LSU Reveals Keys to Successful Crisis Communication

Government officials and media representatives help form a “best practices” list for effective communication during extreme weather events.

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana experiences extreme weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, flood, drought and even freezes. With rising temperatures, extreme events may occur more frequently and with greater intensity in the future. It is essential that valuable information about these events is communicated to decision-makers and the public to protect life and property.
A new study led by LSU researchers and funded by Louisiana Sea Grant has compiled best practices for effective communication during extreme weather events.
The project was designed to study the communication of information about extreme events, including hurricanes and floods, in coastal communities in Louisiana.
“South Louisiana has been hit by so many weather crises in the past several years,” said LSU Department of Communication Studies Professor and project Principal Investigator Renee Edwards. “It is important to understand the challenges faced by experts who communicate information to the public and to decision-makers.”
Hours of in-depth interviews with emergency managers and media representatives from parishes south of Interstates 10 and 12 were used to identify best practices. Topping the list are to: consider the perspectives of audience members, promote interaction especially face-to-face when possible, build trust and communicate using a combination of social media and traditional media.
These practices can help to address common communication challenges.
“Audience members have unrealistic expectations and each parish has a unique geography and population,” said LSU Manship School of Mass Communication Associate Professor and team member Judith Sylvester.
Experts often lack face-to-face interaction and misinformation spreads via social media at a rapid pace.
The team created a brochure, white papers and podcast episodes interviewing local experts, which is available at
Edwards leads the study titled “Communicating Climate Tools to Coastal Stakeholders (CCTCS).”  The in-depth interviews of coastal Louisiana experts were conducted in 2019. The study was designed to create more effective communication among emergency managers, media representatives and ultimately the public. The findings were presented on Thursday, July 21, at a lunch meeting of the National Weather Service New Orleans Integrated Warning Team at the St. Tammany Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Covington.
Co-investigators for the project include Sylvester, LSU Department of Geography & Anthropology Professor and Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Keim and LSU Department of Geography & Anthropology Assistant Professor Alex Haberlie.
About NWS New Orleans Integrated Warning Team
Coordinated by the National Weather Service (NWS), Integrated Warning Teams bring together emergency managers, broadcast and print media, government officials, and the National Weather Service to find the best ways to communicate a consistent warning message during extreme weather events.
About Louisiana Sea Grant
Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG), based at Louisiana State University, is one of 34 national Sea Grant programs administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Sea Grant programs work to address major marine and coastal challenges. In a 2019 performance review conducted by the National Sea Grant Office/NOAA, LSG was rated as “highest performance: exceeds expectations by an exceptional margin in most areas/aspects.”
About the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences
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Contact Sarah Gaar Keller
LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations