing messages, messengers and delivery channels. The chapter covers

  • The role and value of evaluation in all phases of communication
  • Challenges of effective communication
  • Helpful tips for evaluating risk, high-concern and crisis communications
  • Evaluation tools

As with each chapter, Dr. Covello concludes with an extensive list of resources ideal for further exploration.

In the next entry in this series, we’ll preview the twelfth chapter, which focuses on a topic of much interest to many readers: communicating with mainstream news media.

Pathway Prompt: Do you dedicate efforts to the evaluation of your risk communications? What has been the result?

Communicating Effectively When Feelings, Fears, and Facts Collide

More information about risk, high-concern, and crisis communication can be found in Dr. Covello’s video-based course Pathway to Risk, High-Concern, and Crisis Communication.

This master class introduces communicators to the tools and techniques for communicating effectively—while providing greater insight into why audiences react the way they do during times of stress.

The course comprises nine video lectures and accompanying text modules, plus supplemental materials for putting valuable lessons into practice. More information about the course, including group rates and partnering opportunities, can be found by emailing

Dr. Vincent Covello

Dr. Vincent Covello, director of the Center for Risk Communication, is one of the world’s leading experts and practitioners on risk, high-concern, and crisis communication. He is the author of more than 150 articles in scientific journals and the author/editor of more than 20 books.

Covello, Vincent T. Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2022.