CRISIS COMMUNICATION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: CRAFTING A SUCCESSFUL STRATEGY USING SOCIAL MEDIA
Coonce, Angela G.
Friedman, Mitchell S.
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Law enforcement has begun to embrace social media as a communication tool; but, in most cases, agencies have not created strategies around using social media for crisis communication. This thesis focused on identifying smart practices in crisis communication to determine what a social media crisis communication strategy for law enforcement should look like. The use of force by law enforcement often results in a negative community reaction; this research focused on communication on social media after use of force incidents. An analysis of crisis communication theory and research was conducted. The analysis included situational crisis communication theory, attribution theory, image repair theory, social information processing theory, and social presence theory. An examination was conducted of successful crisis communication strategies used in the private sector, which revealed seven common elements. The commonalities led to the conclusion that law enforcement should establish protocols and create strategies with these elements: conduct regular scenario-based crisis communication training, leverage the young social-media savvy generation that grew up with technology, commonly called “digital natives,” for social media communications, actively monitor social media, with attention not only to content but also to tone and lexicon, ensure timely communication with the public after use of force incidents, and place priority in messaging on qualities, such as honesty and compassion.
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