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Risk Communications

How do we communicate on risk?

Every day we’re bombarded with demands for our attention – with the sheer volume of information often overwhelming us. How then do communicators make sure what they say and do gets noticed, and acted upon – especially when the stakes are high? The answer lies in part by drawing on the behavioral sciences – and how we can work with the grain of how people weigh up evidence and make decisions.

At Finsbury Glover Hering in partnership with The Cognition Company – set up by a founder of the UK Government’s ‘Nudge Unit’ – we conducted research in the U.S. and UK looking at how organizations should communicate on risk.

Whether we were seeking support for a transaction, spearheading a change and transformation program, or managing a crisis, the scenarios in our research point to more effective ways to communicate:

  • What points of view people are willing to accept, or likely to reject, is determined by the beliefs and emotions they bring to the table

  • Time and energy in communications is often spent wordsmithing what an organization says, but the messenger plays an outsized role in determining whether that message is believed

  • What we believe and do is heavily influenced by those around us, and what we feel others expect of us – decision-making is social, not individual



Graeme Trayner, Partner, Washington, DC
Owain Service, CEO, Cognition Company
Katie Cissel, Partner, Washington, DC
Eugene Malthouse, Senior Researcher, Cognition Company
Umar Taj, Director of Behavioural Decision-Making, Cognition Company