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Earning Credibility in the Community

Clear communications policies help nuclear professionals establish credibility. When professionals know their roles and responsibilities for presenting information to the public, they can begin consistent and recurrent dialogues with stakeholders. This interaction builds confidence in their skills, intentions and motivations.

Credibility must be earned because it is based on perceptions. Trustworthiness and goodwill are two related, but somewhat different, factors of credibility. These factors cannot be achieved overnight since they are not determined by events or issues. The concept of credibility is closely tied to concerns for ethics, rationality, responsibility, professionalism and competence. A communications programme itself cannot build public acceptance. Tangible evidence of two-way, thoughtful interactions supports genuine, long-term education. It sustains relationships, mutual respect, understanding and rapport within the cultural context in which a facility operates or seeks to operate.

Recognizing Communication Science

In the last 40 years, a rich academic foundation about communication theory has evolved. Communication has become a specialized field with trained professionals who can work in consultation with nuclear experts. From organizational behaviour to media relations, the range of communication specialties includes sociology, economics and psychology. Background on the ways people convey meaning provides value to all aspects of a nuclear programme – from levels of safety to the environment in which nuclear professionals build trust among their most important constituents: political authorities, the media and the public.

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