EPR-Public CommunicationsL-011 Good Practices for PIOs
Objective • To review good practices to improveeffectiveness of communications before, during and after an emergency; • How to applythese practices in planning communication for a radiological or nuclearemergency.
Outline • Review: Good communications practices; • Putting practices into action.
Review: Good communications practices • Give people things they can do; • Don’t delay in communicating about risk; • Provide as much relevant information, as soon as possible; it can be updated. • If information needs to be changed as the emergency evolves, clearly explain why to avoid loss of credibility and trust; • Initial perceptions will “frame” the risk in the public’s mind; • Once the risk has been framed it will be difficult to shift this perception.
Review: Good communications practices • Communicate clearly about who is at risk and who is not; • Plan how to deal with increased anxiety; • Consider the perspective of the audience in developing information and messages to be communicated; • Consider pre-existing knowledge and language skills; • Use plain language in explaining scientific and technical information.
Review: Good communications practices • Prepare as much information in advance as possible; • Anticipate likely questions and prepare answers in advance.
Review: Good communications practices • Identify effective communications channels in advance; • Consider the risks and benefits of both controlled and uncontrolled channels.
Review: Good communications practices • Use the internet to its full advantage; • Plan for high use demands of an emergency —bandwidth and low graphic versions; • Listserv for users to sign up for updates; • Enhanced media relations; • Monitor the Internet for misinformation and rumours; • Mobile phones have made it possible to broadcast text messages with emergency information.
Review: Learning from past practices IAEA Public Communications during the response to TEPCO’s Fukushima-Daiichi NPP accident • Insufficient bandwidth to meet demand • Caused long delays in web site response; • Site required 45 times more bandwidth than normal; • Limited web site access • For first three weeks, web site access was often not possible, led to public criticism of IAEA; • Use of Facebook • To overcome initial black-out period, all emergency content was posted on Facebook, which remained visible without loss through the emergency period;
Putting practices into action • Plan for possible types of emergencies; • Identify which nuclear technology and radiation sources are in use; • Are these sources fixed or mobile?
Putting practices into action IAEA Threat Categories I—facilities, such as nuclear power plants, which could give rise to severe deterministic health effects; II—facilities, such as research reactors, which could give rise to significant off-site doses; III—facilities, such as industrial irradiation facilities, which could give rise to significant on-site doses; IV—activities that could warrant urgent protective actions in an unforeseeable location; V—activities, not normally involving radiation, which could be contaminated as a result of events at a category I or II facility.
Putting practices into action What will need to be communicated and to whom: • Technology; • Isotopes; • Possible protective actions; • Duration; • Affected audience; • Warning • Give people something they can do.
Putting practices into action How to plan for this communication: • Duration of response; • Expected public information activities; • Facilities and number of staff required; • Supporting services; • Developing a roster and assigning staff; • Training required; • Shifts required.
Putting practices into action • Working through these elements will help you create a practical response plan for public information during an emergency; • This plan can be further refined by considering other scenarios, particularly those involving mobile sources of radiation, as these can occur anywhere.
Putting practices into action • Prepare standardized templates in advance: • “Holding Statements”; • Press releases; • Media advisories; • Fact sheets on radioisotopes or facilities where a radiation emergency could occur.
Sample holding statement Sample Holding Statement (For use before specific information is available): Date: [date of issue] [News Release Number] Time: [time of issue] [Organization name] confirms that it has received a report of [nature of event]. According to the information received at this time, the [event] occurred at [time and location]. Reports indicate that [any confirmed information on the event] and that [any initial measures] measures are being taken to protect [the public, responders, products, trade, or specify as appropriate]. The [specify plan as appropriate] emergency plan has now been activated [and we have activated our public information centre]. [Organization name] is coordinating its activities with responders now at the scene and other involved agencies [specify as appropriate]. We will be providing further information as soon as it becomes available. [Provide details on timing of any updates or briefings]. The next [briefing/update] will take place at [location and/or time]. ——————— For further information: Name [name of contact for the media]: Title [title of media contact]: Organization: Telephone: Mobile: Email: Website:
Putting practices into action • Train staff who could be involved in communicating during an emergency: • Response structure to be used and reporting up; • Plans, procedures and checklists; • Approval procedures; • Radiation protection and emergency measures. • Practice regularly by participating in emergency simulation exercises and drills.
Opportunities to engage the media • Find opportunities to engage the media through proactive media relations activities: • Emergency simulation exercises; • Training opportunities for journalists and editors; • Establish regular contact with key media; • Build positive relations with all media by responding in a timely fashion to their requests for information or interviews.
Putting practices into action • Develop a communications plan for the recovery phase; • Communications must take into account the scale of the impact of remediation measures on different communities; • Need to communicate any decontamination measures ongoing or planned; • Communicate about any risks, pathways, countermeasures, dose estimates, monitoring programs, food restrictions and effectiveness of clean up measures; • When permitting people to return, any remaining contamination and risks will need to be communicated clearly; • Consider involving those affected in remediation decisions.
A final thought Remember: you will communicate better with people if you can think as they are thinking.