6 Tips to Consider in Crafting Disaster Communication Materials

Don't tell people to prepare, tell them to "prevent."

by Eric Holdeman / October 14, 2016

Debbie Moller of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management sent me the information below. Agree or disagree with it, but know this: What we are doing now doesn't seem to be working.

Research Findings to Consider in Crafting Communication Materials

1. Trying to prove something that someone believes is false may simply harden their beliefs. www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/

2. Prevention is an easier sell than preparation. Use cognitive dissonance — if people take even one action, it will support them taking another one. See Peter Sandman's (my favorite risk communications person in the whole wide world) risk communication website: www.psandman.com

3. Preventing future losses is more compelling than preparation. Focusing on the benefit of preparedness after the earthquake is more compelling (the quality of our lives after Cascadia comes will be determined by what we do now) People care about: peace of mind, control, survival and protecting their family)
https://preserve.lehigh.edu. See: Community Identity and Actionable Risk Communication: A Theoretical Framework for Motivating Flood Preparedness by Rachel Hogan Carr and: www.start.umd.edu/sites/default/files/files/publications/UnderstandingRiskCommunicationTheory.pdf

4. Simplify messages as much as possible. Let them see actual products and kits. Have group members share actions with each other. Have them see other people doing what you would like them to do. www.inc.com/larry-kim/the-6-scientific-principles-behind-influence-and-persuasion.html

5. Have them write down what they intend to do. www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/dominican-research-cited-in-forbes-article

6. Different groups/cultures respond to different messages. For a summary model of cultural factors that you may want to consider, see the work of Geert Hofstede/Edward Hall: 
www.ctp.bilkent.edu.tr/~aydogmus/Hofstede_Hall.pdf and www.scholarworks.gvsu.edu, and see: Geert Hofstede — Dimensionalizing Culture — The Hofstede Model in Context

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