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Peter Sandman

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Creator of the “Hazard + Outrage” formula for risk communication, Peter M. Sandman is the preeminent risk communication speaker and consultant in the United States today, and has also worked extensively in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. His unique and effective approach to managing risk controversies has made him much in demand for other sorts of reputation management as well.

Dr. Sandman has helped his clients through a wide range of public controversies that threatened corporate or government reputation — from oil spills to labor–management battles; from E. coli contamination to the siting of hazardous waste facilities. He also works on the “other side” of risk issues, helping activists arouse concern about serious hazards, for example, and helping companies persuade employees to take safety rules seriously. Whatever their perspective, his clients and seminar participants learn the dynamics of “outrage”: how to reduce it, how to prevent it, how to provoke it.

A Rutgers University professor since 1977, Dr. Sandman founded the Environmental Communication Research Program (ECRP) 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. Now a full-time consultant, Dr. Sandman retains his academic affiliations as Professor of Human Ecology at Rutgers and as Professor of Environmental and Community Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He received his Ph.D in Communication from Stanford University in 1971.

“The normal state of humankind vis-à-vis risk is apathy,” Dr. Sandman argues. “Whenever people are overly concerned about a risk, there has to be a reason — and by far the most common reason is outrage. I spend some of my time helping activists mobilize outrage about serious risks ... and the rest of it helping industry and government reduce the outrage about not-so-serious risks.” Dr. Sandman’s sense of humor, his sense of realism, and his ability to help people understand all sides of risk controversies make him much in demand for both jobs.

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