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Crisis Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) Principles


Crisis Risk Communication (Aka: How not to incite angry mobs.)


Be First

Prevent the spread of disinformation and rumors. Put out a message quickly regard- ing what has happened, what might be next, and what can be done. People tend to believe the first message they hear—make sure it’s not a falsehood!


Be Right

If you do not know the answer to a question—say so. There is no faster way to lose trust and credibility than being wrong. Include what is known, what is not known, and what is being done to fill in the gaps.


Be Credible

Honesty should not be compromised. Say what has happened and what needs to be done. Do not sugarcoat what is going on. Do not make promis- es you may not be able to keep.


Express Empathy

Sympathy: I am so sorry that this happened to you!

Empathy: I can understand why you feel that way; this is a scary situation.

Sympathy: Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.

Empathy: I understand the priority right now is to keep your family safe, and we are doing all we can to make sure of that.


Promote Action

When people do things, it restores a sense of control and reduces anxiety. They can believe they are working towards the end of the disaster and that progress is not being made. Inac- tivity brings about powerlessness.


Show Respect

This is important when people feel vulnerable since it can restore a sense of worth and control. Also builds rap- port. Not showing respect, especially to community leaders, is a quick way to lose credibility, which is dangerous if people turn to figures who spout misinformation.

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