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Communications & Media
Dissertation Review
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How to use Social Media to Manage the Crisis from Natural Disaster (Dissertation Review Sample)


The task was to conduct literature review on 'How government should use social media for natural disaster crisis management.' The paper presented several measures that the government of the United States should employ in order to utilize social media in communicating probable natural disasters and possible management strategies.


How to use social media to manage the crisis from natural disaster
Student names
Natural disasters, mentioning Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and floods, have resulted to terrific harm and escalate to threaten the human race and diverse infrastructure globally. During such disasters, government has to some level failed to communicate to the victims and the rescuers due to insufficient means of communications. It is on such grounds that this paper intends to implement a literature on how to use social media to manage the crisis from natural disaster, and provide literature on reasons why the government should consider employing social media as the primary means in tackling disaster management. In regard to such phenomenon, the United Nations proposed a framework in an effort to counter such occurrences, as well as trying to reduce the associated risks ((UN/ISDR, 2004a; p. 3). Governments have equally responded significantly when such calamities hit their states. For instance, in the United States, numerous bodies have been established by the government as well as non-governmental organizations as forms of disaster and crisis management initiatives (Stephens & Malone, 2009, p. 231).
Therefore, this paper finds it right to provide an extensive and probable solution to this crisis management by proposing a feasible technique regarding awareness of crisis management. In this paper, sufficient literature review regarding possible recommendations on how the US government should use social media for natural disaster and crisis management shall be approached. Extensive literature on crisis management will be reviewed to provide probable techniques that the government should employ in cultivating a life-term solution to such calamities. Therefore, in order to discuss the topic under scrutiny accordingly, the following questions can be posed and subsequently answered in the consequent section, they include:
1 What exceptional roles do social media play in crisis communication, during disasters?
2 Are there some functions that the social media tend to importantly highlight more than others?
3 Is the social media’s engagement in crisis communication a negative impact or a good course?
Media and Crisis management awareness
By definition, social media are communicative and participatory digital tools that entail feature content users may create, influence, or manipulate. Social media is linked to apt, interactive dialogue and foster communication among the creators and consumers of such content (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p.61).
According to Kreps (1986), crisis communication entails the engagement of public relations alertness and communication to minimize any possible harm to the community during a catastrophic situation that could possibly end up causing irreparable damage (p.247).
In previous literature on social media, researchers have lacked a common perspective on whether social media is an effective tool or a threat in crisis communication (Kerkhof et al., 2011). According to Kerkhof et al. (2011), some researchers argue that social media can be provocative during natural disasters and its engagement as a tool for crisis communication can be disastrous. However, other researchers argue that use of social media in the most appropriate way could be the primary tool that can be engaged in handling crises management as well as the primary tool towards crises communication (Schultz et al., 2011). Their study on twitter posts during Hurricane Katrina justified their arguments where the entire world was kept acquainted of the occurrence through social media (Schultz et al., 2011).
Literature has provided that Americans alone primarily engage social media to establish and maintain their communications among family members, friends and job colleagues (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2006). In addition, other researchers found out that people tend to engage in social media communication as a source of consumer products awareness, with more than 60% of this category providing instant feedback to such information (Pew Internet, 2011). Therefore, with reference to the question listed at the introductory part: "What exceptional roles do social media play in crisis communication, during disasters”, it is worthy assertion that use of social media tend to be on the rise during catastrophes and disasters while general public seek to get updated on the real-time occurrence of events. The victims equally tend to be on the same course while they get that tiny chance to do so, with the intent of communicating to their families for any possible help and rescue mission (Bates & Callison, 2008). The two researchers further provide the captivated and unrelenting attention that the general public tend to offer social media in such events.
For instance, research by Perng et al., (2012) provide how more than 80000 tweets were made within 30 minutes of a fatal storm that had hit a ceremony in Belgium. This greatly stipulates some of the unique roles that social media can engage in during disaster communication, such as keeping the general public updated on real-time basis regarding all the occurrences. This is one advantage of engaging social media in disaster communication and crisis management. It is such online reaction that can entail crisis communication as either a failure or success. Therefore, encouraging usage of social media might be a sufficient tool for the government to employ it while managing crisis.
Literature provides that use of social media has depicted to rise during natural calamities, as the general public within the affected regions seek to pass immediate and first-hand information regarding the occurrence (Bates & Callison, 2008; Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2006; Sweetser & Metzgar, 2007), which answers the second derived question on whether there are some functions that the social media tend to importantly highlight more than others. The researchers further stipulate that there is increased absorption and attention drawn by the general public to the social sites whenever such calamities occur. This literature therefore aids in determining various methodologies such the governments should employ in passing disaster and crisis management to the general public. For instance, governments should consider creating facebook and tweeter pages that entirely deal with crises management procedures ((Turoff, 2002). In addition, when governments and emergency response teams engage such models, they stand better chances in scrutinizing the feedback offered by the general public relating to such occurrences. Coombs & Holladay (2012) stipulate the advantages associated with social media as a tool for crisis management by asserting that governments among other senior institutions are capable of determining the general public’s reactions and real-time sentiments to disaster management. Equally enough, Coombs and Holladay (2012) further claim that such "online reactions can provide markers of crisis communication success or failure" as alleged by key audiences (p. 286).
A study by Stephens and Malone (2009) illustrates a risk reduction model that could aid in passing substantial prevention measures prior a possible calamity or any disastrous occurrences. The establishment, deployment, and proper use of early alert systems could play a significant role in crisis management globally. With the current development in the information and communication sector, diverse social sites have been established and have caught the entire humanity’s attention. Such social sites when used as systems of early warnings could strengthen the cooperation and coordination of crisis management when such disasters occur; hence governments should have none other option but engage them in disaster and crisis management tools (Stephens &Malone, 2009). When effectively employed by the governmental bodies, social media platform can facilitate new ways of information flow and that would be of much remedy to those in need of such information whenever a disaster strikes, for instance volunteers, survivors, responders, and the public in general (Palen et al., 2009). Social sites can therefore be of service as effective communication routes for the governments to reach communities and individuals, over and above alerting emergency responders.
It is therefore the obligation of the governmental institutions to offer sufficient measures that victims and general public can engage to handle such situations, and this should be done through social media. Literature provided by Palen (2009 suggests three logical and temporal stages involved in crisis management: pre-crisis, crisis, and post-crisis. Arguably, pre-crisis is that duration prior occurrence of a calamity, crisis is the real occurrence of the situations, wile post-crisis is that duration amid the vanishing of the crisis itself and the resumption of normal conditions (Palen, 2009). The researcher further provides a reference model to crisis management which is based on preparedness and mitigation (in pre-crisis), response and reaction (in crisis itself), and recovery measures (in post-crisis).
According to Keselman et al. (2005), the government should always meet the urgent requirements of the victims and offer immediate support upon such incidences. Providing vital information to the public in vital in aiding decision makers to handle the crisis in most affordable ways. It is on such grounds the government should consider social sites as the primary mode of information transfer since such sites can be accessed with ease in comparison to any other form of media.
It has been widely acknowledged that social media plays a significant role in diverse disaster and crisis aspect. In addition, literature provided by Bates and C...
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