Building Effective Crisis Communications for Disaster Recovery

A Case of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Sichuan, China

by Yue Hu (Author)
©2019 Monographs XX, 168 Pages


Building Effective Crisis Communications for Disaster Recovery: A Case of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Sichuan, China reviews and evaluates public relations (PR) campaigns launched by the Chinese government to facilitate long-term disaster recovery after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. The Discourse of Renewal (DR) theory is employed to guide the study and explore how the Chinese government utilized communication to help communities recover from disaster and promote community growth. Steered by the co-creational perspective, this book also examines the influence of PR campaigns on the public’s situation awareness, attitude agreement, perceived care and concern, and ultimately the public’s relationship with the Chinese government in renewal. In addition to developing and testing a DR evaluation model, this study investigates the communication obstacles that constrain the effectiveness of DR. In-depth interviews, content analysis, and surveys are conducted to analyze the themes, characteristics, effectiveness, and barriers of the campaigns. The findings of Building Effective Crisis Communications for Disaster Recovery include that (1) DR theory, which has heretofore been developed and applied mainly in Western culture, can inform the study of crisis communication in an Eastern culture, especially in China, (2) DR employed in government campaigns can be very powerful in achieving PR goals in crisis renewal, and (3) imbalanced deployment of campaign resources can affect the outcome of DR. This book also discusses the implications of utilizing these findings to better plan and implement long-term DR campaigns.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Building Effective Crisis Communications for Disaster Recovery
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1. Disaster and Crisis Communication
  • Statement of the Problem
  • General Research Question
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Summary and Preview
  • Chapter 2. Theories in Crisis Renewal
  • Disaster and Crisis
  • Disaster
  • Crisis
  • Association Between Disaster and Crisis
  • Crisis Response
  • Threat and Opportunities in Crises
  • Media and Crisis
  • Media Effects
  • Mediatization Theory
  • Mediatization of Crisis
  • Crisis Communication
  • Studies on Crisis Communication
  • Theories in Crisis Communication
  • Discourse of Renewal
  • Conceptualization of DR
  • Theory of DR
  • Themes of DR
  • Characteristics of DR
  • Objectives of DR
  • Conditions of Renewal Discourse
  • Effectiveness Evaluation of DR
  • Risk Communication in Disaster Renewal
  • Communication in Emergency Management
  • Research Questions
  • Cultural and Policy Context
  • Introduction of the Case
  • Introduction of Research Questions
  • Summary and Preview
  • Chapter 3. Methodology to Analyse the Case
  • The Case Study as a Method
  • Complex Social Phenomena
  • Holistic View of Complex Social Phenomena
  • Variety of Evidence
  • Rationale for Selecting the Case
  • The State Council
  • The Provincial Government of Sichuan
  • The City Government of Mianyang
  • The County Government of Beichuan
  • Aid Provinces and Cities
  • Donors and Volunteers
  • Pilot Study
  • The Rationale for a Pilot Study
  • Procedures and Findings
  • Limitations
  • Main Test
  • Mixed Methods in Data Collection
  • In-depth Interview
  • Document Collection
  • Community Survey
  • Reliability and Validity
  • Reliability and Validity of Content Analysis
  • Reliability and Validity of Survey
  • Triangulation of Different Data
  • Summary and Preview
  • Chapter 4. Narratives of the Case
  • The Central Government
  • The Provincial Government of Sichuan
  • Initial Response
  • WPDRR Communication Campaigns
  • The City Government of Mianyang
  • Initial Response
  • WPDRR Communication Campaigns
  • The County Government of Beichuan
  • Initial Response
  • WPDRR Communication Campaigns
  • Summary and Preview
  • Chapter 5. Analysis of the Data
  • Answers to Research Question One
  • DR Themes
  • DR Characteristics
  • DR Objectives
  • Summary of the Findings for RQ1
  • Answers to Research Question Two
  • Demographics
  • Publics’ Perceptions
  • Relationship Between Publics and the Governments
  • Test of the Model
  • Answers to Research Question Three
  • T-test Results
  • Interviews Data
  • Additional Findings
  • Additional DR Theme and Characteristic
  • Additional Puzzle for WPDRR Campaign
  • Summary and Preview
  • Chapter 6. Discussion of the Findings
  • Extensions of the Theory
  • Discussion of the DRE Model
  • Leader-Based vs Non-Leader-Based DR
  • Leadership-Based DR
  • Non-Leadership-Based DR
  • Interwovenness of DR Themes
  • Cultural Consideration in Application of DR
  • Conditions of Successful DR Application
  • Summary and Preview
  • Chapter 7. Conclusions and Implications
  • Conclusions
  • Practical Conclusions
  • Theoretical Conclusions
  • Implications
  • DR as Guidelines for Best Practice in Crisis Communication
  • Cultural Sensitivity in Understanding and Implementing DR
  • External Versus Internal Communication
  • Role of Leadership in Crisis Communication
  • Limitations
  • Future Research
  • Appendix A: Study on Governmental Discourse of Renewal After Wenchuan Earthquake
  • Interview Questions for Government Officials and Media Chief Editors
  • Appendix B: Survey Questionnaire for Residents
  • Section One: Residency
  • Before the Wenchuan Earthquake, 地震前
  • After the Wenchuan Earthquake, 地震后
  • Section Two: General Information Seeking
  • Section Three: Information of Wenchuan Postdisaster Reconstruction and Rehabilitation
  • Section Four: Background Information
  • Before Wenchuan Earthquake, 地震前
  • After the Wenchuan Earthquake, 地震后
  • Index

| xi →


Table 2.1. Themes of Discourse of Renewal

Table 2.2. Characteristics of Discourse of Renewal

Table 2.3. Objectives of Discourse of Renewal

Table 3.1. Methods for Three Research Questions

Table 3.2. Interview Subjects

Table 3.3. DR Theme Coding Form

Table 3.4. DR Characteristics Coding Form

Table 3.5. DR Objectives Coding Form

Table 5.1. Description of Variables in the DRE Model

Table 5.2. Correlation of IVs to the Relational Outcome in the DRE Model

Table 5.3. Correlation Coefficients for Variables in the Revised DRE Model

Table 5.4. Participants’ Relationship With Each Level of Government

Table 6.1. Renewal Cases in the Literature

| xiii →


Figure 2.1. The Discourse of Renewal Evaluation Model

Figure 3.1. The Discourse of Renewal Evaluation Model

Figure 5.1. The Discourse of Renewal Evaluation Model

Figure 5.2. The Revised Discourse of Renewal Evaluation Model

Figure 6.1. The Revised Discourse of Renewal Evaluation Model

| xv →


I would like to thank my professors, colleagues, friends and supporters who have helped to make this book accomplished.

First, I would like to express the deepest appreciation to my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Carl Botan, for guiding me to set high goals for this project and helping me achieve them. I will be forever remembering the standards and attitudes toward scholarship and life that I have learned from him. Dr. Kathy Rowan, as one of my Ph.D. committee members, is one the most valuable persons in my educational career. I hold a special gratitude for her not only for insightful comments, great suggestions or constant encouragement for this project, but also because she serve as a role model—she is exactly the kind of teacher I would like to be. I would like to keep her love, beliefs, strength and strategies in my heart so that I can pass them to my students. I have many thanks to Dr. Zhao Xiaoquan for providing technical support in methodology and emotional support as a friend.

Second, several individuals played important roles in the journey of finding answers to my research questions and sharing them with potential readers. Professor Kaibin Xu working at Wuhan University in P. R. China is the first one who introduced me the case and inspired the first idea of this project. He is also the person who helped me access the community being studied. ← xv | xvi → Dr. Zihao Xu graduated from Renmin University in P. R. China and Yuan Xu, a master student from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in P. R. China did peer-check for my project. Editor, Mark Rose, spent his precious time in training me with proper wording in written English.

Finally, my colleagues and friends have provided tremendous support especially at those challenging moments of this process. I was so touched by their care and concern, their warm hugs and gaze, their encouraging words and smile, and the time they spent with me. I received so much help that I keep wondering what I can do in return. One of the best ways for me to do this, I believe, is to pass kindness and support to those in need.

| xvii →


PR Public Relations

DR Discourse of Renewal

IRT Image Repair Theory

SCCT Situational Crisis Communication Theory

WPDRR Wenchuan Post-Disaster Reconstruction and Rehabilitation

| 1 →

· 1 ·


The world is inevitably faced with a growing number of natural disasters—earthquakes, hurricanes, severe flooding and others (IFRC/RCS, 2016; McEntire, Fuller, Johnston, & Weber, 2002; Pelling, 2003; Quarantelli, 1993; Stallings, 2002). Since the early 1980s the impact of disasters has become significantly greater as the number of killed people has increased and more economic losses have been reported (UNISDR, 2016). From 2001 to 2015, there are 650 reported natural catastrophes per annum which have caused more than 85 thousand deaths and US$121 billion estimated damage per year, with disaster losses increasing sharply in severity comparing with 1990s (IFRC/RCS, 2001, 2006, 2016).


XX, 168
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XX, 168 pp., 5 b/w ill., 13 tables

Biographical notes

Yue Hu (Author)

Hu Yue is Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Xiamen University in P. R. China. She received her MA in communication from Wayne State University in 2008 and her PhD in communication from George Mason University in 2012.


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190 pages