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Putting the First Audience First: Conducting Useful Evaluation for a Risk‐Related Government Agency

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The risk communication practitioner in a government agency has two essential, interdependent tasks. One is to help develop and monitor effective communication programs with various external public audiences. The other task is to do the same thing for the senior government managers whose support is a prerequisite to addressing the first audience. Hence, the second audience–the manager–is really the first. This paper addresses ways in which communication practitioners can satisfy this crucial audience. A profile of these managers suggests that they would find it highly beneficial to have more control over the public problems they encounter, especially in view of the growing pressures to do more with less and demonstrate “customer satisfaction.” They would rather avoid crises than manage them. And they would rather have their bosses praise their successes than challenge their budgets or punish their perceived difficulties or failures. Communication practitioners who can help them attain such benefits will find their efforts in great demand. They would be helpful team members who provide timely insights that can make and show agency success. We offer ten ways for communication practitioners to be more useful which focus their current strengths on satisfying senior managers’needs by becoming more valuable members of the program team. By becoming more useful to the senior manager they serve both the agency and its publics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Visiting Associate Professor, Marketing, Prevention Research Center, University of Illinois-Chicago. 2: Director, Nutrition Marketing and Education, Food and Consumer Service U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Publication date: 1995-04-01

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