Proceedings from the 8th annual International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference

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Monday, January 1st
12:00 AM

2018 ICRCC Proceedings Table of Contents

Conference Organizers

Orlando, Florida

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

These proceedings are a representative sample of the presentations given by professional practitioners and academic scholars at the 2018 International Crisis and Risk Communication Conference (ICRCC) held March 12-14, 2018. The ICRCC is an annual event that takes place the second week in March in beautiful sunny Orlando, Florida. The conference hosts are faculty and staff from the Nicholson School of Communication. The goal of the ICRCC is to bring together prominent professional practitioners and academic scholars that work directly with crisis and risk communication on a daily basis. We define crisis and risk broadly to include, for example, natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis), political crises, food safety issues, biosecurity, health pandemics, and so on.

Building Bridges to Connect With Stakeholders: A Template for Success

Kimberly A. Reed, Past President, International Food Information Council Foundation, and Nominee, First Vice President and Vice Chairman, Export-Import Bank of the United States

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

The modern age of communication, with the 24x7 news cycle and "information overload," can impact our ability to connect with stakeholders. Kimberly Reed, a Washington professional who has built bridges for more than 20 years both across the aisle and around the globe with non-profits, trade associations, government officials, and risk and crisis communication professionals, presented a case study on Expo Milano 2015: "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" (the "World's Fair," which was the world's largest gathering and discussion on the topic of food). She shared best practices that featured Drs. Deanna and Tim Sellnow and provided practical resources to help communicators better connect with stakeholders and the media, bridge gaps, and deliver positive impact.

Cultural Challenges When Memorializing Tragedies

Kjell Brataas, Ministry of Transportation, Oslo Norway

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

After a tragedy, victims and survivors often desire to memorialize what happened. This can take many forms, and finding the right way often involves a number of challenges. There will usually be differences of opinion among the bereaved, the injured and the uninjured survivors, and cultural aspects and differences play a major role. This presentation provides examples from around the world and hints on bridging the culture gap when memorializing a tragedy.

Risk and Crisis Communication in Colombia: a Case Study from Medellín

Michael Klafft, Jade University of Applied Sciences and Fraunhofer FOKUS
Pia Schreiber, Jade University of Applied Sciences

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

This paper analyses the state of the art of risk and crisis communication in Colombia with a focus on natural and man-made risks and disasters. Findings are based on a series of semi-structured interviews with risk and crisis communication experts, practitioners, and educational experts from the city of Medellín, and on a content analysis of teaching materials used for risk communication. The study reveals that a combination of different approaches is used to raise risk awareness in the population, combining education through entertainment, citizen sciences projects, and risk communication via the website and app of a regional alerting system.

Discourse Networks of Emergency Response Communication: A Case Study of Civilian Deliberation on the Reddit Platform

Cody Blake Wilson, Purdue University
Megan Kendall, Purdue University

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Using discourse and network analysis, this research explores a reddit thread concerning an emergency situation in the U.S.V.I. after a 2017 hurricane. In particular, research seeks to gain greater understanding of deliberation and problem-solving behaviour of a crowdsourced, citizen group in response to a disaster. Findings support the use of network analysis and measures of centrality to isolate particularly important actors and contributions in a network. Furthermore, findings also depict seven archetypical roles played by users in the discourse. Further research is needed to understand how the tier structure of the reddit platform influences network structure and behaviour and normalize methods and approaches to conducting network-based research on the platform for consistent and reliable findings across research cases.

Victim-Group Legitimacy: An Argument for Extending our Understanding of Legitimacy after Crisis

Cody Blake Wilson, Purdue University

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Organizational legitimacy has been useful approach to studying relationship management in crisis. This presentation suggests an expansion of organizational legitimacy theory: victim-group legitimacy. Multiple recent cases of crisis involving historically marginalized groups (HMGs) suggest that organizations may not be fully prepared to respond to crises involving HMGs. Recent cases also suggest that publics now routinely see modern crises as chapters within larger marginalization narratives. Victim-group legitimacy acts as a framework for evaluating, interpreting, and responding to not only the crisis at hand, but the historical crisis between an organization and HMGs.

Social Media Use During Natural Disasters: An Analysis of Social Media Usage During Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Larry J. King, Stephen F. Austin State University

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

This paper examines the use of social media in two recent national disasters and provides conclusions about the use of social media in these types of events.

Reputational Threats Online: Social Media as a Simultaneous Agent of Crisis and Tool for Response and Resolution in the Case Study of an American Academic Library

Margaret C. Stewart, University of North Florida
Maria Atilano, University of North Florida

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

This paper details a reputational threat to an American academic library where a viral social media post and associated negative comments misrepresented the institution and brand’s values. Immediately, the marketing librarian responsible for social media responded to the threat by engaging directly with the library consumers, sharing content and information with the broader online community, and reinforcing the library’s values and commitment to consumers. While the resolution to the crisis was mostly favourable, the event was unanticipated and invited a keen learning opportunity that is documented in this case study. Reflections and takeaways from this incident are discussed in the context of emerging literature on crisis communication, reputation threats, and social media.

Implementing STREMII: A practical guide for crisis communication on social media during hurricanes and natural disasters

Margaret Stewart, University of North Florida
Cory Young, Ithaca College

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

This paper details a practical series of recommendations to implement the two ongoing stages of the STREMII model – Social Listening and Responsive Engagement – during a crisis event. First, we outline the original STREMII model, then detail and discuss a revised and updated version of the model. Then, we describe steps for getting started using the STREMII model for social media crisis communication, and, finally, present suggestions for uses of best practice for the model.

Targeting Internal Publics During the 2014 Ebola Outbreak: An Analysis of Kaiser Permanente’s Crisis Communication Strategy

Ingrid S. Greene, Pepperdine University
Denise P. Ferguson, Azusa Pacific University

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Issues management in today’s quickly changing world can be complex and unpredictable, and in the case of the spread of Ebola, carry lethal implications. Kaiser Permanente (KP) faced a potential internal crisis due to the involvement of medical staff during the spread of the disease in the United States. In addition, KP needed to ensure the safety of the patients the healthcare provider serves. This case study examines how the corporate communications team at KP in Southern California communicated the necessary messages during this crisis in the U.S. in the fall of 2014. The methodology of this case is a textual analysis of the internal corporate communications within Kaiser Permanente during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

Effects of Crisis News on Intercultural Tolerance: An International Comparative Study

Anthony Eseke, Messiah College

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Human beings are “cultural animals who know and see and hear the world through socially constructed filters.” [1]. Fundamental to these filters are identities. Through the frames of identity, people often negotiate the dialectics of the ‘self’ with/against ‘the other’. The media in their reportage of conflicts and crisis produce and reinforce these dialectics. However, to what extent and directions do these reports influence social tolerance in the audience? This study therefore examined the effects of crisis/conflict news on otherness. The study defined otherness as the appraisal attitudes of tolerance, apathy, or intolerance towards other bodies based on identity categories. Consistent with media effects literature, the assumption was that the frames of crisis news were capable of stimulating measurable dissonances that influence tolerance/intolerance. The effects of two news reporting approaches were tested, ‘violence frames’ and ‘peace frames’. ‘Violence frame’ described news reporting styles that emphasize overt features of conflict such as the conflict arena – who threw the first stone; the fatalities; and the physical and human losses of the conflict. ‘Peace frame’, on the other hand, described news reportage that emphasize the roots and contexts of the conflict; and the constructive outcomes of the conflict by giving voice to all parties in the conflict. A 2 X 2 X 2 between-subjects factorial design surveyed the effects of religious crisis news story frames, victims’ religious identities, and the effects newspaper types on intercultural tolerance. The study found that in religious crisis news, the religious identity of victims significantly influenced the tolerance measures of the participants (F(4,722) = 14.505, p < .05). The religious identity (F(4,722) = 14.505, p < .05) and religiosity (F(8,657) = 3.340, p < .05) of the readers of the crisis news significantly moderated their measures of intercultural othering (tolerance). It was also found that the credibility perceptions towards the newspaper had significant effects on the tolerance levels of the readers (F(11,528) = 2.085, p < .05). The nationality (F(2,726) = 16.051, p < .05) and gender (F(3,719) = 3.037, p < .05) of readers of religious crisis news all had significant effects on intercultural othering. Crisis news frames had no significant effects on the intercultural othering of the participants. The findings of this study underscore the need for understanding the dynamic of crisis news in peace building and social tolerance.

Why trivialising people’s culture can be catastrophic for the effective communication of extreme weather warnings: lessons from the Delta State of Nigeria

Eromose E. Ebhuoma, University of Johannesburg

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Early weather warnings can save lives and minimise the loss of assets. The most accurate forecast, however, is useless if it fails to reach those anticipated to be affected by a predicted adverse weather condition, as this will impede their ability to act pro-actively. The 2012 flood disaster in Nigeria which had devastating consequences for 30 states in the country, for example, was forecasted a few months ahead by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency. However, data obtained from some rural communities in the Delta state that suffered severe implications courtesy of the flood revealed that the warning did not get to most households. This was largely due to the relevant authority’s failure to utilise the communication techniques and strategies employed by rural households when disseminating vital information to members of their respective communities. This paper argues that it is crucial to reconsider contemporary systems of communications and adopt more pro-poor communication techniques that are underpinned by cultures and traditions. Otherwise, future early warning communications to rural households in the Delta state will likely fail to trigger the intended reaction.

The NFL as a Mega-Crisis: Applications of Fractal Theory

Cory Young, Ithaca College
Terry Rentner, Bowling Green State Univeristy

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

The National Football League (NFL) is facing a reputation crisis—a serious problem for a powerhouse institution that airs its Super Bowl in 180 countries. Public and media scrutiny for its handling of domestic abuse cases and denial of concussions leading to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) have left the NFL with a mega-crisis. Television ratings are down, player injuries are up, and fewer youth are participating in the sport. This research, presented at the International Crisis and Risk Communication conference, addresses the CTE and domestic abuse scandals in the NFL and details the League’s responses to both high-profile cases. We provide an understanding of a mega-crisis and then introduce Fractal Crisis Theory as the foundation for an analysis of both situations. The theory provides a context for analyzing how the NFL managed these two crises and offers a unique approach to studying sport and crises. We conclude with recommendations for dealing with future mega-crises.

A close look at the role of regulatory fit in consumers’ responses to unethical firms

Kwansik Mun, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ilgi Shin, Incheon Catholic University

12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Our knowledge is not enough to clearly explain how consumers respond to unethical firms, thereby forming attitudes toward unethical firms’ brand and buying their products. In this sense, we conduct a one-way experimental design to test regulatory focus theory when it comes to attitudes toward unethical firms’ brand and the purchase intention. Our findings reveal that promotion-oriented participants were more negative toward Mitsubishi, which violates achievement (e.g. fuel efficiency), than prevention-oriented participants. More importantly, promotion-oriented people were less likely to buy Mitsubishi automobiles than prevention-oriented people. In contrast, prevention-oriented consumers are negative toward Volkswagen which violates protection (e.g. carbon dioxide emission reduction).