April 5, 2017 - 5:14pm -- Ashland University

4 Qualities You Need as a Risk Communications Specialist

A Risk Communications Specialist can play a key role in an organization’s success and public image. What does a Risk Communications Specialist do? He or she may write press releases, speak with the media, promote events, and calm the public during a crisis. A Risk Communications Specialist can help to boost the company’s image, deter rumors, and improve morale.

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Ashland University’s Master of Arts in Corporate and Strategic Communication can help you better prepare for a career as a Risk Communications Specialist. Contact us at 419.289.5738 or by email at grad-admissions@ashland.edu to learn more! Career opportunities for a Risk Communications Specialist are vast. In the growing healthcare industry, for example, a Risk Communications Specialist has an especially important role. Risk communication involves “the exchange of real-time information, advice and opinions between experts and people facing threats to their health, economic or social well-being,” according to the World Health Organization.

4 Qualities You Need as a Risk Communications Specialist

Risk Communication Specialist - Qualities

As a Risk Communications Specialist, you will need four qualities. You will need to be:

  • Open and honest, with the ability to build and maintain trust

  • Compassionate, with the ability to listen

  • Focused, with the ability to quickly set priorities

  • An effective communicator, with the ability to relate to people from all backgrounds

Communication specialist skills range from being able to write well to being able to speak to groups of any size. When you work in risk communications, these skills become especially important, along with the qualities you really need to succeed in such a critical position.

Open and Honest

When you are in a position involving risk, you must be able to establish and maintain trust with those affected. Otherwise, your communications may not be received well. When people are in a panic because of an epidemic, for example, they want solid information from a trustworthy source.

Honesty is a quality you will need when interacting with all stakeholders in your communication specialist position. Often, a risk communication specialist is also helping design effective behavioral-change communication strategies. You may be the point person for individuals who want to improve living conditions or behavior, in the face of a critical situation. They have to be able to trust you, to know that you will be open and honest with them.


Individuals in a risky situation need someone who can communicate with them in a compassionate manner. Your job may be working as a communication specialist for a non-profit or in another high-stress organization, such as a police department, or a military branch, such as the Army. As a risk communication specialist in these environments, you may be more focused on public relations or health and safety messaging. In either case, you will need the quality of compassion to be able to empathize with those who are in high-stress and high-risk situations.


Communications often happen quickly in a risk situation. As the Risk Communications Specialist, you may have to make quick decisions that carry significant impact. You must be able to remain focused, even under the most stressful circumstances. People will be depending on you to remain calm, make intelligent decisions, and communicate with a reassuring focus.

Effective Communicator

As a Risk Communications Specialist, you will need to be able to communicate with individuals from all backgrounds, with all levels of education and comprehension abilities. In the healthcare field, you may be called upon to communicate with individuals impacted by a public health crisis. You may also need to speak with the media, compose a statement for your nonprofit or corporate director, and hold public meetings.  

A Risk Communications Specialist with these four qualities, along with the skills needed to work with the media, with the public, and with corporate and nonprofit leaders will successful in the field. As such, you will be able to pursue positions with a wide communications salary range, from a specialist to a development officer to a division director.

4 Qualities You Need as a Risk Communications Specialist