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• Invisible Children’s crisis response is explored via social media.
• Social media can play a role in increasing awareness about humanitarian causes.
• Social media can cause organizational crises through threatening legitimacy.
• Social media can facilitate or impede organizational learning.
• How an organization handle’s dual crises can impact policy and support for issues.
Using the ideas of social media activism and organizational learning to guide analysis, this paper explores Invisible Children, Inc.’s social-mediated response to the humanitarian crisis in Central and East Africa, the organizational crisis these responses created, and how the organization responded to these different types of crisis via social media. Key findings include describing their humanitarian crisis response as a “social experiment,” Invisible Children’s personalization of response on social media to their organizational crisis, and the increased transparency Invisible Children demonstrated during and after the crisis. The results of this study demonstrate how social media have the ability to play a key role in increasing awareness about an important humanitarian cause, yet can also threaten the reputation and legitimacy of the organization behind the social-mediated message.
Journal: Public Relations Review - Volume 42, Issue 1, March 2016, Pages 38–48