Library Dissertation Showcase

The changing crisis communications landscape during the Covid-19 pandemic: the role of social media

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

The following thesis paper is an investigation into the effects of social media on people’s perceptions of a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity to investigate this concept in a modern and relevant context. Applying traditional theories of crisis communications to empirical findings elicited from primary data collection allows the research to be updated to a time in which traditional methods of crisis communications may have become outdated.

The research problem is to look at bridging the gap between the traditional theories of crisis communications and the limited literature available to contextualise such theories to the modern social media landscape. Through a survey into public perceptions, the extent to which social media has an influence is investigated and categorised into a positive or negative influence. The secondary literature supports a balanced view that social media has both benefits and risks as a tool for crisis communications, whereas the primary data is a little more ambiguous. However, it is clear that social media is a requirement of modern crisis communications theories and should be considered in future management best practice.

Recommendations for future theories include prioritising social media as a mechanism to distribute and collect crisis information, yet care must be taken to avoid further reputational damages, such as paracrises. Acknowledging that social media is a permanent fixture in communications, the field of crisis management must now adopt such practices to best be able to deal with emerging critical and dangerous situations.

Key words: Social media, pandemic, COVID-19, crisis communications, crisis management.

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