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Keep Them Coming Back

Imagine that you’ve done your risk communication well at the outset of a disaster. You’ve communicated quickly and established your credibility. But your job is far from over. The public expects a continuous flow of information, providing plenty of opportunity for less credible sources to fill the information vacuum.

Keep feeding information on a frequent basis to make sure your messages aren’t drowned out, to demonstrate that you are following the situation, and to give the public a reason to come back to you as a credible source. Even if there is not much new information available, find useful background information or fresh ways to repackage existing information. Can you provide new angles, interesting historical precedents, or new third-party sources?

As an example, in March of 2011, coverage of the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan was all over the news. While the event did not pose a health risk to the Pacific Northwest, there were high levels of concern. As images of new explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant unfolded on TV and the web, the demand grew for new information about the health risk. Although there was very little new information to report, King County, Washington, established a blog devoted to information about the situation and posted to it several times a day.

Read the following excerpt, from the King County News blog, is designed to communicate effectively with the public. Select a highlighted Explanation icon to find out how each area illustrates an example of communicating effectively with the public.

Response to the crisis in Japan

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The earthquake and tsunami have caused unprecedented devastation to our neighbors across the pacific. Our thoughts remain with the Japanese people, and we have also been monitoring the unfolding events at the Japanese nuclear reactors.

Experts at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Washington Department of Health do not expect significant levels of radioactivity in our state or any health risk from the situation in Japan. Even in the event of a significant release from the reactor, radiation should be diluted by winds and distance before reaching our state. As a precaution, federal and state agencies will continue to monitor radiation levels in the air and rain water.

Learn more in our FAQs, updates here and on Twitter.

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Update: 10 a.m., March 28
Your first move when the earth shakes: Drop, Cover, and Hold

With images of Japan’s devastating earthquake fresh on our minds, so is another round of Internet misinformation about what should be your first move during an earthquake.

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The King County Office of Emergency Management wants you to know that “Drop, Cover, and Hold” is the best method to protect yourself during an earthquake in the United States, especially in our own quake-prone region.

  • DROP to the floor
  • Take COVER under a sturdy table, desk, or chair
  • HOLD in place until the shaking stops
Update: March 23
Questions and answers about radiation in Japan and food safety

Does the situation with the nuclear reactors in Japan pose a risk to food in the United States?

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that there is no risk to the food supply in the U.S., based on current information. FDA is closely monitoring the situation in Japan and is working with the Japanese government and other U.S. agencies to continue to ensure that imported food remains safe.

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Additional Radiation Information
  • Questions? 1-800-222-1222
  • King County FAQ’s
  • Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
  • WA DOH: FAQ’s
  • Hazards and disasters
Related King County news
  • King County monitoring situation in Japan, (March 11)
  • King County employees offer help to neighbors across the Pacific , (March 15)