In October 2019, we helped in organising ECREA’ Crisis Communication conference entitled #Crisis6: Innovations in Risk and Crisis Communication
While Crisis Communication is an established academic field with strong theory development and researchers based in countries all around the globe, it is not something that is commonly associated with women’s and media studies, even though it should be. It is enough to think of Alabama abortion ban and draconian penalties for women who try to abort as well as excessive anti-abortion campaigning and abuse in the United States to realize that Crisis is a feminist agenda as much as any other issue we normally research.
When it comes to media, we live in an era of fake news and Far-Right alternative facts websites where random populists and fascists distort facts to further their agenda. The media is indeed in a permanent state of crisis, especially if we look at data showing high distrust in traditional media and journalists to tell the truth. For example, in the UK, the Press-Gazette reported last year that only 2% of the British public trust journalists, which shows the extent of public distrust in the media .
This data is not without foundation since British media landscape suffers from serious issues with bias in reporting, which goes that far that newspapers, for example, are making editorial decisions on which side of the political argument to promote, thus effectively undermining the premise of media reporting being impartial.
Therefore, the Crisis conference came as a refreshing way of understanding the social world and a useful framework to analyse what constitutes issue and what constitutes a crisis and how organisations could communicate during a crisis. However, the research also has a wider social relevance because we could all educate ourselves a bit more about the crisis, which could ultimately result with the general public being less prone to propaganda and fake news.
The conference we helped in organising had experts from 20+ countries attending, and discussing issues such as theory development (e.g. Situational Crisis Communication Theory and Rhetorical Arena Theory and how these two theories could be combined to study crisis), shifts in crisis communication and response strategies, data breaches on social media and the crisis response, stakeholder mindsets and emotions, the use of strategic silence in crisis communication, media representation of crisis responses, vaccination debate as a global crisis, etc.
The full conference programme with abstracts of all papers presented is available at this link and readers can find more information about research and authors who work in the field
Whilst our forthcoming media and women’s studies conferences (January 2020) do not have crisis communication panels, the future ones will have to capture trends in this important and socially relevant research.
Photos from the conference are available on our Twitter account (@CRSSH) and a selection is available in the gallery below.
Thank you for reading.
Dr Martina Topić
Dr Martina Topić is a Senior Lecturer in Public Relations in Leeds Business School and a founder of the Centre for Research in Social Sciences and Humanities. You can find out more about her work at her personal website or at the Leeds Beckett website