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Early Outreach

If you want the public to be receptive to your risk communication messages, you need to establish trust and credibility, and the best time to establish trust and credibility is before a crisis even occurs. Involve the community at the earliest possible stage of emergency preparedness:

  • Build relationships with community organizations. Look for opportunities to partner with community-based and faith-based organizations and human services agencies that can help disseminate information during a crisis and also provide input on community needs and concerns.
  • Seek input from the public about decisions that will affect them. Have informal conversations with community leaders, conversation cafes at local coffee shops, online surveys, or public engagement meetings.
  • Maintain visibility in the community so that the public will become familiar with your organization and regard it as a credible source.
  • Start early with risk communications. Prior knowledge about potential crisis situations can temper some of the outrage factors during an event, so begin communicating about risks at an early stage. For example, gradually educating people about the potential for a bioterrorist attack—through school programs, community meetings, and community drills—can establish some familiarity with that possibility in advance.