Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management

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Build community before the storm: The National Weather Service's social media engagement

Abstract The current study examines crisis communication on social media by observing how twelve National Weather Service (NWS) offices use Twitter to facilitate engagement with stakeholders during threat and nonthreat periods. Using content analytic methods, we examine message features related to content and structure during a 3‐month period in spring 2016. We conduct chi‐square analyses to determine how the prevalence of these features varies by time. Results indicate that NWS offices use Twitter for ongoing engagement communication through both the content and structure of their messages, where community building and action‐orientated messages are primarily used during nonthreat periods. When fair weather changes and storms approach, the offices shift to the communication of risk. Our findings underscore the need to examine organizational communication practices in a manner that recognizes the distinctions between long‐term engagement goals and short‐term goals related to the mission of the organization.

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