You are here

Risk Communication Resources

The Risk Communication team of FPDI has created several resources for the food and agriculture sector. This team was lead by Dr. Tim Sellnow of the University of Kentucky. More information on our Risk Communication projects can be found on our Risk Analysis research page.

Effective Instructional Risk and Crisis Communication: The IDEA Model

Advancing the Robust Case Study II: A Summary of Five Crisis Communication Case Studies Involving Food Events from 2010-2014

The case studies summarized in this document represent five incidents in the food industry that provide a learning opportunity for practitioners and communicators in the industry. Each case is summarized, the research method applied is described, and conclusions and lessons learned from each case are discussed. The goal is that those charged with communicating to stakeholder groups during a food related crisis will learn how to do so more effectively, ultimately mitigating harm and minimizing the damage done by the event. As the ultimate goal of the FPDI is to defend the food system at all levels and phases, this research also aims to reduce the potential for accidental contamination and attack through intentional contamination. 

Selected Publications

1. Anthony, K. E., Sellnow, T. L., & Millner, A. G. (2013). Message convergence as a message-centered approach to analyzing and improving risk communication. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 41, 346-364.

2. Benoit, W. L., (1995) Accounts, excuses and apologies. Albany, NY: State University Press.

3. Coombs, W. T. (2005). Crisis communication. In R. L. Heath (Ed.), Encyclopedia of public relations (Vol. 1, pp. 221-223).

4. Frisby, B. N., Sellnow, D. D., Lane, D. R., Veil, S. R., & Sellnow, T. L. (2013). Instruction in crisis situations: Targeting learning preferences and self-efficacy. Risk Management, 15, 250-271.

5. Frisby, B. N., Veil, S. R., & Sellnow, T. L. (2014). Instructional messages during health-related crises: Essential content for self-protection. Health Communication, 4, 347-354.

6. Graumann, A., Houston, T., Lawrimore, J., Levinson, D., Lott, N., McCown, S. et al. (2005). Hurricane Katrina: A climatological perspective. NOAA’s  National Climate Data Center, Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA/NESDIS. Retrieved from

7. Heath, R. L. (1997). Strategic issues management: Organizations and public policy challenges. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

8. Littlefield, R. S. (2013). Communicating risk and crisis communication to multiple publics. In A. J. Dubrin (Ed.), Handbook of research on crisis leadership in organizations (pp. 231-251). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.

9. Littlefield, R. S., Farrell, L. B., Beauchamp, K. A., & Rathnasinghe, S. (2012). Maintaining relationships with the public: Applications of relational dialectics theory in crisis situations. Paper submitted to Public Relations Division for presentation at the National Communication Association Convention, Orlando, FL.

10. Littlefield, R. S., Cowden, K., & Hueston, W. (2007). Crisis and Risk Communication: 10 Tips for public health professionals communicating with Native and New Americans. Fargo, ND: Institute for Regional Studies.

11. Palenchar, M. J., Heath, R. L., Orberton, E. M. (2005). Terrorism and industrial chemical production: A new era of risk communication. Communication Research Reports, 22(1), 59-67.

12. Perelman, C., & Olbrechts-Tyteca, L. (1971). The new rhetoric: A treatise on argumentation (2nd printing). (J. Wilkinson & P. Weaver, Trans.). Notre Dame, IN: University Press. (Original work published in 1958).

13. Perry, R. W., Lindell, M. K., & Greene, M. R. (1982). Crisis communications: Ethnic differentials in interpreting and acting on disaster warnings. Social Behavior and  Personality, 10, 97-104.

14. Sarbaugh, L. E. (1979). Intercultural communication. New Rochelle, NJ: Hayden Book Company, Inc.

15. Seeger, M. W., Sellnow, T. L., & Ulmer, R. R. (1998). Public relations and crisis communication: Organizing and chaos. In M. E.   Roloff (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 21 (pp. 231-275). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

16. Seeger, M. W., Sellnow, T. L., &  Ulmer, R. R. (2010). Expanding the parameters of crisis communication: From chaos to renewal. In R. L. Heath (Ed.), Public relations handbook (2nd ed.) (pp. 489-500). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

17. Seeger, M. W., Venette, S. J., Ulmer, R. R., & Sellnow, T. L. (2002). Media use, information seeking, and reported needs in post-crisis contexts. In B. S. Greenberg (Ed.), Communication and terrorism: Public and media response to 911 (pp. 53-64). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.

18. Sellnow, D. D., & Sellnow, T. L. (2014). Instructional principles, Risk Communication. In T. L. Thompson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health communication (pp. 1181-1182). Thousand  Oaks, CA: Sage.

19. Sellnow, T. L., Sellnow, D.D., Lane, D. R., Littlefield, R. S. (2012). The value of instructional communication in crisis situations: Restoring order to chaos. Risk Analysis, 32(4), 633-643.

20. Sellnow, D. D., Lane, D. R., Littlefield, R. S., Sellnow, T. L., Wilson, B.; Beauchamp, K., & Venette, S. J. (in press). A receiver based approach to effective instructional crisis communication. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management.

21. Sellnow, T. L., & Sellnow, D. D. (2010). The instructional dynamic of risk and crisis communication: Distinguishing instructional messages from dialogue. The Review of Communication, 10(2), 111-125).

22. Sellnow, T. L., & Sellnow, D. D. (2013). The role of instructional risk messages in communicating about food safety. Food Insight.  Retrieved from

23. Sellnow, T., & Sellnow, D. (2013, July). The role of instructional risk messages in communicating about food safety. Food Insight: Current Topics in Food Safety and Nutrition, International Food Information Council, p. 3.

24. Sellnow, T. L., Ulmer, R. R., Seeger, M. W., & Littlefield, R. S. (2009). Effective risk communication: A message-centered approach. New York, NY: Springer.

25. Spence, P. R., Lachlan, K. A., & Griffin, D. R. (2007). Crisis communication, race, and natural disasters. Journal of Black Studies, 37(4), 539-554.

26. Sutton, J., League, C., Sellnow, T. L., & Sellnow, D. D. (in press). Terse messaging and public health in the midst of natural disasters: The case of the Boulder floods.” Health Communication

27. Trainer, P., & Hutton, J. (1972). An approach to the differential distribution of deaths from disaster. Paper presented at Midwest Council on Social Research in Aging, Kansas City, KS..

28. Wickline, M., & Sellnow, T. L. (2013). Expanding the concept of significant choice through consideration of health literacy during crises. Health Promotion Practice, 14, 809-815.