2014

  • Tamiflu report comes under fire

    by Declan Butler

    Posted on the Nature website, April 22, 2014; published in the print edition of Nature, vol. 508, pp. 439–440 (April 24, 2014).

  • Overstated Attack Hiding Behind Scientific Assessment: An April 2014 Cochrane Review Trashes the Usefulness of Influenza Antiviral Drugs

    by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard

    Email to Declan Butler, April 15, 2014

    In early April 2014, BMJ (British Medical Journal) published two articles reporting a research review by the Cochrane Collaboration, arguing that antiviral drugs are of minimal use against influenza. When reporter Declan Butler of Nature emailed me and my wife and colleague Jody Lanard asking for comment on how the Cochrane Review was communicated, we quickly sent back a response summarizing two key criticisms of the Cochrane researchers: that they ignored the downsides of the Cochrane methodology, which considers only randomized controlled trials; and that they massaged and cherry-picked their own results to make them look worse for antivirals. Declan’s article addressed many aspects of this complicated story, and he had room for only a little of what we had sent him. Meanwhile, we had written a more comprehensive assessment, which we are posting on this website as an introduction to what we originally sent Declan.

    The Nature article is located off this site.
    The email to Declan Butler is located on this site.

    This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

  • Retailers Are Finding That Data Vulnerability Can Undo Years of Brand Equity: How to bolster defenses and clean up the PR mess

    by David Gianatasio

    Posted on the website of Adweek, March 23, 2014

  • Data Breaches: Managing Reputational Impact

    by Peter M. Sandman

    Email to David Gianatasio, March 4, 2014 (with two March 16 emails interpolated)

    David Gianatasio of Adweek emailed me in mid-February 2014 about an article he was writing on “how data breaches and security concerns might impact brands such as Target” (which had announced a huge data breach two months earlier) and “how companies can handle the fallout.” In the weeks that followed, Dave sent me more specific questions. My answers stressed the importance of addressing the concerns of affected stakeholders as opposed to the general public; and of focusing on negative reputation as opposed to positive reputation. The reputational impact of a data breach, I argued, depends mostly on two factors: how competently a company was protecting customer data before the breach, and how empathically it responded after the breach. Very little in my answers is unique to data breaches. Similar advice can be found, for example, in “After the Disaster: Communicating with the Public,” my response to a different journalist’s questions about an April 17, 2013 explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas. Dave ended up focusing more on the specifics of the Target breach than on what companies should do about breaches, but he did find room in the last half of his March 23 article for several snippets from my answers.

    The Adweek article is located off this site.
    The email to David Gianatasio is located on this site.

    This article is categorized as:    link to Crisis Communication index link to Outrage Management index

  • H7N9 cases grow by 7, along with China poultry industry outcry

    by Lisa Schnirring

    Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), February 6, 2014

    Forgoing Trust, China’s Poultry Industry Lobbies for an H7N9 Cover-Up

    by Jody Lanard and Peter M. Sandman

    Email to Lisa Schnirring, February 6, 2014

    Lisa Schnirring of CIDRAP News (part of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota) has been writing frequent articles about H7N9 since that novel bird flu virus reappeared in China in late 2013. Among the developments she decided to cover in her February 6, 2014 article was a new lobbying effort by China’s poultry industry to suppress some information about new H7N9 cases, especially information it feared would exacerbate Chinese consumers’ growing avoidance of poultry. When I asked if her article could use a risk communication perspective, Lisa said yes. So my wife and colleague Jody Lanard and I sent her an email, emphasizing that cover-ups never reassure the public. To the contrary, people become much more concerned about a risk when they discover that potentially alarming information is being covered up. Lisa’s article included several quotes from our email elaborating on this point.

    The CIDRAP News article is located off this site.
    The email to Lisa Schnirring is located on this site.

    This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

  • With Chinese New Year H7N9 cases soar, but experts struggle to assess the risk

    by Helen Branswell

    Distributed by The Canadian Press, January 31, 2014

    It’s Hard to Warn People about What H7N9 Might Do Someday without Sounding Over-Alarming about What It’s Doing So Far

    by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard

    Email to Helen Branswell, January 30, 2014

    Helen Branswell of The Canadian Press is almost universally considered the “dean” of flu reporters. So of course she has paid close attention to H7N9, a novel bird flu virus that emerged in China about a year ago. H7N9 is harmless to poultry but often deadly to humans on those rare occasions when it passes from one to the other. On January 30, 2014, Helen sent an email jointly to me and my wife and colleague Jody Lanard, asking us to comment on “the challenge it [H7N9] poses in terms of risks communications.” Our answer focused on the difficulty of warning people about what might happen while reassuring people about what has happened so far. Helen used a few quotes from our answer in her story, along with others from flu experts (as opposed to risk communication experts) she had interviewed.

    The Canadian Press article is located off this site.
    The email to Helen Branswell is located on this site.

    This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

  • 2013

    • Despite near certainty in new UN report, a climate of denial persists
      (Note: Link goes off-site to a page with a link to this 5-min. audio.)

      Interview with Peter M. Sandman by Marco Werman, aired on “The World” on PRI (Public Radio International) and posted on its website, September 27, 2013

      When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its new report – claiming more certainty than ever before that the global warming threat is dire – Marco Werman of PRI’s “The World” interviewed me about why I thought many people might find the report’s conclusions hard to accept, and might go into a kind of psychological denial instead. The interview lasted about ten minutes, but was cut to less than five for airing. I made too many minor points that got used, albeit in abbreviated form. So my main point got almost completely lost – that climate change activists were their own worst enemies because they kept saying things that were likely to provoke or deepen people’s denial instead of things that could help people overcome their denial. For example, I told Marco, too many environmentalists were greeting the IPCC’s bad news triumphantly, almost gleefully – sounding more pleased that they were being proved right than devastated that the world’s in deep trouble. People who like their SUVs and are having a hard time accepting that they may have to give up their SUVs (that’s a kind of denial) may just barely be able to believe it if a fellow SUV fan sadly tells them so. They’re not about to believe it if it’s exultantly announced by someone who has hated the internal combustion engine since before global climate change was even an issue. For several better explanations of my thinking about climate change denial, see any of the other entries with “climate” and/or “denial” in their titles in the “On Environmental Activism” section of my Precaution Advocacy index.

      Link off-site to a page with this 5-min. audio.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Precaution Advocacy index

    • Will Controversial Sports Team Names Be Gone in Five Years?

      by David Gianatasio

      Published in Adweek, September 11, 2013

      Sports Team Names that Offend Native Americans

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to David Gianatasio, September 10, 2013

      On September 10, 2013, David Gianatasio sent me an email, seeking comment for an Adweek story he was writing about “pro sports teams with Native American names.” He cited a new advertising campaign to pressure the Redskins to drop their name, and asked what “teams like the Redskins, Indians, Braves, Blackhawks, etc.” can do, “short of changing their names, to stave off bad PR ” – or whether they should “seriously consider name changes to stave off bad publicity around the subject once and for all.” This is my brief response, some of which he used in his story. (I’ve interpolated one paragraph from an email later that day responding to a follow-up question.)

      The Adweek article is located off this site.
      My email to David Gianatasio is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • Informing Pointe-Claire residents was “a moral obligation”

      by Monique Muise

      Published in the Montreal Gazette, August 28, 2013

      Keeping PCB Contamination Secret Increases the Risk of Public Overreaction

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to Monique Muise, August 28, 2013

      On August 28, 2013, Montreal Gazette reporter Monique Muise emailed me for comment on a PCB controversy in the nearby city of Pointe-Claire. An illegal and potentially dangerous PCB storage facility had gone unnoticed for years until a leak brought it to official attention in March. But officials still hadn’t told the public (or the neighbors) when a local journalist broke the story five months later. Monique wanted me to comment on the pros and cons of the decision to keep the information secret. My email focused on a common risk communication paradox: Officials suppress risk information because they mistrust people’s ability to avoid overreacting; when the information comes out, the secrecy makes people overreact; this convinces officials they were right to suppress the information. Monique used a few quotes from the email in her story, along with some excellent quotes from my Canadian colleague Bill Leiss.

      The Montreal Gazette article is located off this site.
      My email to Monique Muise is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • Is MERS an emergency? Language of IHR boxes WHO into a messaging dilemma

      by Helen Branswell

      Distributed by Canadian Press, July 16, 2013

    • MERS Isn’t an “Emergency” … Yet

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to Helen Branswell, July 16, 2013

      On July 15, 2013, Canadian Press medical reporter Helen Branswell asked for an interview about how the World Health Organization was setting itself up by convening an “Emergency Committee” to decide whether to recommend declaring the MERS coronavirus a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC). With MERS infecting only small numbers of people, nearly all of them in Saudi Arabia, wouldn’t such a declaration invite claims that WHO was once again hyping an infectious disease risk? We scheduled an interview for the morning of the 16th. I sent Helen this email beforehand. In both the email and the interview, I stressed that the word “emergency” implies urgency. But a MERS pandemic isn’t imminent, I said; what WHO really needs to do is alert people that a MERS pandemic (someday) could be horrific. Despite the unfortunate nomenclature – including the awkward pronunciation of the “PHEIC” acronym as “fake” – WHO could do a lot more than it’s doing to clarify the distinction.

      The Canadian Press article is located off this site.
      My email to Helen Branswell is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • After the Disaster: Communicating with the Public

      by Peter M. Sandman (responding to questions from Paul Schrimpf)

      Posted on the CropLife website, July 1, 2013

      The deadly April 17, 2013 explosion at a fertilizer facility in West, Texas was a pretty big story despite being overshadowed by the Boston Marathon bombings two days earlier. On May 17, exactly a month later, Paul Schrimpf of the CropLife Media Group (a chain of agriculture-related trade journals) emailed me four questions about risk communication aspects of the explosion. I sent Paul my answers on May 26, and on July 1 the complete Q&A was posted on the CropLife website. (Excerpts are scheduled to be published in hard copy later in July.) Paul’s questions focused on how much fertilizer retailers and distributors elsewhere should say about the West explosion. Not surprisingly, I thought they should say a lot, using the event as a teachable moment rather than trying to avoid mentioning it. The beginning of my response also addresses questions I think need to be addressed after every industrial accident: Is this an example of egregiously bad risk management and/or risk regulation, or was this facility fairly typical until the accident? And was this an unlikely disaster with few if any policy implications, or was it “an accident waiting to happen” that should lead to new industry practices and new regulatory standards?

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • Whack-a-Mole? Build-a-Reactor? What Game Shall We Play? link is to a PDF file

      by Margaret Harding

      Published in Fuel Cycle Week, June 27, 2013, p. 5.

      Margaret Harding participated with me in a May 31, 2013 podcast entitled “Peter Sandman teaches nuclear communicators.” A few weeks later she wrote this one-page article summarizing some of what I said. The article includes some useful comments about the outrage management challenges facing proponents of nuclear power, but I like it mostly because of its excellent summary of the core principle that people judge risks to be serious because they’re upset, not the other way around.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 53 kB, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • Terrorists vs. Bathtubs
      (Note: Link goes off-site to a page with a link to this 10-min. audio.)

      (Edited) interview with Peter Sandman by Brooke Gladstone, June 20, 2013

      Aired on National Public Radio’s “On the Media” and posted on its website, June 21, 2013

      link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Risk Communication in Practice(Note: Link launches the MP3 audio file on this site: (79.5MB, 49 min.)

      (Complete) interview with Peter Sandman by Brooke Gladstone, June 20, 2013

      Brooke Gladstone of “On the Media” interviewed me in my home for 49 minutes. We started out talking about claims by opponents of NSA telephone and email surveillance (in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks) that “more people have died from [whatever] than from terrorism” – and why these sorts of risk comparisons are unlikely to be convincing. That soon got me to the distinction between hazard and outrage. But Brooke didn’t let me do my usual hazard-versus-outrage introductory shtick. Instead, she kept asking for specifics – examples of how precaution advocacy and outrage management strategies work in practice. Toward the end of the interview, she pushed me to shoot from the hip about applications I hadn’t thought through: How would I use risk communication to defend government surveillance? To oppose it? To defend shale gas “fracking”? To oppose that? The interview that resulted is a different sort of introduction to risk communication than the one I usually give. The 10-minute broadcast segment is nicely edited; it’s very smooth and covers most of my main points. But I prefer the roughness and detail of the complete interview.

      The NPR program is located off this site.
      The complete interview with Brooke Gladstone is located on this site. (79.5MB, 49 min.)

      This article is categorized as:    link to Introductory articles link to Precaution Advocacy index link to Outrage Management index

    • Is SoCalEd Mired in Crisis Or Controversy?

      by Ken Silverstein

      Posted on the Forbes website, May 16, 2013

      The Case against Keeping Secrets

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Excerpts from an email to Ken Silverstein, May 16, 2013

      On May 16, 2013, Ken Silverstein of Forbes interviewed me by telephone about a controversy over whether Southern California Edison had withheld information about problems at its San Onofre nuclear power plant. I didn’t know anything about the specifics of the controversy, but I was happy to talk about the generic question of why companies shouldn’t keep damaging information secret. In an email later that day, I elaborated on some of the points I had made on the phone. Ken’s online article and some edited excerpts from my email (only some of which Ken used in his story) are linked above.

      The Forbes article is located off this site.
      The excerpts from my email to Ken Silverstein are located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • H5N1 Researchers Ready as Moratorium Nears Endlink is to a PDF file

      by David Malakoff

      Published in Science, January 4, 2013, pp. 16–17.

      The Moratorium on H5N1 Bioengineering Research: What Was It For? What Did It Accomplish?

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to David Malakoff, December 26, 2012

      H5N1 (“bird flu”) is an especially deadly strain of influenza that could pose a huge human health risk if it ever acquired the ability to spread easily in humans – which so far it has not done. But in early 2012 a controversy arose over research aimed at bioengineering a new kind of H5N1 that would be more readily transmissible in mammals. The debate focused on the potential value of the research (for example, it might help scientists better understand how to stop H5N1 from becoming transmissible) versus its potential risks (an accident or an intentional release might launch an H5N1 pandemic). While the debate raged, a voluntary moratorium on similar research was instituted, while scientists, policymakers, and interested citizens tried to thrash out how this sort of research should be regulated. By the end of 2012, new rules had been proposed and the moratorium was pretty obviously about to end. That’s when David Malakoff of Science contacted me for comment on what I thought the moratorium had accomplished. His January 4, 2013 story used only one quotation from the email I sent him in response. Both David’s story and my email to him are linked here.

      A German translation of my email to David, somewhat edited, was posted January 19, 2013 on the website of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and published in that newspaper’s January 20, 2013 print issue.

      The Science article and my email to David Malakoff are located on this site.
      The German translation is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    2012

    • Il processo dell’Aquila agli scienziati dei terremoti e il rischio della fuga

      by Anna Meldolesi

      Published in Corriere della Sera, October 22, 2012

    • Convicting and Maybe Imprisoning Scientists for Bad Risk Communication: Italy’s L’Aquila Earthquake

      by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard

      Emails to Anna Meldolesi, October 16 and October 22, 2012

      In April 2009, a powerful earthquake devastated the Italian city of L’Aquila and surrounding villages. The quake had been preceded by a “swarm” of tremors, which many townspeople interpreted as a warning. So a panel of experts was invited to L’Aquila to assess the evidence and try to reassure the populace. The news conference that concluded the panel’s deliberations was indeed reassuring – excessively reassuring. As a result, six scientists and one government official were tried for manslaughter after the quake, and in October 2012 they were convicted – a rare and perhaps unprecedented case of imposing prison sentences on scientists for doing bad risk communication. In response to emails from Anna Meldolesi of Corriere della Sera, my wife and colleague Jody Lanard and I wrote two sets of comments on the case, some of which Anna used in her October 22 story. Both Anna’s story and our emails to her are linked above.

      The Corriere della Serra article is located off this site.
      The file with my two emails (with Jody Lanard) to Anna Meldolesi is located on this site

      This article is categorized as:    link to Crisis Communication index link to Outrage Management index

    • Report: Complacency, misperception stymie quest for better flu vaccines

      by Robert Roos and Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), October 15, 2012

      A game-changing approach to investigating flu vaccines

      by Lisa Schnirring and Robert Roos

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), October 15, 2012

      We’d Be Likelier to Develop a Better Flu Vaccine If Public Health Officials Didn’t Keep Misleading Everyone about the Flu Vaccine We Have

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to Lisa Schnirring, October 14, 2012

      On October 15, 2012, a University of Minnesota research organization issued a report on “The Compelling Need for Game-Changing Influenza Vaccines,” link is to a PDF file  arguing that the current flu vaccine is sorely inadequate, that a key barrier to developing a better vaccine is the widespread judgment that the current one is fine, and that the main reason the vaccine’s effectiveness is so consistently overestimated is that public health officials keep saying it is better than it is. I served on an Expert Advisory Group that helped with the research. A few days before the report was released, Lisa Schnirring of CIDRAP News emailed me three questions. Bits of my response were included in two October 15 articles that Lisa coauthored with Robert Roos. But neither article addressed a key point I made in my answers: that public health officials aren’t just accidently mistaken about flu vaccine effectiveness; in their zeal to encourage people to get vaccinated, they are sometimes intentionally dishonest. Both CIDRAP News articles and my email to Lisa are linked above.

      The two CIDRAP News articles are located off this site.
      My email to Lisa Schnirring is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • 2 years after Gulf oil spill, Louisiana seafood still battling negative perception

      by Benjamin Alexander-Bloch

      Published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 19, 2012

      Why Do Many People Still Refuse to Eat Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico?

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, April 17, 2012

      Reporter Ben Bloch of the New Orleans Times-Picayune emailed me about a story he was writing on why many people were put off Gulf seafood by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – so much so that now, two years later, 30% of the respondents in a recent survey said they were still apprehensive. This is the response I sent him. He used only a little of it in his story, not including my suggestion that officials might have been too quick and too keen to tell people there was no problem. But he did find a lot of other good material on the psychology of stigma in such situations.

      The Benjamin Alexander-Bloch article is located off this site.
      My email to Benjamin Alexander-Bloch is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • H1N1 cases in India sparking media hype

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), April 9, 2012

      India’s Response to Swine Flu – Still Weird

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to Lisa Schnirring, April 9, 2012

      When CIDRAP News decided to do a story about recent hype in India’s media coverage of swine flu, I pointed out that it wasn’t just recent and it wasn’t just the media. So reporter Lisa Schnirring asked if I wanted to comment on the record. This is the response I sent her. She used most of it in her story, along with a lot of other good material on Indian pandemic H1N1 hype.

      This Lisa Schnirring article is located off this site.
      My email to Lisa Schnirring is located on this site.

      These articles are categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Markets in Transition: Managing Outrage, Icky Pallets, Safety Issues at the Plant and Looking Ahead

      by Rick LeBlanc

      Posted on the website of Pallet Enterprise, April 1, 2012

      In the ongoing war between the wood and plastics industries, each side likes to accuse the other of manufacturing a dangerous product. One front in this war focuses on the pros and cons of wooden pallets versus plastic pallets. And apparently one of the arguments against wooden pallets is that the wood may be treated with hazardous chemicals or contaminated with bacteria, and may transfer the chemicals or bacteria to food that is stored on wooden pallets. It’s an issue I have never worked on. But this article by Rick LeBlanc does a good job of applying basic principles of outrage management to the wooden pallet food risk controversy.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • WHO H5N1 study group extends moratorium, calls for full publication

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), February 17, 2012

      The H5N1 Debate Needs Respectful Dialogue, Not “Education” or One-Sided Advocacy

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Email to Lisa Schnirring, February 17, 2012

      When laboratory researchers succeeded in creating a potentially pandemic strain of bird flu, a U.S. government agency recommended editing out methodological details before the two papers were published. Others suggested the research should never have been done and should not be pursued. The result was a pitched battle over what limits, if any, should be put on research and publication. The World Health Organization responded in part with a two-day meeting of public health officials and flu experts. At the end of the meeting the group announced some recommendations of its own. Lisa Schnirring of CIDRAP News asked for my comments, so I sent her an email – parts of which she used in her story on the WHO meeting.

      This Lisa Schnirring article is located off this site.
      My email to Lisa Schnirring is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    2011

    • Flu vaccine efficacy: Time to revise public messages?

      by Robert Roos

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), November 4, 2011

      Overselling Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Risks Undermining Public Health Credibility

      by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard

      Email to Robert Roos, October 27, 2011

      On October 25, 2011, a team led by Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota published a meta-analysis of prior research on the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, showing it to be less effective than public health officials and experts have usually claimed. In the resulting media coverage, many in public health said the Osterholm paper wasn’t really surprising and denied that flu vaccine effectiveness has been routinely oversold. So Jody Lanard and I made a case that it was still being oversold, focusing particularly on two very recent updates on the CDC website, and emailed it to Robert Roos of CIDRAP News. Bob interviewed public health professionals about what we said and put together a November 4 story called “Flu vaccine efficacy: Time to revise public messages?” There’s no question mark in the title we’re giving our email: “Overselling Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Risks Undermining Public Health Credibility.”

      This Robert Roos article is located off this site.
      Our email to Robert Roos is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • by Lorna Benson

      Broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio, October 25, 2011

      In October 2011, Lancet Infectious Diseases published a new statistical analysis of the literature on flu vaccine effectiveness, showing that the vaccine is less effective than most patients, most doctors, and even many state and local health departments have believed. Lorna Benson of Minnesota Public Radio included some comments from me in her story on the new study. I emphasized that flu vaccine experts have known for some years that the vaccine doesn’t work as well as they wish, but have been reluctant to say so very publicly, fearing that candor about the vaccine’s low efficacy might dissuade some people from getting vaccinated or getting their kids vaccinated. (Lorna reported that some actual flu vaccine experts told her the same thing, but refused to be named.) I argued that the bigger risk was that people who discovered that flu vaccine effectiveness had been systematically hyped might start to worry – logically but I think mistakenly – that perhaps public health officials can’t be trusted on vaccine safety either. That may be why the CDC recently snuck in a downward revision of the assessment of flu vaccine efficacy on its own website, belatedly acknowledging the truth about the vaccine – but still not acknowledging the truth about its prior hype.

      The news story (broadcast and print versions) is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • by Lorna Benson

      Broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio, April 27, 2011

      link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Talking about the Vaccination-Autism Connection … to Somali Parents of Autistic Children(Note: This link launches the MP3 audio file on this site.)

      Interview with Peter M. Sandman by Lorna Benson, April 27, 2011

      Lorna Benson of Minnesota Public Radio asked if she could interview me about a long-brewing controversy between the Somali community in Minnesota and state health officials over the high rate of autism among Somali children in Minnesota and the resurgence of measles in the Somali community because many Somali parents suspect a connection and choose not to vaccinate their kids. The 35-minute radio interview took place on April 27. It focused on ways I though the Minnesota Department of Health might deal more empathically with Somali concerns – and, more generally, on my criticism of the public health establishment for sometimes sounding more deeply committed to defending the safety of the MMR vaccine than to vaccinating kids against measles or seeking an answer to the riddle of autism. Lorna's story ended up focusing mostly on a Minnesota “vaccination awareness forum” that had also taken place on April 27; toward the end of the story she linked some of my interview comments to some of what she had heard at the forum.

      The news story (broadcast and print versions) is located off this site.
      The interview audio file (MP3, 57MB, 35 min.) is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Is This the Poster Food for a Radiation Menace?

      by Denise Grady

      Published in The New York Times, April 12, 2011, p. D5

      Denise called me on April 8 to ask why nearly every nuclear expert she interviewed about the risk of eating food contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima power plants kept talking about bananas. The point of such comparisons, I told her, is to belittle people’s fears about low levels of radioactivity by picking a comparator that will make them feel stupid for worrying – something we eat routinely without knowing it has radioactive ingredients. I emphasized that minimizing comparisons usually backfire, especially in the middle of a crisis – not just because they’re pompous and condescending, but also because people can sense that the source’s goal is to (over)reassure them rather than to inform and guide them.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Crisis Communication index

    • In Defense of Iodine Snatchers

      by Charlie Foster

      Posted on the Turnstyle website, April 1, 2011

      On March 23, Charlie Foster posted an article for “Turnstyle” (an online information service by and for adults 18–34) on some of the ways the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japanese government have fostered mistrust in their handling of the Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis. It was based entirely on his phone interview with me. On April 1, Charlie posted this second article, based on the same interview. This one focuses on why I think people who seek out potassium iodide shouldn’t be belittled as stupid, as hoarders, or as panicking.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Crisis Communication index

    • link is to a PDF fileRisk Communication Formula: Avoid Half-Truths, Manage
      the Outrage

      by Scott Van Camp

      Published in PR News, March 14, 2011

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Outrage Management: A Tough Paradigm for Public Relations
      to Swallow
      (Note: This link launches the MP3 audio file.)

      Interview with Peter M. Sandman by Scott Van Camp, March 10, 2011

      Scott Van Camp’s article is a brief summary of my approach to risk communication, especially outrage management (which Scott – like most PR people – insists on calling “crisis communication”). The article is noteworthy mainly for the skeptical interest shown by the PR people Scott interviewed about my approach. As Scott points out near the start of the article, “Sandman has built a successful crisis career on imparting risk strategies and tactics that have resonated with clients, although they have never taken full flight within PR.” I have also posted our 50-minute March 10 telephone interview (“Outrage Management: A Tough Paradigm for Public Relations to Swallow”). Anticipating the likely thrust of the article, I devoted a lot of the interview to the difficulties PR people have with outrage management.

      The audio file (MP3, 39MB, 50 min.) and the PDF (642kB) are located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Social Media’s Impact on Reputation Management
      (Note: This link launches the MP3 audio file.)

      Interview with Peter M. Sandman by Maura O’Malley, January 31, 2011

      Reputation 3.0link is to a PDF file

      by Maura O’Malley

      Published in the March 2011 issue of Intellectual Property Magazine, pp. 20–22

      Maura O’Malley of Intellectual Property Magazine asked if she could interview me for an article on “management of reputations online” – particularly on how the rise of social media had affected the way companies manage (or should manage) reputational crises. In the 40-minute telephone interview that resulted, I argued that it has always been a mistake for companies to ignore, patronize, or attack their critics instead of being responsive. The growth of social media has made this mistake much more obvious and much more damaging, I said; even the most recalcitrant companies are beginning to learn the lesson. We also talked about the role of lawyers (the magazine’s main audience) in reputational controversies, plus some other topics.

      Maura’s article, entitled “Reputation 3.0,” link is to a PDF file is posted on this site with permission.

      This audio file (MP3, 30 MB, 40 min.) and the PDF (357kB) are located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • Introduction to Outrage Management

      curated by Rusty Cawley

      Posted on the pearltrees website, January 6, 2011

      Rusty Cawley is a seasoned public relations professional who got interested in my approach to outrage management in 2001. As he explains on his “Outrage 2.0 Blog,” he decided in 2011 to take a stab at “connecting the dots” in my “sprawling” website using pearltrees software to organize some of what I’ve written about outrage management. (He doesn’t touch precaution advocacy and crisis communication at all.) If you’re looking for an organized entrée to outrage management and the structure of this website doesn’t do the job for you, check out Rusty’s restructure and see what you think.

      This structure is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    2010

    • Carnival Cruises Must Bail Out Its Image

      by Tanya Irwin

      Published in Marketing Daily, November 15, 2010 (posted on the Marketing Daily website November 14, 2010)

      As the crippled cruise ship Carnival Splendor limped home to San Diego after an engine room fire, I followed the story casually, noticing that Carnival management seemed to be handling the communication fairly well. Then Tanya Irwin of Marketing Daily left me a phone message asking me to email her a few paragraphs of comment. So I checked out the coverage a little more carefully, confirmed my impression, and sent her a brief response (“Carnival Manages to Avoid Defensiveness about Its Crippled Cruise Ship”). The published article uses some of what I said, including my suggestion that Carnival might have made better use of the risk communication seesaw.

      This file is located off this site. My original email is posted on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • Will this phone kill you?

      by Sharon Begley

      Posted on the Newsweek website, August 5, 2010

      This website article reviews the mixed and highly uncertain evidence on whether cell phones give people cancer, quoting me briefly on why so few people are worried about the possibility. Because people love their cell phones, I argue, they use the uncertainty of the studies as an excuse not to worry. My longer answer to Sharon’s emailed question (“Why aren’t people more worried about cell phone health risks?”) is posted in this website’s Guestbook. It points out why people are far likelier to worry about cell phone towers than the phones themselves.

      This file is located off this site.

    • Why We’re Vilifying BP

      by Peter M. Sandman

      Solicited letter to the editor, London Evening Standard, June 4, 2010

      On June 3, the London Evening Standard published a piece by City Editor Chris Blackhurst urging everybody to “Stop putting the boot into BP – we need it to survive.” The editors asked me to write a response for the next day’s paper. So I wrote one, agreeing with Blackhurst that vilifying BP is unwise and in some ways unfair, then pointing out some other ways I think the vilification is justified. I don’t know if the response was published (the Evening Standard website doesn’t include letters), but here it is.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Crisis Communication index

    • Communicating about the BP Oil Spill: What to Say; Who Should Talk

      by Peter M. Sandman (with contributions by Jody Lanard)

      Posted on Daily Kos, May 30, 2010

      On May 29, one of the editors of the popular left-leaning blog Daily Kos, who goes under the nom-de-Web “DemFromCT,” wrote to ask my views on two risk communication aspects of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: What should the sources be saying about the likely future course of the spill, and who should do the talking. He quoted liberally from my response in his May 30 post, entitled “Risk Communication and Disasters: Just Tell the Truth.” He also posted my whole response at the end of his piece. I focused mostly on telling the whole truth, avoiding over-reassurance, and letting everybody talk instead of trying to “speak with one voice.”

      My response is located on this site.
      DemFromCT’s complete post (including my response) and
      a wide range of reader comments are located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Crisis Communication index

    • Swine Flu Pandemic Communication Challenges and Lessons Learned

      by Peter M. Sandman and Jody Lanard

      Responses to emailed questions from Lisa Schnirring of CIDRAP News

      On April 21, 2010, Lisa Schnirring of CIDRAP News (part of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota) wrote me that she was working on an article on communications challenges and lessons learned from the swine flu pandemic – one of a series of CIDRAP News retrospectives to mark the first anniversary of the emergence of the new H1N1 virus. Would my wife and colleague Jody Lanard and I like to be interviewed? I replied that if she would email us some questions, we would answer in writing. No article ever materialized, but here are Lisa’s questions and our answers.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3BP’s Communication Response to the Deepwater Horizon Spill
      (Note: This link goes to a written summary, which includes a link to the MP3 audio file)

      by Peter M. Sandman

      BBC Radio 4 interview with Peter M. Sandman, broadcasted on the “PM” newscast, May 3, 2010

      On May 3 I did a brief interview with BBC Radio on risk communication aspects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Although the interview was prerecorded, to my surprise they used the whole thing. This page has the link to the MP3 file with the interview. It also has a summary of what I said and what else I’d have liked to say.

      This file and the audio file (MP3, 3MB, 4 min.) are located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Crisis Communication index  link to Outrage Management index

    • Risk Communication    link is to a pdf file

      by Vivian Krause

      Posted on the Vivian Krause’s “Fish Farm Fuss

      Vivian Krause is a former employee of the farmed fish industry and now a citizen activist on behalf of fish farming, and against what she sees as an unfair campaign by many environmental groups on behalf of wild fish. She is also extremely interested in outrage management. For several years now she has tried to help the farmed fish industry listen better and respond better to the outrage of its critics. She understands how difficult industry finds that task, because she finds it difficult herself, lapsing periodically into venting her own outrage at the critics instead. In 2006 I posted a set of Vivian’s PowerPoint slides on “Risk Communication for Salmon Aquaculture.”  This new slide set makes no mention of the fish-farming industry. It is also revised in other ways. I don’t always agree with the details of Vivian’s interpretations of my work. But she makes it simple, keeps it interesting, feels it deeply, and gets it mostly right.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file,   11 MB, located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Outrage Management index

    • European hearing airs WHO pandemic response, critics’ charges

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), January 26, 2010

      Charges that the World Health Organization (WHO) exaggerated the risk of the H1N1 pandemic in collusion with drug companies came to a head in a January 26 hearing of the Council of Europe’s Committee on Social, Health and Family Affairs. Lisa Schnirring covered the story for CIDRAP News. While she was working on her article, I sent her an email offering some comments. My wife and colleague Jody Lanard did so as well (at Lisa’s request), and Lisa wound up quoting us both – Jody mostly on the normal antipathy between WHO and Big Pharma and thus the irony of the conflict-of-interest charge; and me mostly on WHO’s failure to concede two valid charges among the invalid ones: that WHO hadn’t sufficiently acknowledged the pandemic’s mildness and that WHO had dropped severity from its characterization of flu pandemics at the last minute.

      After Lisa’s article was published, Jody and I decided to expand my email to document more thoroughly the two valid charges, the risk communication case for acknowledging them, and WHO’s failure to do so. The resulting critique (“It’s Not a Fake Pandemic – but WHO’s Defense Lacks Candor”) is a lot tougher on WHO than the CIDRAP News article.

      This file is located off this site. Our critique is posted on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Why Seniors Really Should Fear Swine Flu

      by Sharon Begley

      Blogged on the Newsweek website, January 8, 2010

      I continue to be surprised that the mainstream media have paid so little attention to the CDC’s evidence that children are actually less at risk of catching a deadly case of swine flu than adults and seniors – and so little attention to the CDC’s decision not to change its vaccination messaging in response to that evidence. Even after I posted a Swine Flu Pandemic Communication Update on the subject, I was unable to arouse much of a reaction. This excellent blog post by Newsweek’s science editor is an exception … or perhaps a watershed. Starting from my update, Sharon Begley nailed the evidence that seniors are being dangerously misled into thinking they’re too old to worry about swine flu.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    2009

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3The CDC’s Pandemic Data versus the CDC’s Pandemic Communications: Outtakes from a Media Interview
      (Note: This link goes to a page on-site with links to a number of MP3 audio files.)

      by Peter M. Sandman

      December 18, 2009

      On December 2, 2009, and again on December 15, I criticized the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in my “Swine Flu Pandemic Communication Update” for (in my view) intentionally misinterpreting its own data on the severity of the swine flu pandemic and on which age cohorts were most at risk. These criticisms aroused surprisingly little media interest. But a couple of reporters did call for interviews. Here are some excerpts from my side of one telephone interview. No story based on this interview ever materialized. The details are no longer of much interest, except as a pristine case study of successful CDC dishonesty.

      This is a link to page with links to the audio MP3 files, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Flu Precautions: Making Sense of CDC Advice
      (Note: This link goes to an article off-site with a link to this MP3 audio file.)

      by Deborah Franklin

      Broadcast on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” November 6, 2009

      The CDC website has detailed advice for parents with a child home sick with swine flu. But it’s not necessarily very practical or user-friendly advice. Deborah Franklin’s story on NPR’s “Morning Edition” features some of the ways the CDC’s recommendations might be a tad unrealistic. She used me to say the obvious: that there’s nothing wrong with telling parents how to achieve maximum infection control at home, but it would help to offer a Plan B for parents who can’t or won’t do it all. The link includes both the audio clip and a print version of the story from NPR’s website. Available on this site: An email I sent the reporter (“Prioritizing among Precautions: The Best Is the Enemy of the Good”) before the interview with some thoughts on public health professionals’ reluctance to help people prioritize among their recommended precautions.

      This file is located off this site. My original email is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Marketing Flu Vaccine: A Tough Sell for Many
      (Note: This link goes to an article off-site with a link to this MP3 audio file.)

      by Richard Knox

      Broadcast on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” November 2, 2009

      Richard Knox interviewed me for nearly an hour on how I think the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should speak to people who aren’t just worried about the safety of the swine flu vaccine, but are also mistrustful of government and not inclined simply to take the CDC’s word that the vaccine is safe. I talked a lot about the sorts of accountability mechanisms smart corporations use, and how the CDC could use similar approaches if it weren’t so deeply offended by people’s mistrust. The resulting story in “All Things Considered” used only a little of the interview, of course. The link includes both the audio clip and a print version of the story from NPR’s website.

      This file and the audio file are located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Sorting through panic and anxiety

      by Judy Gerstel

      Published in the Toronto Star, October 30, 2009

      When a healthy 13-year-old soccer player in Toronto suddenly got swine flu and died, both major Toronto newspapers ran front-page stories urging people not to panic. Until then, public health authorities had been desperately trying to get people to take the pandemic seriously enough; now they reversed direction and started making reassuring statements. Instead of seizing the teachable moment, they succumbed to their own “fear of fear.” Judy Gerstel of the Toronto Star called me to ask about the mixed messages. The resulting story suffers a bit from ham-handed editing – but it is still on target.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Uncertainty over H1N1 warranted, experts say

      by Judy Gerstel

      Published in the Toronto Star, October 9, 2009

      I’ve pretty much stopped posting news stories that quote me about pandemic risk communication, since neither the stories nor the quotes say much that’s new. But this Toronto Star “Analysis” story by Judy Gerstel swims against the tide. Like many other stories, this one covers official uncertainty about many aspects of the swine flu pandemic. It focuses particularly on an unpublished Canadian study that seems to show the seasonal flu vaccine might increase vulnerability to the pandemic virus, which has led to significant changes in some provinces’ vaccination policies despite contrary (also unpublished) studies. But instead of criticizing the uncertainty as official “double messages” leading to public “confusion,” Judy praises it as “transparency, responsiveness, agility and acknowledgement of uncertainty.” I was pleased to be part of the story. (I’m also in a less interesting Judy Gerstel swine flu story published the same day, “Swine flu squeezing out the seasonal bug,” which despite its headline actually focuses on what to call the pandemic virus.)

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • British public slow to respond to pandemic

      by Holly Else

      Posted on Emerging Health Threats Forum, July 16, 2009

      A survey of pandemic attitudes in the U.K found people not very concerned and not very inclined to take precautions. Holly Else of the Emerging Health Threats Forum sent me an email asking what I thought of these results. I replied that they were unsurprising, since it often takes a generation to inculcate a new precaution in a society, especially with regard to a risk that isn’t obviously serious (yet). On the date this news story was being prepared, the U.K. had just experienced two pandemic deaths in previously healthy people (one of them a child), and the level of public anxiety was apparently higher than it was in early May, when the survey had been conducted – so I commented on that too, noting that a temporary adjustment reaction does not constitute panic. My original response (“It Isn’t Easy to Arouse Pandemic Concern. What Do We Need People to Know?”) is posted on this site. It also identified what I considered the three key things the U.K. public needed to know about the pandemic; that was a little beside the point and didn’t make it into the story.

      This file is located off this site. My original email is posted on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • WHO suspends reporting of H1N1 case counts

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), July 16, 2009

      On July 16, the World Health Organization advised countries to stop routinely testing suspected pandemic flu cases to confirm the diagnosis. WHO’s main reason was to conserve laboratory resources better used for other purposes, once widespread community transmission has already been established. But there is also a risk communication angle to the story. The tally of confirmed cases is a much smaller number than the actual number of people who have had the disease. As I explained to Lisa Schnirring of CIDRAP News, overuse of the confirmed case count has given many people the misimpression that the pandemic is much less pervasive than it actually is, and has made sources who tried to explain its actual pervasiveness sound like fear-mongers. The emphasis on confirmed cases has also made the disease look more deadly than it actually is (so far), since the unconfirmed cases are missing from the denominator of the “case fatality rate” fraction.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Critics say “mild” a misleading term for H1N1

      by Helen Branswell

      Distributed by Canadian Press, June 28, 2009

      Canadian Press reporter Helen Branswell (the dean of the pandemic press corps) sent me an email asking my opinion on all the official statements that pandemic H1N1 is “mild” and that it attacks mostly people with “underlying health conditions.” I wrote back that both claims are accurate but misleading. When applied to a flu pandemic, “mild” doesn’t mean what we think it does, and an awful lot of people have “underlying health conditions.” And anyway, why were officials trying so hard to reassure the public, when the real problem was public complacency? Helen used only a little of my email in her article. My original email to Helen (“Is Swine Flu “Mild”? Are We Safe If We Have No “Underlying Conditions”?”) is posted on this site.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Communication expert endorses WHO’s delay on pandemic declaration

      by Robert Roos

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), June 12, 2009

      On June 11, the World Health Organization finally let the other shoe drop, formally declaring H1N1 a pandemic. CIDRAP’s Robert Roos sent me an email asking for my comments. I responded that the delay itself had been pretty sensible – which turned into Bob’s lead angle. But I had mixed feelings about some of what Director-General Margaret Chan and Interim Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda said in making the announceoverhyment. What had motivated WHO to delay in the first place had been its twin concerns that the declaration might frighten people unduly (“Oh my God a pandemic!”) and that the declaration might reinforce people’s complacency (“This is a pandemic? What’s the big deal?”). Yet the announcement did relatively little to address either concern. My original exchange of emails with Bob Roos (“Reactions to the WHO’s Phase 6 Declaration”) is posted on this site.

      This file is located off this site. My original email is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • We’re Living in a Pandemic: Now What Do We Do?

      by Nancy Shute

      Blogged in Nancy Shute’s “On Parenting” blog, U.S. News & World Report, June 11, 2009

      After WHO declared H1N1 a pandemic, Nancy Shute asked me what the declaration meant for how worried parents should be. I answered that it shouldn’t have any effect at all; the reasons to worry were just as compelling before the declaration as after, and the reasons to worry were mostly about what might happen, not what had happened so far. When the story appeared on Nancy’s “On Parenting” blog, it left the impression I thought there was little or no reason to worry, period. So I sent her a longer, more alarmist comment, entitled “Swine flu is more serious than many people think.”

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • WHO under pressure from member states to rewrite pandemic requirement

      by Helen Branswell

      Distributed by Canadian Press, May 22, 2009

      For weeks, a number of governments have been urging the World Health Organization to redefine “pandemic” so it wouldn’t have to declare H1N1 a pandemic. Their main worry: that a pandemic declaration would panic their publics, leading to demands for border closings and other such ineffective and economically damaging infection control measures. On May 22, WHO announced that it would reconsider its pandemic definition. I thought the rationale for doing so was mistaken. But I saw some merit in the decision itself, for exactly the opposite reason: that a pandemic declaration while H1N1 remained mild would “teach” people that pandemics are no big deal. This CP story by Helen Branswell quotes me briefly to that effect. My original email to the reporter (“On WHO Changing the Definition of ‘Pandemic’”) is on this site.

      This file and my original email are located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • The WHO That Cried Flu?

      by Jess Hill

      Posted on newmatilda.com, May 12, 2009

      I’m not sure what to say about this Australian website posting. Its tone is awfully flip. And author Jess Hill got some details wrong. (For example, she writes about my “‘Watch out! Stop Worrying’ approach” – which is actually two antithetical approaches.) Still, she really does seem to understand the dilemma WHO faces as it tries to warn people about a situation that looks quite mild at the moment. And she has condensed a lot of my website writing on pandemics into two risk communication strategies she thinks WHO is using with regard to swine flu: “Get Your Slice of the ‘Fearfulness Pie’” and “Use ‘Teachable Moments’ to Establish ‘The New Normal.’” Once I got past the tone, I found this short article a very thoughtful assessment.

      By the way, Hill quotes me as saying that I have worked on over 500 crises. It’s an accurate quotation, but it’s not so. I have worked on over 500 controversies that felt like crises to my clients, because their reputations or their profitability was threatened – but far fewer actual crises that seriously threatened public health. Swine flu is one of the latter.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Health Check
      (Note: This link launches an MP3 audio file from this site.)

      by Claudia Hammond

      Broadcast on BBC World Service, May 10–12, 2009

      “Health Check” is a weekly program on BBC radio. This audio clip deals with people’s emotional reactions to swine flu. It starts with a report from Mexico City, followed with an interview with me. I point out that officials suffer from “panic panic,” excessively worried that the public will panic, but that in most crisis situations (this one included) apathy is a much bigger problem than panic. I also talk about the role of denial, and emphasize that what officials need to do is to legitimize people’s fears – not tell them they shouldn’t be afraid.

      This is an audio MP3 file, 7.9 MB, 8:30 min., located on this site.

      This audio clip is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • H1N1 flu – are we preparing for the worst or hoping for a break?

      by Clare Forrester

      Published in the Jamaica Observer, May 9, 2009

      Jamaica Observer columnist Clare Forrester is the former Media and Communication Advisor of the Office of Caribbean Program Coordination of the Pan American Health Organization, where she worked with my wife and colleague Jody Lanard. This is a thoughtful and level-headed column arguing that the swine flu threat is still serious, that officials need to be candid rather than over-reassuring, and that the real danger isn’t panic but apathy – and loss of trust if officials over-reassure and then things get bad. She interviewed Jody and looked at my website to get some additional quotes, but she had it right to start with.

      This file is located on this site.

      This file is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Avoiding “warning fatigue” over swine flu

      by Anita Makri

      Posted on Emerging Health Threats Forum, May 8, 2009

      Anita Makri of Emerging Health Threats Forum asked some of the most thoughtful questions I have been asked anywhere about the risk communication implications of the fact that swine flu has been mild so far, about what governments might have done differently in the way they warned people, about what they ought to be saying now, and about how to handle any future warnings that might be needed. She compiled my answers with answers from the CDC’s Barbara Reynolds into an excellent article on swine flu warning fatigue. This sentence from the article captures the problem best: “‘We need to persuade people who became alarmed (wisely) and then became less alarmed (also wisely) that they have nothing to feel foolish about and nothing to feel angry about … but good reason to remain vigilant,’ says Sandman.”

      This file is located off this site.

      These articles are categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • One focus of week-two swine flu news coverage is the “hype” meme (or “overhype” – which I guess assumes a fair amount of hype is only natural). When interviewed on whether officials were fear-mongering, I try to stress two points: (a) that officials were right to warn about a serious risk that might not materialize; and (b) that the widespread conviction that the story was hyped will make it harder for officials to keep warning that we’re not out of the woods yet. Here are three examples (one quoting my wife and colleague Jody Lanard, not me).

      The first is located off site. The second two files are located on this site.

      These articles are categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Only a small number of journalists are interested in swine flu risk communication – but most of that small number eventually find their way to me. Of the resulting stories, I’m posting the most interesting ones separately; I’m not posting the least interesting ones at all. Here are a few in the middle.

      Some of these files are located off this site.

      These articles are categorized as:    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Communicating the Message of Swine Flu: An Expert’s Opinion
      (Note: This link goes to a webpage off-site with the link to this MP3 audio file.)

      by Grace Hood

      Broadcast on KUNC radio, May 5, 2009

      Grace Hood made a mistake at the start of this four-minute interview when she said I told her some people are panicking about swine flu. And I overstated things pretty badly myself when I said that at the start of the outbreak the experts were “on the phone in the middle of the night” worrying that swine flu might be “the granddaddy of all pandemics.” Despite both errors, this is a pretty solid interview on two key points I keep stressing: (a) that a good pandemic warning needs to be simultaneously scary and tentative; and (b) that the U.S. government didn’t do much to urge people to prepare when it looked like a severe pandemic might be imminent, so it’s hard to imagine it’ll do more now that the sense of imminence has gone.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • 5 Ways to Manage the Family’s Swine Flu

      by Nancy Shute

      Blogged on the U.S. News & World Report website, May 1, 2009

      Nancy Shute called to ask me about three things: whether parents should worry about their children in connection with swine flu, what they should do about it, and how they should talk to their kids about the situation. She really wanted to interview my wife and colleague Jody Lanard, but Jody’s in Asia and Nancy figured maybe a three-time father might be able to gin up some child-sensitive risk communication answers too. I tried. She captured what I said very well, I think, except that I didn’t say you should “sympathize” with a child’s legitimate swine flu worries; I said you should share them – not the same thing at all.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3 Swine Flu Questions and Answers
      (Note: This link launches an MP3 audio file from this site.)

      by Lisa Mullins (interview with Peter M. Sandman and Christine Gorman)

      Broadcast on PRI’s “The World” (National Public Radio), April 30, 2009

      Long-time health journalist Christine Gorman and I chatted with host Lisa Mullins for about 20 minutes. PRI used about half of it. I spent a lot of my time riding my hobbyhorse that the government needs to do more to urge people to prepare in case a serious pandemic is around the corner. But Lisa got us talking about other things as well, notably why it doesn’t make a lot of sense to close the Mexican border when lots of people on this side of the border are already carrying the flu virus, while lots of trucks on the other side are carrying goods we need.

      This is an audio MP3 file, 9.7 MB, 10:20 minutes, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link launches an MP3Swine Flu Precautions: Figuring Out Which Ones Make Sense
      (Note: This link launches an MP3 audio file from this site.)

      by Stephen Evans (interview with Peter M. Sandman)

      Broadcast on BBC World Service “Business Daily,” April 29, 2009

      This is only marginally about risk communication. The “Business Daily” reporter’s working hypothesis was that swine flu precautions – individual and societal – are excessive given how few people have died compared to the fatalities from many other risks (worker accidents, for example, not to mention the seasonal flu). I tried to explain that what’s scary about swine flu isn’t what has already happened; it’s what might (or might not) happen. It’s hard to choose precautions when the risk in question could end up catastrophic or trivial or anywhere in the middle. Going further and further beyond my field of expertise, I ended up explaining why I think dispersing antivirals nearer to population centers probably makes sense and closing airports probably doesn’t. The editors pretty much left my risk communication points on the cutting room floor (the psychological benefits of taking precautions, for example), and ran with my off-the-cuff amateur opinions about infection management. Not their fault, of course; I was the one answering the damn questions.

      This is an audio MP3 file, 4.3 MB, 6:06 minutes, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Experts worry mild disease outside of Mexico hampers bid to get people to prepare

      by Helen Branswell

      Distributed by Canadian Press, April 29, 2009

      For days I have been haranguing Helen Branswell of Canadian Press (and everyone else I can buttonhole) about the need for officials to be simultaneously scary and tentative in what they tell the public about the swine flu pandemic that might (or might not) be impending. She eventually decided to do the story, pegged to the potentially misleading mildness of the non-Mexican cases so far. When she called to interview me, I also stressed the importance of urging people to undertake their own preparedness efforts, not just to watch the government prepare and practice good hygiene. And I criticized the government’s excessive fear of frightening the public. She managed to squeeze all three points into the story.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • WHO raises pandemic alert to phase 4

      by Robert Roos

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), April 27, 2009

      In the face of a very scary swine flu outbreak spreading from Mexico, the World Health Organization on April 27, 2009 did two things to its index of six pandemic phases: It implemented some changes in phase definitions (long in the works) that – among other effects – made the criteria for Phase 4 more demanding; and in spite of that it finally ratcheted up to Phase 4. Bob Roos of CIDRAP News sent me an email asking for comment on the likely impact of the latter change. His published article used some of what I said about my hope that the shift would signal organizations to trigger their pandemic plans and individuals to launch their own preparations. My original email (“Impacts of the WHO Ratchet from Pandemic Phase 3 to Phase 4”) is also on this site.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • More US swine flu cases, Mexico illnesses raise pandemic questions

      WHO declares public health emergency as US swine flu cases rise

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), April 23 and April 25, 2009

      When a potentially pandemic novel swine flu virus was discovered in North America in late April of 2009, I started writing a column on how the sources and the media were underplaying the story, failing to warn people sufficiently in large part because they were suffering from excessive “panic panic.” As the situation kept evolving, I got involved in trying to influence the sourcing and the coverage – and never finished the column. So all I have to share so far is brief quotations toward the end of two CIDRAP News articles by Lisa Schnirring. The first one criticizes the CDC for missing the teachable moment. The second one argues that it’s important to help people envision how bad things might (or might not) get.

      For a complete rundown on what I think authorities should be saying right now (April 26, 2009) – written with Jody Lanard in March 2007, when we thought the virus in question would be “bird flu,” not “swine flu” – see “What to Say When a Pandemic Looks Imminent: Messaging for WHO Phases Four and Five.”

      These files are located off this site.

      These articles are categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link launches an MP3Interview with Dr. Peter Sandman
      (Note: This link launches an MP3 audio file.)

      by Andrew Findlater

      Posted on the National Public Relations website, March 9, 2009

      Canadian PR firm National Public Relations was one of the sponsors that brought me to Vancouver in March 2009 to give a two-day risk communication seminar (jointly with my wife and colleague Jody Lanard), organized by the University of British Columbia. As part of the event, the company taped this seven-minute interview with me on the basics of my “Risk = Hazard + Outrage” formula. The tape was posted (and labeled a “podcast”) on the National Public Relations website, and the link was emailed to conference participants and National Public Relations clients. It’s no longer on the National Public Relations site, so I have posted it here. If you prefer listening to reading, this is an okay introduction.

      This audio file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:    link to Introductory articles

    • Cass Sunstein, Risk, Cost-Benefit and OHS

      by Kevin Jones

      Posted on his “Safety-at-Work Blog,” January 26, 2009

      Barack Obama’s selection of Cass Sunstein as the new U.S. “regulatory czar” prompted safety blogger Kevin Jones to republish his 2003 review of one of Sunstein’s books. In the review, Jones criticized Sunstein for ignoring my work on outrage in his approach to risk management. In fact, Sunstein has paid a lot of attention to outrage; he even coauthored a book about it (with risk guru Daniel Kahneman, not me). Sunstein will thus be the first top U.S. government official who has made significant contributions to the risk perception literature. So I posted a comment on Jones’s blog, citing some of Sunstein’s work and expressing my optimism about his appointment. I also took the opportunity to reflect briefly on the most difficult outrage-related challenge Sunstein will face: developing “a new, suppler set of not-quite-regulatory tools that can help ameliorate public outrage about risks that are more upsetting than they are dangerous.”

      This file is located off this site.

    • Reporting Reality

      by Peter Martin (Canberra economics correspondent for The Age, Melbourne, Australia)

      Posted on his blog, January 20, 2009

      A different version was published in The Age, January 20, 2009, under the title “Bad news must be told.”

      The current economic meltdown is surely a crisis (high hazard, high outrage). And so the principles of crisis communication apply, including the crucial principle of leveling with people about bad news rather than feeding them over-reassuring half-truths. Unfortunately, most of those charged with responding to the world economic crisis don’t quite realize that crisis communication is a field. They’re making it up as they go along, and they rarely get it right. (I admit I’m not quite sure economics is a field; they seem to be making that up as they go along too.) It was a pleasure to see Peter Martin cite some of my work on behalf of candor about recession bad news – both the candor of the Australian government and his own candor in his economics writing for The Age, one of Australia’s leading newspapers.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Crisis Communication index

    2008–2007

    • Broadcast on PRI’s “The World,” November 21, 2008

      Radio reporter Jason Margolis of “The World” attended a conference of global climate change skeptics, decided they were more deniers than actual skeptics, and ended up with a 10-minute story on climate change denial. I was one of several experts he quoted to explore the reasons why so many people have trouble facing the threat of global warming. In our interview, I focused on some ways activist communications may unwittingly encourage audience denial. Jason used the part on guilt – on why telling people their lifestyle is destroying the earth may not be the best way to inspire them to action. My views are elaborated further in a 2009 column on “Climate Change Risk Communication: The Problem of Psychological Denial.”

      This article is categorized as:   link to Precaution Advocacy index

    • “Beyond Petroleum?”

      Posted on the “Design Less Better” blog, November 17, 2008

      The blog of a boutique design agency recently took on British Petroleum’s effort to rebrand itself as “beyond petroleum,” pointing out some of BP’s failures to live up to its environmental promises. Along the way, the entry quotes me as a BP PR advisor, implying that I helped with the rebranding. I have in fact given communication advice to BP over the years, but I think the rebranding promises far too much. I posted a comment on the blog noting that promising too much and performing too little are separate sins, and that it’s hard to distinguish the hypocrisy of an organization that’s pretending to change from the inconsistency of an organization that’s trying to change.

      This file is located off this site.

    • What would you advise EnCana executives?

      by Cindy Stephenson

      Posted on her “PR Perspective” blog, November 5, 2008

      Canadian public relations practitioner Cindy Stephenson made good use of my thinking in this blog post on three recent attempts to blow up EnCana Corporation sour gas pipelines near Dawson Creek, B.C. But she didn’t really address what I see as a key issue in all cases of eco-terrorism: Should the company take any of the blame for attracting the terrorists’ ire and leaving them convinced that a nonviolent response would be useless? So I sent a response to her blog briefly discussing that issue, in terms of the risk communication seesaw.

      This file is located off this site.

    • Study: Media can distort public’s views on infectious diseases

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), November 5, 2008

      CIDRAP’s Lisa Schnirring asked me to comment on a new research paper showing that students take infectious diseases that have been much-covered in the media more seriously than diseases that have had less media attention. The paper’s authors interpreted this as evidence that media coverage distorts people’s perceptions of infectious diseases. I thought it was likelier that some characteristics of some infectious diseases – such as the potential to launch a pandemic! – rightly make them a bigger concern for both the media and the public than diseases without those characteristics. I sent Lisa a fairly blistering critique (“The Media and the Public Are Right to Pay More Attention to Avian Flu than to Yellow Fever!”) of the paper. She toned it down in what she published.

      The title file is located off this site. My response is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Oilsands the poster child of bad oil

      by Kelly Cryderman

      Published in the Calgary Herald, November 2, 2008

      I appear only in the last four paragraphs of this long article on the escalating controversy over the environmental impacts of oilsands development, making the point that people tend to worry less about the environment when the economy sours. Bad economic times are thus a good time for embattled companies and industries to make their case.

      This file is located off this site.

    • Businesses urged to avoid pandemic planning pitfalls

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), October 9, 2008

      CIDRAP’s Michael Osterholm asked me to join him in hosting an October 9 webinar entitled “Avoiding the Big 7 Pandemic-Planning Mistakes: How Set-to-Survive Companies Sidestep These Missteps.” I focused on two of the mistakes/missteps – fearing to frighten stakeholders and failing to involve employees – and commented on the other five. I also contributed my depressing judgment that pandemic planners need to plan to be islands of preparedness.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Framing vaccines, revisited: The “empathy” gambit

      by “Orac”

      Posted on “The ScienceBlogs Book Club,” October 7, 2008

      There has been a lot of discussion of Paul Offit’s new book, Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure –a thorough rebuttal of the claim that vaccinations cause autism. The discussion on “The ScienceBlogs Book Club” led to an offshoot, a post by “Orac” criticizing my view that vaccination proponents (including Dr. Offit) would be more effective if they practiced better risk communication. Orac is particularly angry at two positions I have taken: (1) that proponents would be wiser to acknowledge the few valid arguments and accurate factoids that vaccination critics use, rather than ignoring or disparaging them – that claiming to be 99% right works better than claiming to be 100% right; and (2) that proponents would be wiser to show more empathy for people who still worry about a possible vaccination/autism link – for example, by acknowledging that it was a setback in the fight against autism when the hypothesized connection between autism and thimerosal in vaccines turned out to be a blind alley. Orac doesn’t really seem to disagree with me that vaccination proponents should be more empathic, though he fervently disagrees with my example. As for acknowledging the other side’s good points, he agrees that that’s a good idea too – but he’s enraged that I don’t think proponents are doing it already. Some of the follow-up discussion of Orac’s post is off-topic, but much is worth reading. Orac later reposted his comment on his own blog, “Respectful Insolence,” where it attracted quite different comments.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • PR pro advice costs Tories $35K

      by Kelly Cryderman

      Published in the Calgary Herald, May 25, 2008

      I think reporter Kelly Cryderman set out to write an article on how the Alberta government was spending big bucks on a U.S. spin doctor. But she did her homework, and ended up with a good, short piece on the provincial government’s effort to learn how to be more responsive in its communications about oil sands controversies. Of course the headline writer stuck to the big bucks focus, missing the point (which Cryderman got) that outrage management isn’t identical with public relations.

      This file is located off this site.

    • Climate Risk Communication: TreeHugging Amidst The Outrage Industries

      by John Laumer

      Posted on the www.treehugger.com website, September 12, 2007

      As the name implies, TreeHugger is a green discussion board. John Laumer's thread in its “Business + Politics” section addresses environmentalists’ various frustrations at the communication challenges of global climate change, and applies some of what I have written about risk communication (and especially about precaution advocacy) to those frustrations. The comments at the bottom may also turn out interesting (or not – it’s too soon to tell).

      This file is located off this site.

    • Sandman says

      by Clay Boswell

      Published in ICIS Chemical Business, and on its website, September 3, 2007

      Clay Boswell started out wanting to write a “profile” for the chemical industry trade journal he works for, but the article turned out less a profile than a summary of the basics of risk communication, especially outrage management. It’s a good summary, I think. The original title was “Sandman says outrage is the key to community relations,” but I like how the piece got retitled on the website: “Sandman says.” Period.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Delay in cancer information tarnishes state Health Department image

      by Lorna Benson

      Broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio, June 22, 2007

      The Minnesota Department of Health withheld data on lung cancer deaths among taconite miners for over a year, so when the story finally came out in June 2007, people were predictably outraged. Health Department explanations that it was waiting to develop an action plan didn’t quell the storm, nor did critics take well to Commissioner Dianne Mandernach’s explanation that people would have been too likely to overreact if the department had released the data without a plan. Actually, as I tried to explain to reporter Lorna Benson in this follow-up story, people tend to overreact most when they find out the authorities have been keeping secrets. (See “When to Release Risk Information: Early – But Expect Criticism Anyway.”) Withholding urgently needed information, I told her, is unforgivable; withholding comparatively routine information is foolish, precisely because when it’s finally unearthed it will seem more pivotal than it really was. Mandernach’s apology wasn’t bad, I said, except for a pledge to “maintain” the department’s credibility and “preserve” its reputation; “restore” would have been a much better word to choose. (The audio isn’t available online; this links to the print version of the story posted by Minnesota Public Radio.)

      This file is located off this site.

    • If the Unexpected Happens … Who You Gonna Call?  Crisis Busters   If the Unexpected Happens …   (page 2)

      by Vanessa Burrow

      Published in The Age, “Business Day,” June 16, 2007, pp. 1, 6

      This article on crisis communication from Australia’s number one newspaper covers the basics of what author Vanessa Burrow calls “crisis communication” (in my terms it’s mostly outrage management). The article also includes a handful of brief Australia case studies, and a summary of my “tech specs” for forgiveness. I really enjoyed the cartoon. (The front-page version was originally in color.) Vanessa initially emailed me a list of seven questions; I answered the ones on the role of apology in crisis situations, on organizations’ preparedness for crises, and on how Australia’s AWB controversy might have played out if the company had shown contrition. I have posted the original questions and answers (“The Role of Apologizing in Crisis Situations, Organizational Preparedness for Reputational Crises, and How an Apology Might Have Affected Australia’s AWB Controversy”) on this website.

      These are Adobe Acrobat (pdf) files, (page 1 is 1.9 MB, page 2 is 1.4 MB) located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Managing Outrage and Crises: Dealing with Risk by Understanding Your Audience  

      by Cliona Reeves

      Published in Food Technology News (Guelph Food Technology Centre), June 2007

      Over the past year I have given a presentation and a seminar at the Guelph Food Technology Centre in Guelph, Ontario. This article by Cliona Reeves is adapted from bits and pieces of the two. It focuses on the distinction among precaution advocacy (high-hazard, low-outrage), outrage management (low-hazard, high-outrage), and crisis communication (high-hazard, high-outrage). I have written about this distinction myself, particularly in “Four Kinds of Risk Communication.” But this article adds value in that it’s a little more detailed, a little more current, and particularly focused on food examples. The “quotations” in the article are actually mostly paraphrases, but Cliona checked with me before publication and they do capture my meaning, if not always my exact words.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 953 kB, located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Introductory articles

    • Physician survey shows mixed views on pandemic risk

      by Lisa Schnirring

      Posted on the website of CIDRAP News (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, University of Minnesota), June 6, 2007

      This is a news report about a survey of European physicians, focusing on their estimates of the probability of a flu pandemic “in the next few years.” Slightly more than half thought it wasn’t very likely. The survey results were interpreted by the authors as indicating that the respondents weren’t as concerned as they ought to be. That might be true for all I know – but it’s not necessarily complacent to think a pandemic is inevitable sooner or later, while doubting that it’s imminent. In fact, I told the reporter, it’s a huge mistake to ground the case for pandemic preparedness in the hunch that it’s coming soon, rather than in the well-founded conviction that it’s coming. I expanded on this point in an email (Inevitable versus Imminent: Interpreting a Pandemic Attitude Survey) to the reporter.

      The title file is located off this site. My response is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • How much risk do you live with?

      by Chad Skelton

      Published in the Vancouver Sun, March 9, 2007

      Once a month or so I get interviewed for a newspaper article on risk perception. The articles all cover the same ground: “The scary risks aren’t necessarily the ones that kill you. Here are some stunning examples. And here’s why the experts say we’re so foolish.” I don’t usually bother to post these articles. But this one struck me as unusually well done. It also focuses a lot on a hypothesis that most such articles ignore: risk homeostasis – the notion that people want as much risk in their lives as they want, and therefore compensate for safety improvements by taking more risks. On the other hand, this article – like most – steadfastly ignores a point I made to the reporter (as I always do): It isn’t really foolish to consider “outrage factors” like voluntariness, morality, and trust relevant to how acceptable a risk is; it isn’t really sensible to ignore these factors and focus exclusively on mortality statistics.

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Introductory articles

    • When Worlds Collide: During Crises, Sandman Says, Politics and Government Are Separate Spheres  

      by Alan Crawford

      Published in Impact (Public Affairs Council), January 2007

      Despite its misleading title, this article by Alan Crawford deals with my views on the pros and cons of candor about embarrassing information. I argued that businesses should usually be aggressively candid, wallowing in apologies when they have messed up, because their most important audiences are attentive stakeholders who will find out anyway. Politicians, on the other hand, are often talking to the much more apathetic general public. Ignoring embarrassments sometimes works for them, so they get into bad habits that backfire when the public turns attentive.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 130 kB, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    2006–2005

    • The MMR vaccination and autism controversy in United Kingdom 1998–2005: Inevitable community outrage or a failure of risk communication?

      by David C. Burgess, Margaret A. Burgess, and Julie Leask

      Published in Vaccine, vol. 24, 2006, pp. 3921–3928

      This article assesses the controversy over whether the MMR vaccine might cause autism in terms of my list of outrage components, and offers some outrage-based recommendations for ways public health communicators could better address the controversy. Published in 2006, it is grounded in my 1993 book Responding to Community Outrage, and doesn’t reference any of my more recent writing on this website (on the vaccination/autism controversy or on outrage management generally). Nor, of course, does it reference recent developments in the controversy itself. A similar analysis of the mobile telephone controversy, written by Simon Chapman and published in 1997, is also on this website.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 506kB, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index    link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Asbestos Risk Politics  

      by Dave Johnson

      Published in ISHN Ezine (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News), December 4 and December 8, 2006

      Dave Johnson’s fascinating article on two quite different asbestos risk assessments produced by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration quotes me briefly on the risk communication implications of the story. When he sent me a draft for comment, Dave noted, “It’s got politics, greed, scandal, harassment, but no sex.” My complete response is also on this site.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 35 kB, located on this site.

    • Internet rumours of bird flu case in Rimouski, Que., are ‘totally untrue’

      by Helen Branswell

      Distributed by Canadian Press, November 29, 2006

      Helen Branswell’s story focuses on the pros and cons of alarmist rumors, especially those found on the website of Henry Niman, a favorite site for people obsessed with pandemic risk. Helen didn’t use what I thought was the best line I gave her, so here it is: “Before the Internet the problem was getting information. Now the problem is vetting information.”

      This file is located on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Risk Communication for Salmon Aquaculture   

      by Vivian Krause

      Submitted to the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, November 24, 2006

      After running across this website a year or so ago, Vivian Krause started corresponding with me about the risk communication implications of her various interests, including salmon farming and child adoption services. This PowerPoint presentation is her effort to persuade British Columbia legislators to take steps to manage people’s outrage over salmon farming, in addition to whatever they might decide to do to manage its environmental hazards. (You may also want to read the transcript   of Vivian's actual testimony.) It is always a pleasure to see people make use of my work with regard to issues I know nothing about – especially when they “get it” as thoroughly as Vivian does.

      In February 2010, Vivian posted a new piece on her website, also based largely on my work, entitled “Why Salmon Farming Pushes People’s Buttons.”

      This is a MicroSoft PowerPoint (.ppt) file , 3.6 MB, located on this site.
      The transcript ( 383kB) and 2010 article are located off site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Lessons from Ground Zero: Risk Communication  

      by Dave Johnson

      Published in ISHN Ezine (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News), September 21 and September 28, 2006

      Dave Johnson sent me an email asking for my views on Ground Zero risk communication, particularly the hot controversy over whether authorities were too lackadaisical about personal protective equipment for rescue and recovery workers. I published his email and my response (“Telling 9/11 emergency responders to wear their masks – and explaining later what went wrong”) in my Guestbook. Johnson’s two-part column, based in part on my response, lists seven risk communication lessons from Ground Zero for occupational health and safety professionals.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 35 kB, located on this site.

    • The Survivalist: How to Survive a Disaster

      by David Shenk

      Posted on Slate, September 5, 2006

      David Shenk has launched an eight-part series about disaster preparedness on Slate. The first part says some nice things about my website, and discusses the risk communication seesaw as a way of making his own preoccupation with catastrophe sound less paranoid.

      This file is located off this site.

    • Master of sorry management

      by Geoff Elliott

      Published in The Australian, May 20, 2006

      This is a postscript to the previous posting, which was a set of articles on my little corner of Australia’s AWB controversy. After publication of the “Draft Statement of Contrition” that AWB managers developed, based partly on my advice, a number of Australian newspapers and broadcast stations contacted me for interviews. They all wanted to ask about my work with AWB, so I declined to be interviewed. But Geoff Elliott said he’d stick to generic questions about what I normally advise companies who have attracted public outrage. So I talked to him. The resulting article is very short. But Elliott got my approach basically right. He even got right (not with my help) what virtually every other journalist on the story got wrong: that AWB’s draft statement was “an admission of moral responsibility, not an admission of guilt.”

      This file is located on this site.

    • The Australian AWB Oil-for-Food Kickback Controversy

      Various newspaper clippings, 2006

      In 2006, I was a peripheral part of a huge controversy in Australia over kickbacks allegedly paid to the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq through a company called AWB (formerly the Australian Wheat Board). AWB had asked (and not taken) my advice on how to handle the issue – and a government investigation made the advice public. The link is to a fuller explanation and to nine specific clips.

      This introductory file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Public Health and Risk Communication: A Brief Overview  

      by Roy Wadia

      Presented to a Chinese Government workshop on health and safety for the 2008 Winter Olympics, May 18, 2006

      Roy Wadia, then a communication specialist at the World Health Organization in Beijing, developed this Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation in an effort to explain some key risk communication principles to Chinese officials preparing to host the 2008 Olympics. He based the presentation mostly on “Four Kinds of Risk Communication” on the handouts for “Crisis Communication: Guidelines for Action,” and on “The Flu Pandemic Preparedness Snowball.” The slides are in both English and Chinese. I don’t know how the Chinese officials in Roy’s audience responded to his talk, but they did post his slides.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 1 MB, located on this site.

    • Skeptics warn bird flu fears are overblown

      by Rebecca Cook Dube

      Posted on MSNBC.com, April 20, 2006

      Subtitled “Chicken Little alert? Hysteria could sap money from worse health threats,” this article was part of an MSNBC package on pandemic flu. Reporter Rebecca Cook Dube warned me when she interviewed me that she was covering “the other side” — the people who claim the risk is overblown. My job was to represent the other side of the other side — to explain why a virus that has so far killed only a handful of people could nonetheless deserve to be taken seriously. I get awfully tired of this particular non sequitur; it’s as if somebody thought hurricane preparations were self-evidently pointless until the hurricane hit land and started claiming victims ... or self-evidently pointless so long as it remained debatable whether the hurricane would ever hit land at all. I tried to explain that people buy fire insurance not because they think it’s inevitable that their house will catch fire, and not because the fire is already raging, but because they think a fire is possible and could be devastating. Some of what I said about low-probability high-magnitude risks made it into the end of the story.

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Talking risk: avian flu advice from a risk communicator  

      by Carole Sugarman

      Published in Food Chemical News, March 27, 2006, p. 29. Copyright © 2006 by Agra Informa, Inc. Posted with permission. For more information, go to www.foodchemicalnews.com.

      Carole Sugarman of Food Chemical News interviewed me in March about how the poultry industry should talk about bird flu, as distinct from pandemic flu, and what I think industry spokespeople are doing wrong. I didn’t know the interview was actually published until a colleague sent me a copy in late April. Here it is. It’s a little incoherent. (I’d like to blame that on Carole’s note-taking, but it’s probably my burbling.) But the main points are clear enough, I think.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 35 kB, located on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Bird flu’s potential toll warrants alerts

      by Jeffrey P. Koplan

      Published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 17, 2006

      This op-ed by the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention argues that alerting people to the pandemic threat requires good risk communication. As his gold standard for good risk communication he cites principles I tried to urge on CDC during the anthrax attacks of 2001 (when he was its head) — pretty much the same principles covered in the crisis communication CD/DVD Jody Lanard and I produced a few years later. (The CD/DVD handouts are available on this site.) I had a couple of reactions to the op-ed that I sent to Jeff, and have posted excerpts from my email and his response.

      The article and excerpts are on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • The Bird Flu: How Much Fear Is Healthy?

      by Christine Gorman

      Posted on TIME.com, March 15, 2006

      Christine Gorman of Time has covered H5N1 since it appeared in Hong Kong in 1997. I figured our 15-minute telephone interview might turn into a paragraph in a roundup on the week’s bird flu news. Instead, she devoted this article to my views on the importance of warning people, of accepting that fear (not panic — that was her word) is the price of preparedness, of non-medical preparedness, of using survivors as volunteers, etc. It’s a short article that doesn’t say anything I haven’t said before. But it’s nice to see it on the Time website.

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Fear can play role in pandemic readiness, speaker says

      by Robert Roos

      Published on the website of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota, February 17, 2006

      This article summarizes a speech I gave at CIDRAP’s groundbreaking Minneapolis conference, “Business Planning for Pandemic Influenza: A National Summit.” It focuses on two of the main points I made: that if you want to persuade people to take precautions you need to be willing to frighten them; and that frightening people shouldn’t mean claiming that a severe 1918-like pandemic is inevitable. (The probability is extremely high of a pandemic of unknown magnitude, I said; the probability is unknown of a pandemic of extremely high magnitude.)

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • On Not Wanting to Know What Hurts You

      by Henry Fountain

      Published in The New York Times, January 15, 2006

      This article on diseases that kill people versus diseases that worry people concluded a New York Times series on diabetes. It’s a pretty decent quick summary of the hazard-versus-outrage basics, as applied to illness. One of the health psychology experts quoted seems to think a flu pandemic isn’t worth worrying about — but other than that it’s a good overview.

      The link above is to the article on this site. The original is available online at The New York Times website (requires registration).

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Staving Off Panic in a Flu Pandemic
      (Note: This link goes to an article off-site with a link to this MP3 audio file.)

      by Jon Hamilton

      Broadcast on “Morning Edition,” NPR (National Public Radio), January 10, 2006

      This is the second “Morning Edition” story by NPR’s Jon Hamilton that draws on his two-hour December 2005 interview with me and my wife and colleague Jody Lanard. This one uses other sources as well, and focuses on what governments should do to avoid fostering panic in (or before) a pandemic. Hamilton makes good use of our concept of “panic panic” — official fear that the public may be panicking when there is no evidence that it is doing so.

      The link takes you to an offsite written summary of Hamilton’s story, and to NPR’s link to the audio file.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • link goes to a page where you will find the MP3Sifting Through Official Speak on Bird Flu
      (Note: This link goes to an article off-site with a link to this MP3 audio file.)

      by Jon Hamilton

      Broadcast on “Morning Edition,” NPR (National Public Radio), December 28, 2005

      NPR’s Jon Hamilton came to New Jersey with a dozen audio clips of top U.S. officials talking about bird flu, and spent two hours going over the clips with me and my wife and colleague Jody Lanard. He put a little of what he got into an eight-minute story on what they’re doing right and what’s not so right in bird flu and pandemic risk communication. Jody and I think Hamilton did an excellent job of getting to some of the big issues: the need to find a balance between excessive fear and insufficient fear, the importance of getting the public involved rather than pretending the government will do it all, etc.

      The link takes you to an offsite written summary of Hamilton’s story, and to NPR’s link to the audio file.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Talking to the Public about a Pandemic: Some Applications of the WHO Outbreak Communication Guidelines  link is to a PDF file

      by Jody Lanard

      Published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, vol. 78, December 2005, pp. 369–376

      This article was adapted from a presentation my wife and colleague Jody Lanard gave at an October 21, 2005 symposium on “Ethical Aspects of Avian Influenza Pandemic Preparedness” at Yale University. It focuses chiefly on official opposition to Tamiflu stockpiling, official enthusiasm for vaccines and antivirals, and official reluctance to involve the public in pandemic planning.

      This Adobe Acrobat file link is to a PDF file (104kB) is located on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Are you a sitting duck for bird flu?

      by Anita Manning

      Published in USA Today [posted online at USATODAY.com December 6, 2005]

      This story on the flu pandemic precautions people are taking is more respectful than journalists usually are of the people on one end of the bell curve — those who are preparing strenuously for the worst case scenario, stockpiling medications, food, and even weapons. The story quotes me on the wisdom of taking at least some precautions, of not being on the opposite end of the bell curve – and then getting on with life. It also quotes me on the value of thinking through what a serious pandemic might be like, so as to be psychologically prepared as well.

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • The Fear Factor: Preparing the public for a major disaster like pandemic flu without inciting panic is tricky. But the truth goes a long way.

      by Nancy Shute

      Published in U.S. News and World Report, November 21, 2005; online November 13, 2005

      This is an excellent summary of the dilemma authorities face when trying to alert the public to the risk of pandemic flu — a risk that could be severe or mild, imminent or far into the future. Despite its title, the article does point out that the risk of inciting panic isn’t a major problem, although the (unjustified) fear of inciting panic is. It offers justified praise to the U.S. government and the World Health Organization for their increasing willingness to sound the alarm.

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Precaution Advocacy index   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Getting Workers to Wear PPE: Communication Is Key  

      by Jennifer Busick

      Published in Safety Compliance Letter, September 2005, pp. 7, 10

      Employees may resist wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) for all sorts of reasons: It’s uncomfortable; it interferes with productivity; it’s not the macho thing to do; management doesn’t really mean it; the safety person’s warnings sound a lot like my mother. This article discusses some of my ideas about how to be convincing in the face of these reasons.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 79 kB, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Precaution Advocacy index

    • When warnings become a scare

      by Gregory M. Lamb

      Published in The Christian Science Monitor, July 7, 2005

      This short news story deals with the controversy over how much to try to alarm the public about a possible flu pandemic. Predictably, I anchor the go-ahead-and-scare-them side of the debate.

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Most Canadians have taken note of the threat of a flu pandemic

      by Helen Branswell

      Distributed by Canadian Press, March 30, 2005

      Helen Branswell initially wrote to me for my comments on a survey of Canadian awareness of avian influenza, which showed higher awareness than I’d expected but also more skepticism. My complete response is on this site.

      This file is located off this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Scared Safe?

      by Dave Johnson

      Published in ISHN Ezine (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News), January 21, 2006

      This assessment of whether safety professionals should use fear appeals quotes me in favor.

      This file is located on this site.

    2004–2003

    • Psychological Barriers Getting in the Way of Pandemic Preparations: Experts

      by Helen Branswell

      Distributed by Canadian Press, November 20, 2004

      Helen Branswell initially wrote to me for my comments on the psychology of flu pandemic preparedness.

      My complete response (“Preparing People for a Flu Pandemic”) is on this site.

      This file is located on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Keeping the Barricades Away from Your Refinery Gate  

      by Tim Lloyd Wright

      Published in Hydrocarbon Processing, October 2004, p. 15

      Tim Lloyd Wright initially wrote to me for my comments on the oil price hike as a source of outrage.

      My complete response (“Coping with Outrage about Oil Price Hikes”) is on this site.

      The title link is to an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file, 154 kB, on this site. The publication link is to their site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Risk Management: Not Cleaning Up Your Act Can Be Costly

      by Duncan Wood

      Published in Treasury & Risk Management, September, 2004

      This overview of reputation management focuses on corporate reputation as an economic asset – and how to protect the asset.

      This file is located on this site.

    • Public Communications Regarding the Detection of Lead in Washington, D.C. Water

      by Jody Lanard, M.D.

      Testimony before the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, Oversight Hearing on the Detection of Lead in D.C. Drinking Water, April 7, 2004

      When a U.S. Senate committee decided to look at a lead-in-drinking-water controversy in Washington, D.C., it invited my wife and colleague Jody Lanard to speak. Her written testimony reviews some of our principles of crisis communication and outrage management, and applies them to the way Washington’s water utility was handling the finding of too much lead. The hearing itself can be viewed as streaming video on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee web site at http://epw.senate.gov/epwmultimedia/epw040704.ram. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s comments about Jody’s testimony (and about risk communication) start just after 2:02:00. Jody’s oral testimony starts at 2:35:24. Her Q&A starts at 2:50:20, and includes several of her favorite teaching examples.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Risk Communicator Says USDA Should Prepare Public for More BSE

      by Carole Sugarman

      Published in Food Chemical News, March 29, 2004

      This short trade journal piece reviews some of my suggestions and criticisms about USDA mad cow risk communication.

      This file is located on this site.

    • Scary Food News Has Us Exaggerating Actual Risks

      by Julie Davidow

      Published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 16, 2004

      This is a short overview of some of the usual risk perception and risk communication stuff, quoting some of the usual sources (including me).

      This file is located on this site.

    • Crisis Communications to the Public: A Missing Link

      Chapter 5C.6 of Learning from SARS — Renewal of Public Health in Canada: A Report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health (the “Naylor Report”), October 2003

      One small section of the official Canadian government report on the lessons of SARS addresses public communication – and leans predominantly on the “scathing” assessment of Sandman and Lanard.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Crisis Communication index   link to Pandemic/Infectious Diseases index

    • Fear Factory: Have the Media Overblown Canada’s Health Scares?

      by Jonathan Durbin

      Published in Maclean’s, June 9, 2003

      When a magazine article starts by asking whether the media have overblown a story – in this case, SARS – you can bet the answer is going to be yes. But the article does quote me (and some others) saying that SARS was serious and that if anything the media were over-reassuring – which paradoxically scared people all the more.

      This file is located on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • What next? Insanity?

      by Judy Gerstel

      Published in The Toronto Star, May 30, 2003

      This is an almost shockingly lighthearted piece on Toronto’s SARS epidemic. It starts out with a weird focus on the question of whether SARS is God’s punishment, but winds up making some fairly solid points.

      This file is located on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • SARS: How Singapore outmanaged the others

      by Alan Fung

      Published in Asia Times (Hong Kong), April 9, 2003

      I thought Singapore handled SARS risk communication a lot better than China, Hong Kong, or Canada. But I never expected to be explaining why in a Hong Kong newspaper.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic/Infectious Diseases index

    • Beyond Duct Tape

      by Dave Johnson

      Published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News), March 28, 2003

      Jody Lanard and I wrote “Duct Tape Risk Communication” to analyze the weird public response to the U.S. Government advice to stockpile duct tape for use against some kinds of terrorist attacks. Dave Johnson saw an analogy to the weird way employees sometimes respond to safety messaging, and went with it.

      This file is located off this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Precaution Advocacy index

    • Candour, not PR, will calm virus fears

      by Andy Ho

      Published in The Straits Times, Singapore, March 27, 2003

      Early in Singapore’s SARS epidemic, the country’s dominant English-language newspaper published this article on how two American risk communicators thought it should manage the crisis.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Pandemic/Infectious Diseases index

    • Weighing Your Risks of Becoming a Terror Victim

      by John Tierney

      Published in The New York Times Week in Review, March 23, 2003

      I’m quoted here on just one point, but it’s an important one: the need to get people accustomed to their fear of terrorism, to show them how to cope with that fear rather than trying to relieve them of it. (There, now you don’t have to read the article.)

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Crisis Communication index

    2002–2000

    • Managing Best Practices: Been there, done that?

      by Dan Markiewicz

      Published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News), November 27, 2002

      This short column endorses my advice to investigate “yellow flags” instead of ignoring them, and links that advice to the work of Abraham Maslow and Stephen Covey (good company).

      This file is located on this site.

    • Environmental & Safety Issues: Managing Risk

      by Nick Zingale

      Published in Industrial Heating, November 2002

      This file is located on this site.

      Based on a speech I gave, this short article summarizes my “Risk = Hazard + Outrage” formula and my six key strategies for managing outrage.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Teaching about terror

      by Robert Taylor

      Published in The BSCS Newsletter [Biological Sciences Curriculum Study], Fall 2002

      How should teachers talk to kids about terrorism? This short article has my views and the views of others.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Crisis Communication index

    • ConAgra lies low after recall

      by Greg Griffin

      Published in the Denver Post, Sunday, August 4, 2002

      I am one of the experts quoted in this brief article on a 2002 meat recall.

      This file is located on this site.

    • Vaccination Camp

      by Jody Lanard, M.D.

      Published in The Trenton Times, July 12, 2002

      I think this is my wife and colleague Jody Lanard’s first risk communication publication, a newspaper op-ed urging that people who want to be vaccinated against smallpox get sent to “vaccination camp.”

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Crisis Communication index   link to Pandemic and Other Infectious Diseases index

    • Risk = Hazard + Outrage  

      by Rolf Schmid

      Published in Zurich Risk Engineering’s magazine the linkbetween, Issue 33, Jan 2001

      Because of the insurance industry focus, this summary of my “Risk = Hazard + Outrage” formula picks up on some aspects that are usually ignored, such as the very different reasons why employees and employers can get outraged at efforts to improve corporate safety.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 248 kB, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • From the Director (presentation summary)

      by Dr. Catherine Ives

      Published in ABSP Linkages, the Newsletter of the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project based at Michigan State University, Third Quarter 2000

      Ag biotech leader Catherine Ives heard me speak at a biotechnology conference. Her short column summarizes my presentation and draws some conclusions for reducing people’s outrage at biotechnology.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Risk Communication and Education of OHS Professionals

      by Steven P. Levine, Ph.D., CIH2

      Published in Occupational Hazards, September 1, 2000

      In this short column Steve Levine argues that risk communication should be part of the industrial hygiene curriculum.

      This file is located on this site.

    • Chapter 11, “Media Campaigns” in Environmental Education & Communication for a Sustainable World  

      Edited by Brian A. Day and Martha C. Monroe

      Published by the Academy for Educational Development, 2000

      Brian Day was my graduate student before going on to do communications for Environmental Defense Fund, GreenCOM, and other environmental advocacy efforts. In this chapter from a book he co-edited with Martha Monroe, Brian outlines a persuasion theory I taught him back in the 1970s – an approach to precaution advocacy that uses both an information-based component and a need-based component.

      This is an Adobe Acrobat (pdf) file, 149 kB, located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Precaution Advocacy index

    • Sowing the Seeds of Suspicion

      by Paul Holmes

      Published in Reputation Management, May 2000

      I am one of several experts quoted in this analysis of what the food biotech industry has done wrong in its management of public outrage.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    1999–1995

    • Restocking the Shelves: Recovering from a Recall

      by Beth A. Auerswald

      Published in Food Quality, June/July, 1999

      This is a pretty good overview of various expert opinions (including mine) on how food companies should behave after a recall.

      File is on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Running risk of public outrage

      by Joanna Pitman

      Published in The London Times Business Section, June 1, 1999

      Though its news peg is my then-new “Outrage” software, this article is more an outrage management overview. I’ll love it forever for calling me “the Red Adair of the world of corporate reputations.”

      This file is located on this site.

    • Don’t Be Gun-Shy: PR Experts Advise the Gun Industry

      by Katherine Hobson

      Published at ABCNEWS.com from TheStreet.com, May 27, 1999

      In this short article on how the gun industry should cope with school shootings, I am predictably on the side of responsiveness.

      This file is located on this site.

    • We can work it out with Outrage

      by Duncan Graham-Rowe

      Published in New Scientist, May 1, 1999

      This extremely short squib on my “Outrage” software assumes that outrage management and spin doctoring are the same thing.

      This file is located on this site.

    • Risky Business: Spin doctors may be obsolete

      by Tim Radford

      Published in The Guardian, Saturday May 1, 1999

      This amusing take on my “Outrage” software begins with how Pharaoh should have handled his Moses problem.

      This file is located off this site.

    • Biotech’s bitter fruit

      by Ben Selinger

      Published in New Scientist, March 27, 1999

      Instead of criticizing the public for getting outraged about biotech, this short piece criticizes the industry for ignoring and mishandling the public’s outrage.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Coping with Chemical Outrage

      Published in CAREline® Global Responsible Care® News, Volume 16, 1999

      Nothing new here – but it’s convenient if you want my six principal outrage management strategies, my four stages of a risk controversy, and my twelve principal outrage components all in one spot.

      File is on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • PR Watch   Volume 6, #1, First Quarter 1999.

      This is an entire issue of the quarterly PR Watch, devoted to a variety of articles critiquing me and my approach to risk communication, nearly all of them by Bob Burton. PR Watch watchdogs the public relations industry from a generally left perspective; Bob Burton writes mostly about the mining industry from that perspective. Obviously, I don’t share the author’s and publisher’s view that helping corporate polluters listen better is a dangerous new sort of “greenwashing” manipulation. But the quotes are all accurate and the description of my positions is mostly on-target. (Corporate dinosaurs also tend to see my approach as dangerous; maybe the polarizers always detest the compromisers.) Anyway, who wouldn’t be flattered to be the subject of a whole magazine issue?

      The articles:

      • Flack Attack
      • Advice on Making Nice: Peter Sandman Plots to Make You a Winner
      • Some Clients of Peter Sandman
      • Chilling and Gassing with the Environmental Defense Fund
      • Community Advisory Panels: Corporate Cat Herding
      • Mad as Hell? This Program May Have Your Number
      • Packaging the Beast: A Public Relations Lesson in Type Casting

      Letters responding to the PR Watch issue:

      These files are located off this site.

      These articles are categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Do we care about the truth?

      by Nigel Hawkes

      Published in The Times (U.K.), February 19, 1999

      This op-ed complains about inaccurate media coverage of mad cow disease. It cites me to make the point that reporters cover both sides of controversies without worrying about which side is right.

      This file is located on this site.

    • The Dangers of Ignoring Public Ire

      by Tim Watts

      Published in Business Review Weekly, August 31, 1998

      This quick overview of my “Outrage” software was written for a business audience.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Copepodology for the ornithologist, or what BSE can tell us about RCD

      by R. H. Bradbury

      Paper presented to CSIRO Workshop on RCD and Rabbits, Canberra, 29 April 1997

      I don’t know anything about Rabbit Calcivirus Disease (RCD), which the Australian government apparently used in an effort to control its rabbit population. This article argues that the Australian government was making the same mistakes with regard to RCD that the British government had made with regard to BSE (mad cow disease) – and that these mistakes are best understood in terms of my work on the hazard-versus-outrage distinction.

      This file is located on this site.

    • Not in Our Back Yard

      by Simon Chapman Ph.D. and Sonia Wutzke BSc

      Published in Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 1997

      The authors did a qualitative content analysis of Australian media coverage of controversies over mobile telephone towers, searching for my various “outrage factors.” They found plenty of good examples to support their conclusion that the media pay more attention to outrage than to hazard.

      This file is located on this site.

      This article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

    • Our ‘Stolen Future’ and the Precautionary Principle

      by Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, 1996.

      Published in Priorities, American Council on Science and Health, vol 8., no. 3, 1996

      This short article by the President of the American Council on Science and Health criticizes the Precautionary Principle and a book on endocrine disruptors that invokes the Precautionary Principle. Then it segues to an off-topic criticism of an article I had coauthored that explained why people were outraged by Alar (a growth regulator that used to be sprayed on apples) even though it wasn’t very hazardous. Whelan takes umbrage at technical precautions against low-hazard, high-outrage risks. That’s not what I advocate; I push clients to try harder not to get people so upset about such risks in the first place. This is a common misunderstanding of my position, made in this case by an eminent policy advocate – which I guess justifies a gloss that’s almost as long as the part of the article where I’m criticized.

      This file is located off this site.

    • Notes from a class by Dr. Peter Sandman

      by Elenor Snow

      Posted originally on Elenor Snow’s personal website, 1995

      In 1993–1995, I had a contract with Westinghouse to do training and consulting in association with the company’s contract to manage the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (a key weapons manufacturing site during the cold war). Elenor Snow was then a technical editor at Hanford. She attended one of my seminars in September 1994, and later posted her notes on her personal website. Over the years, I got periodic referrals from Elenor’s website – and she became a website designer. So in 1999 when I decided to launch a website of my own, it was natural to ask for Elenor’s help. Almost a decade later, she is still my webmaster – and her “Notes from a class” is still a good summary of what I was telling people back in the 1990s about where outrage comes from and how to reduce it, particularly at a nuclear cleanup.

      This file is located on this site.

      The article is categorized as:   link to Outrage Management index

 

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Contact Information:   Peter M. Sandman

Mailing address:
9 Prospect Park W Apt 15A
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Email:  peter@psandman.com
Phone: (718) 208-6271
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