Guidance on Developing Effective Radiological Risk Communication Messages: Effective Message Mapping and Risk Communication with the Public in Nuclear Plant Emergency Planning Zones (NUREG/CR-7033)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: June 2010
Date Published: February 2011

Prepared by:
V.T. Covello

Center for Risk Communication
415 East 5 2 nd Street, Suite 3DA
New York, NY 10022

P.A. Milligan, NRC Technical Lead
A.M. Stang, NRC Project Manager

NRC Job Code R3138

Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

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This document provides guidance for nuclear power plant licensees and local response organizations on message development for radiological emergencies. Message development skills are critical to successful radiological risk communication to the public, the media, and other stakeholders. Message development skills are particularly critical to successful emergency communications with those living in close proximity to a nuclear power plant.

This document contains principles, strategies, and tools for producing messages before, during, and after a radiological emergency that are understandable, timely, accurate, consistent, and credible. The document contains nearly 400 questions the public and media may ask during a radiological emergency.

The document describes one of the most important tools for message development: the message map. Message maps are used by a large number of public and private sector organizations. Message maps are risk communication tools used to help organize complex information and make it easier to express current knowledge.

Message mapping is a science-based message development process by which users can:

  • anticipate questions of stakeholders (interested, affected, or influential parties) before they are raised;
  • decide what questions they want or need to answer and what questions should be answered by other organizations;
  • develop responses to stakeholder questions in a clear, concise, and accessible format;
  • promote dialogue about messages both inside and outside the organization;
  • provide spokespersons with a user-friendly guide to a set of vetted organizational messages;
  • ensure the organization has consistent messages;
  • ensure the organization speaks with a single voice or with many voices in harmony.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, March 24, 2021