“Don’t be defensive or use intense language when addressing extremists concerns,” advised Monique Mitchell-Turner, PhD, director of the Center for Risk Communication Research at the University of Maryland. Turner is a nationally recognized risk-communication expert, and she spoke at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 7th industry-wide Stakeholders Summit, held April 8, in Arlington, Va.

Turner's presentation addressed how to diffuse inflammatory rhetoric about animal agriculture from outside sources.

She discussed the importance of building trust with the audience and outlined techniques for achieving that goal. She emphasized how a perceived hazard and outrage combine to create the risk level that a person feels.

“A high level of outrage can occur over an incident even when the actual risk from the incident is relatively low,” said Turner. “Successful outrage management is especially important in these situations to avoid panic and overreaction."

Acknowledging that there are two sides to an issue can be a particularly effective technique. “Those typse of messages are more credible and can be used to reduce people’s susceptibility to fear and hype,” she added.

“Effectively managing inflammatory rhetoric is becoming increasingly important for food-chain companies,” said Kay Johnson-Smith, executive vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance.

The 7th annual Stakeholders Summit -- Animal Welfare: Building Bridges Across the Food Chain -- was held April 8-9, in Arlington, Va. It included about 140 mid- and high-level, global food-chain participants.

Source: Animal Agriculture Alliance