A mysterious green ooze was leaking through basement cracks in scattered locations. On one side, the government’s perplexed environmental investigators. On the other, angry homeowners.

The approach Dr. Vincent Covello took after being called in to help with the above situation is explored in the case study that opens chapter three of Dr. Covello’s most recent release, Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations: Evidence-Based Strategies and Practice.

As readers will learn, Dr. Covello’s method for uncovering the surprising culprit behind the ooze involved stakeholder engagement, the principles of risk communication, active listening, constructive dialogue, and even a dash of Sherlock Holmes.

In our last post, we previewed the second chapter in Dr. Covello’s must-have resource for risk communicators. Below, we’ll look into the third chapter, “An Overview of Risk Communication.”

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 third 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 3: “An Overview of Risk Communication”

This chapter helps readers to

  • identify situations that require risk communication
  • understand that risk perception is a social construct
  • learn how to help people understand and evaluate risk information
  • connect risk communication principles with trust, transparency, cooperation, dialogue, and respect
  • demonstrate understanding of risk communication as good practice

Throughout the chapter, Dr. Covello explores the challenges of risk communication and the changes in how the brain processes information in times of high stress. He expands on risk communication theory and explores principles and guidelines.

In addition to the gripping case study that opens the chapter, Dr. Covello closes the chapter with an extensive list of resources. Based on early response, bookending each chapter with case studies and resources has proved particularly useful for readers.

In the next entry in this series, we’ll preview the fourth chapter, which details the development of risk communication theory and practice.

Pathway Prompt: What is the most unusual risk communication case you’ve experienced? Did it require a unique approach?

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 info@pathwaycommunication.com.

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.