Risk Communications

The success of products depends on more than cost and quality. Safety is essential.

And products must not only be safe.

They must be seen to be safe.

That’s the job of Risk Communications.

Are You Managing Risk Effectively?

A “risk” is something that can go wrong. So you may think “risk communications” is mostly about responding to events – a crash, a poisoning, a recall – that suddenly change perceptions of a product’s safety. But that’s “crisis communications,” where the goal is simply to stop the bleeding and survive. It’s the hospital emergency room of communications, not a place you want to be.

It’s good to know the ER is there if you need it, but you hope to never need it. And smart executives do more than hope. They engage our Risk Communications practice.


Everyone knows the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That nugget of wisdom is the core of what we do.

Risk perceptions are the product of three principal factors:

  • Information, including science, statistics, news media, and social media
  • Politics, including governments, activist groups, corporations, and public opinion
  • Psychology, both social and cognitive

None of these factors works in isolation. They interact, each shaping the others. Out of these complex and constantly evolving relationships, risk perceptions are formed.

With so many factors at work, it is seldom the case that consumers’ perception of a product’s safety shifts instantly from “safe” to “unsafe” as the result of some unforeseeable event. Change typically happens more slowly. That makes prevention possible. Here’s how we do it at Tactix:

The first step is to identify the factors that matter. This is followed by an exploration of how each could change. Then we map possible futures, anticipating what could go wrong.

With map in hand, we know what to watch for. Careful monitoring begins. Along with screening of developments in science, politics, and news, Tactix deploys an AI tool that scans social media and flags trends, delivering a finer, real-time sense of what people are saying.

The goal is to spot significant changes even before they appear significant. As physicians know, early detection means early intervention and healthy patients that stay healthy.

Of course, all this happens in a market context, so a competitive analysis must inform every decision.


Even a healthy person who exercises, eats right, and sees a doctor now and then may still get sick. When that happens, the essential first step is an accurate diagnosis.

Which factors are involved?
How do they interact to product risk perceptions?
How might these interactions evolve? What is the greatest vulnerability?

With so many factors in play, this analysis requires the expertise in multiple subjects and deft judgment possessed by TACTIX’ Risk Communications team.

Following the diagnosis comes treatment.

This could involve identifying and working with key influencers, correcting the media, making the case on social media, and many other approaches depending on the particular circumstances of a case. But in every treatment, the language matters. Getting the right words and images to the right people at the right time is how we change minds – and restore a patient to health.

This is the work of Risk Communications. With decades of experience and a record of success, the team at TACTIX is ready and able to safeguard your product’s success.

Do you want to manage your risk more effectively?
Call us at 613.566.7053.

Meet the TACTIX Risk Communication Team

No other team has both the expertise and depth of experience TACTIX brings together to effectively manage risk communications. Here you will find people who not only understand government and regulation, communications and media, but also the psychology that drives people to act, change their opinions, or move to or away from something.

Dan Duguay brings proven technical and engineering expertise to TACTIX’ Risk Practice. Having spent 14 years in the federal public sector in a range of program, innovation, economic development, R&D management and regulatory roles, Dan provides broad technological knowledge of a wide range of sectors and the regulatory systems that govern them, including chemicals, semiconductors and nanotechnology manufacturing, energy, medical device development and information and communications (ICT) and wireless spectrum technology.

For two decades, Howard Mains has been instrumental in product defense mandates that have involved animal welfare, GMO technology, micro-beads, silicone breast implants, PCBs, and a host of complex, high-profile chemicals used in many products.

Jill Fairbrother has spent her career helping leaders and brand managers with stakeholder engagement, media relations, issues management and risk communications involving heavily-regulated products.

Paul Hillier was formerly a target audience analyst for a psychological operations company of the Canadian Forces. He brings a unique skillset to diagnosing vulnerabilities and helping to mitigate and manage risks with the potential to damage reputation and adversely affect business.

Michael Ferrabee is a Leadership Advocacy strategist who has been called “one of Canada’s best” leadership thinkers and facilitators.