Sung In Choi (PhD student), Yan Jin, and Mark Badham. (forthcoming). “Factors Influencing Americans’ Preventive Behaviours during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons for Strategic Health and Risk Communicators.” Strategic Communication in a Global Crisis: National and International Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Eds. R. Tench, J. Meng, and A. Moreno-Fernández), Routledge.
Abstract: This chapter examines factors influencing Americans’ preventive behaviours, including their COVID-19 vaccination intentions, in response to the U.S. Government’s strategic communication about COVID-19 guidelines. This chapter draws on the theory of planned behaviour to shed light on three factors that can help strategic health and risk communicators predict future behaviours during a pandemic: attitude toward a recommended vaccine, social norms (i.e., the likelihood that individuals will follow others’ opinions about recommended behaviour), and self-efficacy (i.e., individuals’ confidence in their own ability to follow recommended behaviour). Based on an online survey of American adults in October-November 2020, the study found, first, that a relatively high proportion of Americans were adopting government-recommended behaviours to prevent infection and spread of the virus. Second, Americans who follow the government’s recommended behaviours tend to have higher vaccination intentions. Third, younger Americans are more likely to be influenced by social norms to adopt recommended behaviours. Fourth, younger Americans have higher levels of self-efficacy than older Americans. Finally, Americans with higher education levels tend to have higher self-efficacy to follow recommended actions, thus leading to higher levels of preventive behaviours. These findings have important implications for strategic health and risk communicators, particularly when attempting to persuade the public to follow government health recommendations during a public health crisis.
Xuerong Lu (PhD alum) and Yan Jin. (forthcoming). “Integrating Strategy and Dosage: A New Conceptual Formula for Overcoming Unintended Effects in Public Health Crisis Communication (PHCC).” The Handbook of Crisis Communication (2nd edition) (Eds. W. T. Coombs and S. J. Holladay), Wiley-Blackwell.
Abstract: Lu and Jin provide insights into public health crisis communication (PHCC) by reconceptualizing how we think about the concept of dosage. The chapter extends the notion of dosage from the amount of exposure to publics’ engagement over time in a competitive and conflicting media environment. Lu and Jin delineate a new direction in PHCC by formulating the effect of crisis communication strategy and dosage according to a chemical analogy of solution concentration (i.e. strategy) and volume of solution (i.e. dosage). First, this chapter visualizes PHCC as a neutralization process, in which the base solution (i.e., PHCC strategy and dosage) to neutralize the harm caused by the acid solution (i.e., a public health crisis). Second, this chapter further analogizes the PHCC as the base solution consisting of a solute dissolved into a solvent, where the solute is the message strategy (e.g., emotional appeal) and the solvent is the carrier of the message similar to messengers and channels. Lu and Jin define the concept of PHCC dosage as the volume of “base solution,” which will influence the effectiveness of the neutralization (i.e. PHCC). This new conceptual framework, illustrated with recent public health crisis cases, helps explain PHCC (in)effectiveness. Lu and Jin also provide a theoretical foundation for empirical studies that examine and predict how both the strategy and dosage of a crisis response message might exert intended and/or unintended effects among publics confronted with information clutters and desensitized by previous and/or ongoing crisis situations. The chapter explores new possibilities for research and application of PHCC.
Yan Jin, Lucinda Austin, and Brooke Liu. (forthcoming). “Social-Mediated Crisis Communication Research: How Information Generation, Consumption, and Transmission Influence Communication Processes and Outcomes.” The Handbook of Crisis Communication (2nd edition) (Eds. W. T. Coombs and S. J. Holladay), Wiley-Blackwell.
Abstract: Jin, Austin, and Liu provide insights into their innovative social-mediated crisis communication (SMCC) model. Jin et al. note the SMCC was born out of a desire to provide theoretically informed research on the role of social media in crisis communication. Since its creation, the SMCC model has become one of the most cited theories in the domain of social media, crisis, and public relations. Jin et al. explain that the SMCC model has been refined through a series of empirical studies over the past decade, pointing to the need for advanced knowledge on how organizations and publics can harness social media to effectively prepare for and respond to crises, as well as the urgency of understanding the potential dark side of social media and emerging technology. This chapter synthesizes research developing and testing the SMCC model along with related investigations. Jin et al. conclude with recommendations for future research on social media and crisis communication. This chapter provides important details about the SMCC model that should serve as a touchstone for future researchers who utilize the SMCC model in their own crisis communication research.
Bryan Reber, Yan Jin, and Glen Nowak. (forthcoming). “Advancing Crisis Communication Effectiveness: Integrating Crisis Scholarship with Practice.” The Handbook of Crisis Communication (2nd edition) (Eds. W. T. Coombs and S. J. Holladay), Wiley-Blackwell.
Abstract: Reber, Jin, and Nowak lead us through a discussion on collaboration between academics and the practice. They note the need and value of university and industry collaborations including service research and collaborative research. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication planted the seeds of collaboration with the C. Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership and grew that into the Crisis Communication Think Tank and related meetings. Reber et al. identify university research groups as another way to facilitate collaboration. They also emphasize the value in gap studies for identifying areas of future research and collaboration. Reber et al. end with a review of the yields that emerge from integrating crisis scholarship and practice. This chapter serves as a complement to Chapter 36 by Detavernier and Chapter 38 by Morgan that focus on how practitioners use theory.
Yen-I Lee (PhD alum), Xuerong Lu (PhD candidate), Taylor Voges (PhD candidate), and Yan Jin. (forthcoming). “Fending off Unverified Accusation with Narratives: The Role of Primary and Secondary Narratives in Organizational Response Effectiveness in an Ongoing Crisis”. Journal of International Crisis and Risk Communication Research.
Abstract: A challenge confronting crisis communication practice is how to communicate about crisis situations involving unverified accusations of sexual harassment attributed to an organization’s members. The investigation and verification of the original accusation take time, but the organization needs to respond to the concerned publics. This study integrates theories of metanarration (Venette et al., 2003) and crisis narratives (Seeger & Sellnow, 2016) to identify optimal approaches to manage uncertain and high-pressure crisis situations. An online experiment used a U.S. adult sample (N = 697) to examine how 1) the primary narrative in a news story about the victim and 2) the secondary narrative with different crisis narratives used by the accused organization impacted the outcomes of the organization’s public communication about the ongoing crisis situation. The results showed that the secondary narrative, emphasizing renewal, played a significant role in 1) lowering perceived organizational crisis responsibility, 2) lessening organizational reputation damage, and 3) boosting supportive intention toward the organization. In addition, findings revealed that perceived organizational crisis responsibility and perceived organizational reputation functioned as sequential mediators for the relationship between the secondary narrative (using renewal crisis narrative) and participants’ intended support of the crisis-stricken organization. Our findings advance crisis narrative theory and offer prescriptions for effective and ethical organizational responses in managing an ongoing crisis triggered by an unverified sexual harassment accusation against its members.
Abstract: This study examined the effects of literacy and efficacy on individuals’ protective action taking and information seeking during the early phase of infectious disease outbreaks through a nationally representative survey of 1,164 U.S. adults. New measures of disaster literacy and crisis efficacy were tested. Overall, results revealed that crisis efficacy and organizational efficacy drove protective action taking and information seeking intentions, while health literacy did not. Disaster literacy negatively predicted both protective action advice seeking and information seeking. The findings highlight the importance of strengthening public efficacy and improving relationships between health authorities and the public, which is greatly influenced by the public’s confidence in the health authority’s management of the crisis.
Abstract: Social media presents unique challenges and opportunities to practitioners in the public affairs context. The dominant social media platforms allow organizations to communicate directly with voters, supporters, and customers, permitting them to circumvent traditional media. But this unrivaled access comes at a price that includes heightened scrutiny of messaging, an accelerated news cycle, and exposure to hyper-partisanship. When organizations find themselves in the midst of a crisis born from social media or extending into that context, these opportunities and risks are heightened. Public officials and candidates for elective office in the midst of a political scandal confront operational risk, exposure to trolls and bots, as well as public confusion regarding the parties responsible for its management. Organizations unaccustomed to regular engagement in public affairs similarly find themselves in uncharted waters. They may be exposed to unusually high levels of social media pressure and face the prospect of lasting damage to their brands. Building appropriate infrastructure for managing social media, including the use of appropriate analytics, establishing clear lines of responsibility for social media, deploying third parties as needed, and a long-term reputation management program can help organizations endure even unforeseen crises in the midst of a political scandal or reputation crisis.
Abstract: Social media influencers (SMIs) equipped their niche following with health crisis response information about social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many SMIs provided audiences with COVID-19 crisis response information, this case chapter details how a widely followed millennial mom influencer, Katie Crenshaw, leveraged Instagram’s features in line with the Health Belief Model (HBM). To reduce the barriers to social distancing, her content engaged her audience with practical ways to social distance with children. She fostered a social media community of moms committed to staying at home with their children during the health crisis. She also held her followers accountable to social distancing by developing a hashtag campaign with other widely followed SMIs. The following case chapter outlines her content strategy in light of HBM, a theory increasingly being used to examine the effectiveness of crisis communication efforts. Insights and recommendations for practitioners and researchers are discussed.
Abstract: Moore’s law, which has helped to explain the exponential growth achieved in traditional computational power over the past half-century, has been eschewed for Neven’s law. Neven’s law posits that quantum computing is advancing at a doubly exponential rate. Quantum computers possess the processing power required to analyze the incalculable amount of “big data” in existence today. Together, big data and quantum computing are driving advancements in machine learning, which in turn, helps to power artificial intelligence (AI). AI, computational power, and big data will accelerate the development of technologies that will alter how humans behave and communicate. Using these three technologies as a foundation, this chapter explores (i) the explosion and analysis of “big data,” (ii) the evolution of advanced AI, and (iii) the emergence of extended reality (XR). The impact of these technologies and trends on organizations, crisis communication theory and practice, and society at-large are discussed and supported with real-world examples.
Abstract: Social media provides users easy access to unpredictable and unfiltered information from multiple sources during crises, further challenging publics to discern the accuracy of the information they receive and to decide how to react subsequently. Although studies using the social-mediated crisis communication (SMCC) model identify how public actively seek and share crisis information when exposed to it during crisis, it remains unknown why and how publics engage with certain crisis information before their information transmission behaviors. Therefore, echoing the need to understand how publics cope in complex crisis situations and how they consume crisis information in accordance with their social media environment, this chapter summarizes recent scholarly efforts in updating the SMCC model by adding information vetting as a new key component of crisis information engagement and crisis coping, grounded primarily in a dual-process model and meta-cognition.