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COVID and Cuomo: Using the CERC Model to Evaluate Strategic Uses of Twitter on Pandemic Communications

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Pandemic Communication and Resilience

Part of the book series: Risk, Systems and Decisions ((RSD))

Abstract

Social media has presented itself as an essential tool for messaging and communications during health crises, with multiple sources circulating information to the public to steer the masses into a particular direction. The Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Model (CERC) (Reynolds and Seeger, J Health Commun 10:43–55, 2005) has been used to evaluate messaging on social media platforms for effectiveness, as well as providing guidelines on how to arrange pertinent information online. This study will look at Twitter messaging from NYS Governor, Andrew Cuomo, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly looking at the different types of information he gave during five different stages of the pandemic. A total of 406 COVID-related tweets from his official Twitter were collected from January 24, 2020, to April 12, 2020, and thematically analyzed. Tweets were evaluated using the CERC guidelines for relevance, pertinence and overall effectiveness, to “prevent further illness, injury, or death; restores or maintain calm; and engender confidence in the operational response” (Reynolds, J Appl Commun Res 34:249–252, 2006, p. 249). Governor Cuomo followed the majority of the CERC guidelines during different stages of the pandemic but fell the shortest during the initial event phase. Other information like content reactions, shares and likes showed that he received the most engagement during the maintenance phase, but especially when the tweet signified “hope” or reassurance to the public. The implications of this study indicate that public officials can use social media sites, like Twitter, to successfully inform the public in the midst of a modern health crisis. Hopeful messaging is especially well received and utilizing celebrities or well-known figures likeliness in health communications can help reach a broader audience. The use of Twitter for pandemic communications must be coupled and guided with strategic objectives throughout different times that help direct and comfort the public to minimize harm.

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Correspondence to Aisha Powell .

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Powell, A. (2021). COVID and Cuomo: Using the CERC Model to Evaluate Strategic Uses of Twitter on Pandemic Communications. In: Berube, D.M. (eds) Pandemic Communication and Resilience. Risk, Systems and Decisions. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77344-1_7

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