Futureye Real solutions to real dilemmas

Understanding "Outrage"

People will often feel upset or angry about the impact a project or business is having on them. These responses are based on the emotional side of the matter, not just the technical or factual aspects.

Unlike experts, who analyse risk from a technical or “hazard” standpoint, individuals look at non-technical factors such as trust and fairness, and whether the risk is natural or industrial to determine how they will be affected. These are the factors that generate emotional response.

World renowned risk communications expert and Futureye associate Dr Peter Sandman calls this emotional aspect of risk “outrage”.

It is common for businesses to ignore outrage and focus solely on communicating the technical issues surrounding a project with the community. In today's stakeholder-driven world, this is a very high risk approach.

The reason a 'hazard-only' approach is dangerous is rather than ease the community’s concerns, this approach actually increases outrage as people feel as though their concerns are not being heard or addressed.

It is actually outrage that contributes to your reputational and regulatory risk. Left unabated, community anger and outrage can force politicians and regulators to take action, resulting in policy changes that negatively affect the business or project.

Addressing Outrage      

Managing outrage is about calming any anger surrounding a particular issue to enable a more rational discussion about the facts and peoples' expectations.

This is done by putting aside the technical components of an issue until the emotional sides have been addressed.

The techniques required for dealing with outrage are very different to those needed for traditional public relations.

Businesses need to understand the concerns of the community and address any underlying issues that have the potential to fuel outrage in the future.

A large part of outrage mitigation is therefore about listening and acknowledging the views of a small group of highly involved stakeholders.

Futureye has over a decade of experience in helping our clients manage outrage and reduce their political, regulatory and reputation risks. Click here to find out more about our outrage management services.