3. An integrated communication plan with descriptions of research projects in lay terminology, spokespersons, and a phone tree
“The IACUC Chair and members can interact with institutional public information officers, researchers, veterinarians, technicians and the research administration to identify spokespersons to address animal research issues. These spokespersons should be provided adequate training. Fact sheets should be readily available about the institution’s policies and commitment to humane and appropriate animal care and use, the quality of its animal care and use program (including accreditation), and brief summaries of the value and importance of any specific animal use under scrutiny. Written materials need to be written in language understandable to nonscientists. Institutions must be prepared to respond to allegations honestly…”
>> More in the ARENA/OLAW Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Guidebook Section B.6.a
A phone tree should be implemented in order to quickly mobilize the individuals and entities needed to respond to an unexpected event. A phone tree is a pyramid-shaped system where each person calls between one to five other people in case of an emergency. Reliable volunteers are located towards the top of the tree, as they have to call the largest numbers of people. A phone tree for crises might include: institutional leaders, communications officers, animal program leaders, local law enforcement, etc.
Communicating with the public in plain language and in a timely fashion takes preparation and practice. There are a variety of resources that can help institutions and investigators hone their skills and identify key information, including:
- OLAW’s Disaster Planning and Response Resources site includes articles, lessons learned, and other resources in crisis management planning.
- The NIH Office of Communication and Public Liaison (NIH OCPL) houses a network of Public Information Officers to support communications at grantee institutions.
- The NIH Plain Language Training Module provides information for scientists on preparing documents to communicate with the public.
- Many professional organizations offer resources or assistance to support scientific communications. Check with professional organizations of which you are a member.