Society & Culture

Crisis communicator Peter Sandman to speak at UGA

Peter Sandman

Athens, Ga. – Peter Sandman, an expert in health and risk communications, will lecture on “Communicating Risk: Neglected and Controversial Rules of Thumb,” Oct. 16 at 4 p.m. in Room 248 the Zell B. Miller Learning Center at the University of Georgia. The event is free and open to the public.

Sandman’s lecture will focus on the most effective ways to communicate about health threats and issues, as well as what to avoid doing or saying during health threats. Sandman will discuss how to prepare for and manage outrages. He will give tips on communicating via the news media, and ways that health officials can get into, or stay out of, trouble. His visit to UGA is sponsored in part by the Hearst Visiting Professional Program.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Sandman spend time with our students and faculty,” said Glen Nowak, director of the Grady College Center for Risk and Health Communication. “He has been advising governments and corporations for decades on how best to talk about health risks, including things like seasonal and pandemic flu. As such, he has much insight into what works and what doesn’t.”

Sandman specializes in numerous forms of crisis and risk communications, using a formula that he defines as Risk = Hazard + Outrage. His lectures and written columns include topics like outrage management (a term he coined about situations where the hazard is low and the outrage is high), crisis, infectious diseases and precaution advocacy (situations where the hazard is high and outrage is low.) He is a prolific writer and many of his columns can be found online at

Sandman has more than 30 years experience in crisis communications. He received his doctorate in communication from Stanford University in 1971. A Rutgers University professor from 1977 to 1995, Sandman founded the Environmental Communication Research Program at Rutgers in 1986, and was its director until 1992. During that time, ECRP published over 80 articles and books on various aspects of risk communication. In 1995, he became a full-time consultant.

In addition to his lecture Oct. 16, Sandman will also talk with individual Grady College communication classes throughout his four-day visit. Sandman’s wife, Jody Lanard, who is also a professional crisis communicator, will accompany Sandman in some of his lectures.

Grady College Center for Health and Risk Communication
The Center for Health and Risk Communication in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is committed to advancing interdisciplinary research and programs in health and risk communication. It seeks to identify and highlight best practices and leading examples of health and risk communication; provide communication-based education, service and training in health, risk and media communication; serve as a clearinghouse for information and expertise in health and risk communication; and promote development of research projects and interdisciplinary collaborations. The CHRC brings together experts in various fields including health and risk communication, mass media, public relations, persuasion and social influence, interpersonal communication and intercultural communication on a diverse array of health-related topics and issues.

UGA Grady College
Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.

** Note to editors: location updated Oct. 10.