Risk Communicator Training for Food Defense Preparedness, Response & Recovery

This training focuses on the concepts and skills necessary for effective risk communication implementation before, during and following an intentional attack on the food system. The training has been designed to be presented in 10 instructional hours or two full days.  A suggested program schedule is included at the end of this overview. The curriculum may be adapted, abridged or expanded depending on the needs of the learners.

Download a copy of this page, including the suggested schedule.

Training Components

  • TRAINING OVERVIEW & INTRODUCTIONS
  • MODULE 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO RISK COMMUNICATION
  • MODULE 2: FOOD DEFENSE & THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM
  • MODULE 3: MESSAGE DEVELOPMENT & DELIVERY
  • MODULE 4: RISK COMMUNICATION PREPAREDNESS & PLANNING
  • MODULE 5: MEDIA RELATIONS & PRACTICE

TRAINING OVERVIEW & INTRODUCTIONS (30 minutes)

The training begins with a brief overview of the Risk Communication Project at the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD).  Optional get-acquianted activities are provided to assess the participants' expectations and background in risk communicaton and food defense.

Training Materials

Handouts

MODULE 1:  AN INTRODUCTION TO RISK COMMUNICATION (1.5 hours)

Everything we do involves risk…  In Module 1 we will examine how audience perception of risk drives how we conduct risk communication before, during and after a crisis.  We will consider the unique features that distinguish risk communication from other communication approaches.  We will introduce the view that “risk communicators” exist throughout an organization involving both formal and informal interaction with employees, networks, customers and community. 

Module 1 Overview

TOPIC 1:  Defining Risk Communication:  What It Is & What It Isn’t
TOPIC 2:  Risk Perception: Facts & Feelings
TOPIC 3:  We’re all Risk Communicators:  It Is Your Job!

Module 1 Learner Outcomes

  • Apply the risk communication goals to a foodborne outbreak. (Topic 1)
  • Describe the function of risk communication within the risk management model. (Topic 1)
  • Identify the factors that drive perceptions of risk. (Topic 2)
  • Compare and contrast communicator roles from various segments of the food system. (Topic 3)

Best Practice Introduced in Module 1

  • Risk and crisis communication is an ongoing process

Training Materials

Handouts

  • Download the Hazard Outrage Worksheet
  • Download the Best Practices for Risk Communication
  • Download 'Unpacking Message'

MODULE 2:  FOOD DEFENSE & THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM (1.0 hours)

We all eat and as Americans we have come to depend on a safe and accessible food supply. In Module 2 we will examine the realities of our complex and highly inter-related food system that make it vulnerable to attack.  We will begin by examining the nature of fear as a normal response that provides useful ways of coping with a high risk event.  We will discuss how sound risk communication practices can serve to prevent or mitigate the impact of a catastrophic foodborne outbreak on human health, psychological well-being and the economy. We will identify the specific challenges associated with risk and crisis communication in the context of an intentional contamination of the food supply.

Module 2 Overview

TOPIC 1:  Psychology of Fear and Trust
TOPIC 2:  The Food System as a Potential Target of Attack
TOPIC 3:  Natural Disasters, Terrorism, Catastrophic Events

Module 2 Learner Outcomes

  • Compare and contrast fear and trust as adaptive survival processes. (Topic 1)
  • Describe the positive and negative consequences of fear, denial and panic as adaptive responses to heightened risk. (Topic 1)
  • Identify the factors that make the food system vulnerable to intentional attack. (Topic 2)
  • Describe the psychological consequences of natural disasters and terrorism within the context of fear and trust. (Topic 3)
  • Compare and contrast characteristics of a natural or “traditional” disaster and an intentional terrorist attack. (Topic 3)

Best Practices Introduced in Module 2

  • Listen to public’s concerns and understand audience

Training Materials

MODULE 3:  MESSAGE DEVELOPMENT & DELIVERY (2.5 hours)

Successful message development and delivery is central to effective risk communication. In Module 3 we introduce the key components of crisis and risk communication messages that reflect how individuals process information during high stress situations. We will discuss the impact of metamessages, validating the emotional response, as an effective communication strategy in high stress situations.  We will analyze messages taken from recent food safety and defense incidents by applying principles and concepts discussed in earlier modules. Using message development tools and templates, we will craft risk communication messages addressing food-related crises.

Module 3 Overview

TOPIC 1:  Communicating in High Stress Situations
TOPIC 2:  Message Mapping & Practice
TOPIC 3:  Developing Risk Communication Messages

Learner Outcomes for Module 3

  • Describe how a traditional communication model changes in a high stress situation. (Topic 1)
  • Describe the factors that influence the public’s trust in spokesperson during high stress situations. (Topic 1)
  • List anticipated audience questions that may be raised during a foodborne outbreak. (Topic 2)
  • Complete a message map that addresses a foodborne outbreak scenario. (Topic 2)
  • Identify the main components of an emergency risk communication message. (Topic 3)
  • Define metamessaging and describe how this strategy fosters trust and credibility. (Topic 3)
  • Craft risk communication messages that include the key components: information, self-efficacy statements, and metamessages. (Topic 3)

Best Practices Introduced in Module 3

  • Communicate with compassion, concern and empathy
  • Demonstrate honesty, candor and openness
  • Accept uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Provide messages that foster self-efficacy

Training Materials

Handouts

  • Download the Unpacking Message Worksheet
  • Download the Message Map Template
  • Download the Message Development Template (BLANK)
  • Download the Message Development Template (ANNOTATED)
  • Download 'Unpacking Message'

MODULE 4:  RISK COMMUNICATION PREPAREDNESS & PLANNING (2.5 hours)

The success of effective risk communication response is dependent on an organization’s preparedness infrastructure that has been thoughtfully and collaboratively developed before the crisis event. In Module 4 we introduce a risk communication planning framework to begin building assets that will lead to an effective response to a food-related crisis.  We will review the role of key audiences, publics, partners and stakeholders, who should be actively involved in the planning process as well as the emergency response. We will conclude this module by reviewing key concepts and skills presented in this training and applying them to communication strategies implemented during the critical first 48 hours of crisis.

Module 4 Overview

TOPIC 1:  Preparedness Begins with Pre-crisis Planning 20 minutes
TOPIC 2:  Risk Communication Team: Roles, Responsibilities and Response 20 minutes
TOPIC 3:  Key Audiences: Publics, Partners and Stakeholders 20 minutes
TOPIC 4:  Crisis Communication: The First 48 hours 20 minutes

Module 4 Learner Outcomes

  • Outline the main components of a risk communication plan. (Topic 1)
  • Begin an organizational audit to assess rapid response capabilities of your organization in a foodborne outbreak. (Topic 1)
  • Describe the individual roles and responsibilities of each risk communication team member to meet the crisis communication goals of the organization. (Topic 2)
  • Develop strategies to expand external networks and build partnerships with key audiences. (Topic 3)
  • Describe strategies and resources needed to “be first, be right, and be credible” during the first 48 hours of a foodborne outbreak. (Topic 4)

Best Practices Introduced in Module 4

  • Conduct pre-event planning and preparedness activities
  • Foster partnerships with public
  • Collaborate and coordinate with credible sources

Training Materials

Handouts

MODULE 5:  MEDIA RELATIONS & PRACTICE (2.5 hours)

Media coverage provides the fastest and widest distribution of your risk communication message during a crisis. In Module 5 we will address the role of crisis coverage from the perspective of the journalist. We will examine how media coverage changes throughout the four stages of the crisis.  We will introduce techniques that will increase the effectiveness of getting your key messages across.  To provide an opportunity to apply the concepts and skills introduced in the Risk Communicator Training, we will conduct mock media interviews addressing a scenario involving an attack on the food system.

Overview

TOPIC 1:  Media Coverage During a Crisis
TOPIC 2:  Preparing for the Interview: Intelligence Gathering
TOPIC 3:  Techniques for Effective Interviews
TOPIC 4:  Media Practice: Delivering Your Message

Module 5 Learner Outcomes

  • Describe how media practices change when covering a crisis or emergency event. (Topic 1)
  • Develop a strategy for relationship-building with the media as part of pre-crisis communication plan. (Topic 1)
  • Know what questions to ask when responding to a media request. (Topic 2)
  • Demonstrate how to prepare for an interview. (Topic 2)
  • Apply techniques and strategies that will maximize message effectiveness. (Topic 3)
  • Describe factors that will detract from the effectiveness of a media interview. (Topic 3)
  • Demonstrate ability to deliver well crafted messages in a media interview setting. (Topic 4)

Best Practices Introduced in Module 5

  • Meet the needs of media and remain accessible

Training Materials