Communicating risk using:

Controversy and equivocation

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Sensitive topics require nuanced communication. At RSI, we navigate these delicate subjects with a balanced approach, addressing potential concerns while also highlighting areas of consensus and potential growth. This ensures that even in controversial terrains, our risk communication remains both informative and strategically insightful.

Navigating the precarious waters of controversy and equivocation demands a highly nuanced approach to risk communication. RSI employs a multifaceted strategy, deeply rooted in understanding the nature of the controversy, the dynamics of public sentiment, and the intricacies of the client’s position or product. The overarching aim is to manage perception, maintain stakeholder trust, and position the client as a credible source of information, all while being transparent and ethically sound.

The first step involves mapping the landscape of the controversy to understand its scope, implications, and key actors. Stakeholder analysis helps RSI and the client identify which groups have vested interests, what their perspectives are, and how they could influence the situation. This serves as a basis for crafting targeted communication strategies.

In situations of equivocation where there is ambiguity or uncertainty, RSI works on clarifying the issues at hand. This may involve summarizing the state of scientific evidence, acknowledging the limits of current understanding, and explaining any regulatory or ethical considerations.

RSI collaborates with the client to develop core messages that address the controversy without escalating it. The messages aim to be transparent, fact-based, and balanced, providing a nuanced view that respects the complexity of the situation. The tone is often empathetic, acknowledging public concerns and the legitimacy of different viewpoints, where applicable.

Before releasing any communication, RSI may engage in pre-testing the messaging with a small, representative audience to gauge reactions and adjust as necessary. Sensitivity checks help ensure that the messaging does not inadvertently inflame the controversy or alienate critical stakeholders.

Choosing the right channels and spokespeople for delivering the message is crucial. RSI advises on which platforms (traditional media, social media, community forums, etc.) are most appropriate and who within the organization or external experts could best serve as the messenger.

Once the preparation is complete, the messages are disseminated through the chosen channels. This is not a “one and done” situation; RSI advocates for active engagement with stakeholders. This can include Q&A sessions, town halls, or even mediated debates, depending on the nature of the controversy and the client’s comfort level with direct engagement.

Real-time monitoring tools are used to track public sentiment, media coverage, and stakeholder reactions. This feedback loop allows RSI and the client to adapt their messaging and strategy as the situation evolves.

After a suitable period, RSI helps evaluate the effectiveness of the communication strategy in managing the controversy and mitigating risks. Lessons learned are integrated into ongoing risk communication efforts and future strategies for addressing similar situations.

In summary, by adopting this nuanced and adaptive approach, RSI assists its clients in managing the risks associated with controversy and equivocation. This allows organizations to maintain or restore credibility, foster open dialogue, and arrive at constructive solutions, all while negotiating the complexities that come with controversial topics.

Understanding, managing, and communicating risk