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Developing Trust as a Communication Principle

Operators, regulators, government officials and researchers in the nuclear field see how public confidence influences their communication. Public interaction can support the credibility of official statements and actions. To achieve this, trust building needs to be an important part of a comprehensive stakeholder communication strategy.

Timeliness is another critical factor to build trust. It is crucial to recognise and respond to concerns expressed by stakeholder audiences. Quick, open responses should be delivered using simple, easy-to-understand language.

Five factors influence the ability of nuclear communicators to address controversial issues and build trust:

  1. Always provide correct information. Consider carefully what is the right amount of detail. Audiences often look to answer their specific questions rather than to understand everything related to a topic.
  2. A well-designed communication plan should be developed, maintained and implemented at the executive level. This includes clearly defined communications roles for members of the organization and the ability to provide timely responses to any and all situations that could arise.
  3. Simple and straightforward terms must be used. Difficult technical terms and insider jargon can distract from important ideas.
  4. Set clear expectations. Communication may invite controversy. It involves managing risk associated with the high emotions some people have toward the issues related to nuclear power generation, decommissioning or waste disposal.
  5. Evaluate how well different communication methods perform. Reflection on how stakeholders respond to outreach activities can guide future communications. Listening to critique helps to better meet the audiences’ needs for critical and timely information.

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