Crisis communication in public emergencies: multistakeholders' perspectives

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Purpose: The main purpose of this paper is to provide empirical evidence for effective crisis communication in public emergencies including the relevance of planning and training and rehearsal; to explore the role of different stakeholders and how social media influence effective crisis communication. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative research design was employed. Two events were analysed, via the synthesis model for handling crisis communication in the public sector, as cases. First, via post-crisis semi-structured interviews, a gas explosion in the city of Antwerp was analysed. Second, via participant observation of a training and rehearsal exercise, more insight was gained on the role of training and social media for crisis communication. Findings: The findings of this paper provide empirical evidence that (1) effective crisis communication is communication that is diversified across different crisis stages and diverse stakeholders; (2) that different internal social media tools and external social media tools are necessary to be monitored for effective crisis communication; (3) that training and rehearsal are of great importance for effective crisis communication. Originality/value: This paper contributes to three current crisis communication research calls. First, the call for more research focusing on public sector crisis management, using public sector crisis communication models. Second, the call for the implementation of a more multiple-actor approach instead of an organisation-centred approach; and, third, the call for gaining insight into how specific communication channels are used before, during and after a crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-130
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Services
Issue number1
Early online date30 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Julie Calliauw and Dorien Houben Master in Multilingual Professional Communication – University of Antwerp

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.


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