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Telling Your Nuclear Tale: New IAEA Stakeholder Involvement Webinar to Focus on Storytelling

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Clear, transparent and engaging communication can be a highly effective way to strengthen messages about nuclear power and reach broader audiences. In the next edition of the IAEA’s webinar series on stakeholder involvement, on 2 June 2020, global experts will discuss the power of storytelling in delivering key messages.

The quarterly series, launched in June 2019, is designed to assist national authorities and operating organizations in developing their stakeholder involvement programmes. The webinars are available to the public and feature communication experts sharing their experiences and answering questions from participants.

“We often talk about the power of storytelling to deliver key messages, which can be a more effective mode of communication than relying on the conveyance of complex technical information,” said Lisa Berthelot, an IAEA Stakeholder Involvement Officer and the webinar’s moderator. “These days, for example, communicators might be inspired to tell the story about how nuclear power can provide a stable supply of low carbon electricity around the clock, and how nuclear power plant workers are essential in maintaining a country’s energy infrastructure in a crisis.”

Explaining nuclear power, strengthening relationships and building trust with stakeholders is key to the successful implementation, operation and expansion of nuclear power programmes. That means engaging through two-way communication and public information approaches in a transparent way to address stakeholder interests and concerns.

Speaker Malcolm Grimston, a nuclear policy analyst at the UK’s Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology, will discuss the importance of understanding the target audience when developing messages. “The nuclear industry’s narrative is dominated by analysis, facts and theories, and this is attractive to people who focus on the big picture and pursue a deeper understanding of complex topics,” said Grimston. “But people who think like this make up a relatively small portion of the population, and most people are more likely to relate to a simpler message that appeals to common sense.”

Previous episodes in the webinar series have covered topics including the basics of stakeholder involvement, public surveys, public information centres and social media. The webinar series is supported through extrabudgetary support from the United States to the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative.

Emmanuel Wandera, a senior corporate affairs and communication officer at Kenya’s Nuclear Power and Energy Agency, has found the webinar series to be an ideal platform for knowledge sharing and learning how to optimize outreach strategies. “The webinar on utilizing public opinion surveys came at a time when I was in the process of conducting a survey in Kenya,” said Wandera. “Based on what I learned during the webinar, I was able to frame questions more effectively and get better responses from survey participants.”

The next webinar will also feature Dan Barczak, chief creative officer at Hyperquake, a US-based communication company, and Cora Blankendaal, a senior communication advisor at NRG, an internationally operating nuclear service provider based in the Netherlands. Registrations for the webinar can be made here.

“An important challenge and opportunity for the nuclear power community is to continuously work on defining and disseminating a strong nuclear narrative,” said Berthelot. “The IAEA helps countries build capacity in their stakeholder engagement efforts through activities including workshops, expert missions, webinars and publications.”

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