Inaugural ICRC conference

Attendees and participants in the 2011 International Crisis and Risk Communication conference included those who had traveled from Korea, the UK, and from all over the USA. They included scholars, researchers, graduate students, professionals, public sector leaders, defense and military authorities, top managers of major businesses and government agencies. One of the most significant aspects of this conference was the integration of academic/scholars with professional practitioners.

Some of the highlights included:

•Jay Bernhardt, Ph.D., MPH, Department Chair, Professor of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida, Former Director of the National Center for Health Marketing, CDC and Carl Taylor, JD. Assistant Dean, College of Medicine/Director Center for Strategic Health Innovation, University of South Alabama led a dynamic discussion of the emerging area of health communication and the revolutionary role that social media plays and will play in the next public health crisis. Dr. Bernhardt also reached out to try to connect with NSC faculty to collaborate on some funded health communication research projects!

•Michael Doble, Director of Strategic Communications, Raytheon Company; Michael Griffin, Vice President, Communications, Walt Disney World; Ann Cline, Manager, Emergency Response, AirTran (Southwest) Airways; Cynthia Martinez, Manager, Corporate Communications, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; and Marc Ladin, Vice President, Everbridge led an insightful discussions of critical organizational communication functions, processes, and challenges during crisis situations, disasters, and emergencies.

•Kevin C. Thomas, M.B.A., Ph.D., Director, Master of Science in Healthcare Emergency Management Program, Boston University presented the results of his psychometric, behavioral, neurophysiological research into cognitive information processing of persuasive messages during high critical contexts. He also offered useful information for teams, group communication, and decision making communication insights.

•John “Pat” Philbin, Ph.D., APR, Former Director, External Affairs, U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency gave attendees a unique insight into the public communication functions of the Federal Government and particularly of interest his experiences with public affairs work for FEMA.

•Nationally prominent Public Relations professionals Chris Battle, Partner, Adfero Group, Justine Griffin, Senior Vice President, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications Inc. and Steve Radick, Lead Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton provided a state of the art “behind the scenes” look at the emerging trends and uses of social media for public relations worldwide.

•Neil Chapman, Former Director of Public Affairs, BP (British Petroleum) and Gerald Baron, Executive Vice President, Communications, O’Brien’s Response Management which represented the oil industry during the Gulf Oil spill last year gave a rare glimpse into the strategies, choices, and yes even mistakes made in communicating to the media, government, and public during the gulf oil disaster.

•Jay Alan, Deputy Director, Communications, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, State of California; Linda O’Brien, Commander (Retired), Miami-Dade Police Dept. Media Relations Bureau; as well as Dr. Subervi provided insightful discussion of intercultural communication issues, particularly among non-native English speaking communities.

•Two world famous scholars for Brand Marketing, Corporate Reputation, and Business Ethics (the cost of scandals) presented exciting and valuable research on the importance of image, transparency, communication, and honesty (O.C. Ferrell, Ph.D., University of New Mexico and Linda Ferrell, Ph.D., University of New Mexico).

•Leading scholars shared the results of their social scientific research into aspects of crisis and risk communication including insightful studies conducted and presented by Maureen Taylor, Ph.D.; University of Oklahoma, Robert Heath, Ph.D., University of Houston; Michael Palenchar, Ph.D. University of Tennessee; Steve Collins, Ph.D. NSC UCF; and Federico Subervi, Ph.D. Texas State University. NSC Professor of Public Relations Dr. Tim Coombs offered the initial keynote address for the conference which set an exceptional tone and agenda for the two day event.

Other presenters represented diverse areas related to crisis and risk communication including the areas of Electronic Media (on-line); Broadcasting (RTV); Journalism; Emergency Management; News Media; “new media vs. old media;” and other areas.

This successful event will create positive reputational echoes for NSC and UCF in both professional and scholarly circles around the world.

UCF is hosting a second annual ICRC conference March 5-7, 2012.

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