CDC Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Best Practices Study
In communication research, “messages” is a specialized term and does not imply only “official” communication. Messages can be from any source and circulate through different channels.
There is an extensive literature on the characteristics that make crisis and emergency risk communication messages effective. Experts have labeled these characteristics available to the public were consistent with these “best practices”. “Best practices” were identified by an expert panel that reviewed and synthesized a range of publications on emergency and crisis communication, and reached consensus on six crisis and emergency risk messaging best practices. These six best practices are: explain what is known, explain what is not known, explain how or why the event happened, promote action, express empathy, and express commitment. The proportion estimates for these six different crisis and emergency risk message best practices were calculated.
Staff analyzed and coded 186 foodborne outbreak event stories and 184 natural disaster event stories (Total N=370) for the presence or absence of the six best practices in crisis and emergency risk communication. Coders achieved an 89% inter-coder agreement level using the Holsti formula, and a Cohen’s Kappa of 0.71 was calculated, indicating substantial agreement. Frequencies of crisis and emergency risk message best practices were counted. The frequency of messages exemplifying one of the six best practices divided by the total number of stories yielded proportions of messages that conformed to one of the six best practices.