Liu, Brooke Fisher, & Briones, Rowena. (2012). New media, public relations, and terrorism resilience. In S. Duhé (Ed.), New media and public relations (2nd ed., pp. 126-133). New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
Though Americans believe that counterterrorism measures should be a top priority, most individuals are not taking the proper precautions to protect themselves in the event of a terrorist attack. Traditionally, governments have relied on one-way media to communicate to publics about terrorism, but new media can offer a venue for more two-way, dialogic communication thereby strengthening relationships with publics. Given that no previous comprehensive review of new media and terrorism resilience research exists, this book chapter provides valuable insights for communicators and researchers.
Comprehensive review of theoretical and applied research on new media and terrorism resilience from the fields of public relations, sociology, and terrorism studies.
1) Publics use new media during a crisis event to share information, collectively solve problems, and provide insider information.
2) As indicated in the transtheoretical model, people change their behavior through five stages of action: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. Thus, communication messages should be different for people in different stages of change.
3) Research concludes that self-efficacy, perceptions of what one’s friends and family think, and emergency news exposure are positively associated with possession of emergency items and stages of emergency preparedness. However, more research is needed in a terrorism context, particularly given the rare and unique nature of terrorism incidents.
4) Publics consistently underestimate the likelihood of risks affecting them, and this is particularly true for terrorism because it results with high levels of fear.
5) More research needs to be conducted on the pre-disaster phase, the effects of new media on policy makers, and the impact of new media on the global environment.
Implications for Practice
Resilient communities must have the skills and competencies to deal with a disaster or threat. One way to ensure that the individuals are properly trained in a terrorist event is to offer online training sessions for those who are unable to participate in full-scale drills. These sessions can be livestreamed through a secure online space to guarantee that information is kept private and confidential. Videos of best practices can also be shared among first responders so that they are aware of the proper actions to take during a terrorist attack.
Practitioners should also understand how publics use new media specifically in a terrorism context. In particular, governmental agencies need to further explore how publics use new media tools in a terrorism context, and whether or not this usage is similar or differs from other types of crises. Finally, practitioners need to increase empowerment, collaboration, and involvement. After a terrorist incident, it is even more crucial to increase collective efficacy, create a sense of empowerment, and form partnerships with governmental agencies, local organizations, and community members. By building strong relationships with all parties involved, important decisions can be made efficiently and with a stronger network.
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