Lastest Column in BC Business

BC Business

Chris-Yakimov-web_1I am writing a monthly column for BC Business, here is the latest one on the secret to successful risk communications.


“When it comes to public opinion, there’s a common belief among companies and their communication teams that providing facts is the best way to sell your side of the story. The more information, the more likely the public will be on side, right? Wrong.

Look at high-profile examples across B.C. such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project or Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project. Despite an overwhelming amount of information provided by these companies and their armies of PR people, these proposed developments have become textbook examples of how not to try to achieve social licence to operate.

Despite these companies’ assurances their projects will create jobs, are safe and respect the environment, the public continues to see the benefits as small and the risks unacceptably high. In fact, the B.C. government recently said it couldn’t support Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project because the company isn’t offering enough details around how it would respond to a potential spill.

It’s not that information doesn’t matter. Society is structured around the use of information to back arguments and make decisions. However, a growing body of research on how people develop perceptions of risk shows that information alone does not change people’s fears and concerns about what is risky. Emotions play a huge part.”

You can read then entire article here: Why Facts Don’t Change Minds by James Hoggan.

Image credit: Chris Yakimov on Flickr

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