The "crisis and risk communication model" by Reynolds & Seeger


Barbara Reynolds and Matthew Seeger have argued that crisis (according to them, disasters are a form of crisis) and risk communication should be integrated in a common model. They start from the assumption that risk communication is proactive (aiming to change behaviour), while crisis/disaster communication is reactive (aiming to help people after the crisis has emerged). They argue that crisis/disaster communication should be divided into the three familiar stages: preparedness, mitigation and recovery. During the pre-crisis period, communication should attempt to instil safe behaviour and disaster preparedness. According to Reynolds and Seeger, during the crisis/disaster, the goal of communication should be twofold: communication addressed to victims or potential victims should help mitigate or contain harm, while that addressed to the wider audience should reduce the uncertainty, allowing audiences to create a basic understanding of what happened so that they may act appropriately. Finally, the authors describe the post-crisis/disaster stage as “a period of post-mortem, assessment, learning, and constitution of new understandings of risk and risk avoidance” (Reynolds and Seeger, 2005). In the end, the two authors suggest a model defined according to five stages: In the first, the pre-crisis stage, messages should aim at monitoring emerging risks and creating an understanding and preparation for the risk by the general public. During the second stage, the initial event one, communication to the general public should aim to establish empathy, reassurance, and to make the designated crisis-response agency well-known to the public. The third stage aims to reach goals such as correcting rumours or establishing Broad-based support and cooperation with response and recovery efforts. The authors call the final stages ‘resolution’ and ‘evaluation’ and argue that they should be concerned with informing people about the ongoing clean-up, remediation, recovery, to “facilitate broad-based, honest, and open discussion and resolution of issues regarding cause, blame, responsibility, and adequacy of response” and eventually to “document, formalize, and communicate lessons learned and rebuilding efforts (Reynolds and Seeger, 2005).

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