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69: Rocking the Spotlight—A Crisis Communication Toolbox

Karen Raucher is a policy analyst and risk communication specialist with expertise identifying how to gather, develop, and effectively share complex, uncertain information with a wide diversity of audiences. Ms. Raucher played a leading role in recent strategic climate change communication and policy-focused research for the Water Research Foundation, the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA), and the WateReuse Research Foundation, as well as for a broad range of individual water utilities. She brings cutting-edge insights to the understanding and application of effective communication and long-term decision-making strategies to address large future uncertainty as well as complex regulatory challenges.

Top Takeaways

  1. Anytime when fear or high anxiety is present, it switches how we process information in the brain. It takes us out of our frontal lobe where we do increased thought processing to the primitive amygdala where our only reactions are to freeze, flight, faint or fight.
  2. Your audience can’t process information beyond the amygdala until you’ve answered their questions of critical concern. As a water professional, you may not even know what those questions are. You need to ask your customers and then listen. It may not even be what you think is a legitimate question based on your experience and knowledge but it must be answered before you can move forward.
  3. Don’t try to communicate alone. Communicate with community thought-leaders and let them help you amplify your message. They know how to address it through the lens of what matters most to their community.
  4. Social media is no longer a choice. 60-70% of people go their first to find their news.
  5. 27/9/3. Your brain can only handle 27 words that can be spoken in 9 seconds or less that covers three of fewer talking points. Use this equation when crafting your messaging.


This episode is powered by Moonshot Missions, the non-profit organization seeking to disrupt the current approach to delivering improvement to water systems. Led by seasoned and skilled experts, Moonshot Missions designs replicable models that help utilities overcome the challenges they face in order to move forward. Moonshot can help you assess your system, select solutions from a pre-vetted menu of projects, plus develop innovative financing approaches. Collaborate with other leaders to work together, develop tailored mission plans and share lessons learned. Together you can build water systems that work more efficiently and effectively to protect and provide for the residents you serve, while also saving your customers money.

If you’d like to learn more or even share your own experience that might be helpful for a struggling utility to adopt and start on a positive path, visit or email”

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