Table of Contents
Human beings are known to always strive to survive in this world and as a result they are bound to encounter various risks. In this article the author tries to provide a concise summary of the evolvement and the current state of risk communication and come up with insights from years of risk communication research in places where numerous efforts have been made to build relationships between industry and area residents whose lives are affected, negatively and positively, by the hazardous manufacturing operations present. In the article the author tries to look at various ways to effectively carry out risk communication as a way of bringing together stakeholders and stake seekers, industry and area residents to mutually co-exist.(1)
Author's main arguments
The author argues that the magnitude and valence of a risk as well as when it occurs ,who/what it affects and how great the effects' magnitudes are matters that can be variously calculated by science .The author sees that the only way to manage this is to have risk communication, he says that this will provide the opportunity to understand and also appreciate stakeholders' concerns related to risks that are generated by organizations, engage in dialogue so that the differences and concerns are addressed and also help in carrying out appropriate actions that can reduce perceived risks and create a climate of participatory and effective discourse to reduce friction and increase mutuality and harmony.(2) The author goes ahead to say that there are three streams of thought that can be used to guide on how to calculate , evaluate , and control risks , these are; scientific positivism, whereby data and methodologies of scientist dominate community efforts to ascertain the degree of risk and subsequent communications about the risk on behalf of the community; constructivism/relativism , which assumes that everyone's opinion have equal value so that no opinion is better or worse than anyone else's and ; dialogue, that through collaborative decision making, scientific opinion becomes integrated into policies that are gauged by key public's values.
Research has found out that laypeople's risk ratings, unlike those of experts, are not simply influenced by fatality estimates , that differences in judgments were affected by numerous qualitative factors such as relationship to other risk bearers, familiarity, control, dread, acute, fatal, undetectable and artificial. These views are also aired by other authors.(3)
The author suggests that empowering the public with information will help assure compliance with existing laws and encourage companies to take additional measures to reduce industrial chemical releases.(4) The authors' advice is that all the disciplines should work in concert to bring to bear on risk perception and interpretation the best each has to offer. He argues that before any risk communication is carried out, a formative research is essential. This allows program planners to hear and learn from various stakeholders and stake seekers including local residents. The author also believes that both the content and the process of communication are vital in increasing awareness, positive behavioral intentions, positive attitudes and knowledge, but this should be followed with proactive dialogue, negotiated relationships and social identities. He further argues that for effective risk communication, there should be transparency of information failure of which breeds suspicion that an organization has something to hide.(5)
The author also argues that for risk communication to be effective, the source of the information and advice needs to have a satisfactory level of trust in the public's judgment. People tend to be less afraid of risks that come from sources they trust than from those they don't trust. He believes that no human action is inevitable and therefore preparations should be made for the uncertain basing on judgments but not probabilities so as to stay ahead of any eventualities.(6) The authors add that risk communication will not be effective if the role of narratives is neglected.
Narratives will be used to create, maintain and continue the interpretation and stabilization of the distribution of power in a society.
The author also sees that for an effective risk communication, there must be good public relations; they argue that each and every organization should strive to be moral, communicate to satisfy the interests of respective parties that strive to manage personal and public resources, make personal and sociopolitical decisions, and form strong and beneficial relationships. He further argues that a "bad" organization can not communicate well or effectively in the long ran and eventually either the falseness of the arguments made or the unethical ends to which the organization works and communicates will be its undoing.
The author suggests that organizations should demonstrate characteristics that foster legitimacy, such as being reflective; willing to consider and instrumentally advance others' interests; being collaborative in decision making; proactive and responsive to others' communication and opinion needs ; and working to meet or exceed the relationships management, including being a good corporate citizen.
On the issue of transparency, the author suggests that organizations should not keep information on how they operate from the public, I see this as wrong because there is some information that is very vital and holds the organization's secretes and thus can not be let to the public that can not be wholly trusted
In this article, the author has clearly brought out the definitions of key words starting with the first and main term which is risk communication; This is a means to open, responsible, informed, reasonable, scientific and value-laden discussion of risks associated with personal health and safety practices involved in living and working in close proximity to harmful and toxic substances.(7) Transparency; this is the active participation in acquiring, distributing and creating knowledge with stakeholders and stake seekers for effective relationships. Uncertainty; this is the perceived lack of information, knowledge, beliefs and feelings necessary for accomplishing organizational tasks. Narratives; these are discussions as shared meaning made public through voices in unified competition.(8)
The author has gone in length to outline various efforts aimed at fostering effective risk communication but has not clearly talked about the issue of how the residents will obtain, asses and draw consensual conclusions about technical information which is usually hard to come by, this does not in any way mean that now these people should lose their sense of apprehension about risks .It should also be important to note that communication objectives are not only meant to gain support for the risk generating organization or raise the concerns of community residents and other parties involved , but rather bring about constructive dialogue that will solve issues at hand.
Risk communication is not just about informed understanding, but the quality of the social relationship it supports. It is a tool for communicating values and identities as much as the awareness, attitudes and behaviors that are related to the risk itself. On the other hand risk communication can impact negatively on some people if not carefully dealt with. It can be used to propagandize and promote a bad industry not communicating well to the parties involved.
This same risk communication can be seen as a means to increase awareness and understanding of emergency response measures to heighten but not reduce appropriate levels of vigilance of the risks being born by risk bearers in the community, and can also work to adjust behavioral intentions that might cause negative health and safety consequences. All in all risk communication and public relations can greatly help make society more safe and functional.(9)
Through this article, the author has greatly helped remove those negative perceptions that stakeholders and stake seekers, industries and area residents and other parties, have held against each other. This article shows them that through a good and effective risk communication system they can mutually co-exist.
Through this article, one sees that risks are bound to occur as humans strive to sustain themselves with the evolving world and therefore a balance must be created to help people make sound judgments within the community of interest. They should be helped to draw conclusions that are beneficial to their well being .The paper highlights that communication objectives are not just to gain additional support for the risk generating organizations or look at the concerns of community residents, individuals and parties, but rather a constructive dialogue that legitimately addresses risk assessment, abatement, policy and communication. It can also be seen that risk communication is not just about informed understanding, but the quality of the social relationship it supports.
The worst that risk communication can do is when it is used to propagandize and promote a bad industry that is not communicating well, but when used well, it can create awareness and understanding of emergency response measures, heighten and not reduce appropriate levels of vigilance of the risks being born by the community and look for ways to adjust and correct their effects. This therefore clearly shows that good public relations and risk communication will greatly help make society function fully and better. (10)
 Palenchar M and Heath, R. Strategic risk communication: Adding value to Society Public Relation Review, 121
 Adair, J. Effective communication: The Most Important Management Skill of all. New York, John Willy.
 Ibid, 122
 Ibid, 124
 Ibid, 125
 Ibid, 121
 Ibid, 126
 Ibid, 127