Crisis Communication Management: -A Case Study of Oxfam’s 2018 Credibility Crisis

University essay from Örebro universitet/Institutionen för humaniora, utbildnings- och samhällsvetenskap

Abstract: The growth of social media has set demands on organizations to be online and interact with stakeholders, especially during a crisis. The public are no longer seen as passive receivers of marketing messages. Previous studies have shown that the need for information increases during a crisis. Social media can be a powerful tool if is used strategically. This case study looks deeper into Oxfam’s 2018 Haiti sexual exploitation scandal, as an attempt to understand how organizations communicate on social media during a crisis. By co-applying multimodal critical discourse analysis (MCDA) and the social-mediated crisis communication (SMCC) model, a broader understanding of how the crisis was handled can be developed. The data consists of four Instagram posts that will be analyzed, drawing upon four multimodal frameworks from Machin (2017): Iconography: the ‘hidden meanings’ of images; The meaning of color in visual design; The meaning of typography; and Representation of social actors in images. In order to obtain a broader picture of the strategies, key public and relationships, the components of the SMCC model will be identified and presented for this case. The result of this study shows that multiple response strategies have been used to communicate both tailored messages and unified organizational messages. It is apparent that Oxfam did not have a clear strategy and altered between apologizing, “blaming” individuals within the organization and distancing themselves from the crisis.

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