While social media like Twitter have been increasingly adopted by public-sector organizations, it remains less explored as to how government and emergency management (EM) organizations use these platforms to communicate with the public in response to emerging natural disasters. Extending the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) to the realm of social media, this study examines the emerging semantic networks from 67 government and EM organizations’ official tweets during Hurricane Harvey over a three-week period. It identifies how multiple crisis response strategies—including instructing information, adjusting information, and bolstering—are constituted of different issues, actions, and organizational actors before, during, and immediately after the disaster event. Results suggest that government agencies use the strategy of instructing information predominantly before and during the disaster, whereas adjusting information and bolstering strategies are utilized more during post-disaster recovery. The study offers theoretical and practical implications of using a semantic network approach to studying organizational crisis responses.
- Crisis response strategies
- Government use of social media
- Government-public relations
- Semantic networks
- Situational crisis communication theory