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Role of Social Media in Terrorism Crisis Communication: A Case of Westgate Mall Terror Attack in Nairobi



Terrorism targeting corporate bodies remains one the greatest risks to the most critical intangible asset of any organization: reputation. Thus, effective crisis communication is critical during and after terror crisis to mitigate further damage on the reputation. To date, many studies around the globe have tended to focus on the role of the traditional media during terror crisis, paying minimal attention to organisations' use of social media during terror crisis. Using a descriptive qualitative case study, this study examined the role of social media during 2013 Westgate Mall terror attack, in Nairobi, Kenya. Findings revealed that the Interior Ministry (IM) used Twitter as the preferred social media platform to communicate with various stakeholders. Accommodative crisis response strategies were the most used by the IM. However, the ministry was plagued with inaccuracies and inconsistencies in its responses on social media compromising reputation of the government further. Balancing the need for speedy response, accuracy and consistency, remained the greatest challenge for the IM.
DOI: 10.4018/IJISCRAM.2019010104
Volume 11 • Issue 1 • January-June 2019
Copyright © 2019, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
Stephen Gichuhi Kimotho, United States International University – Africa, Nairobi, Kenya
Carolyne Nyaboe Nyarang’o, Daystar University, Nairobi, Kenya
Terrorism targeting corporate bodies remains one the greatest risks to the most critical intangible
asset of any organization: reputation. Thus, effective crisis communication is critical during and after
terror crisis to mitigate further damage on the reputation. To date, many studies around the globe
have tended to focus on the role of the traditional media during terror crisis, paying minimal attention
to organisations’ use of social media during terror crisis. Using a descriptive qualitative case study,
this study examined the role of social media during 2013 Westgate Mall terror attack, in Nairobi,
Kenya. Findings revealed that the Interior Ministry (IM) used Twitter as the preferred social media
platform to communicate with various stakeholders. Accommodative crisis response strategies were
the most used by the IM. However, the ministry was plagued with inaccuracies and inconsistencies
in its responses on social media compromising reputation of the government further. Balancing the
need for speedy response, accuracy and consistency, remained the greatest challenge for the IM.
Attribution Theory, Crisis Communication, Crisis Communication Strategy, Situational Crisis Communication
Theory, Social Media, Terrorism, Westgate
On September 21st, 2013 masked gunmen stormed Westgate Mall in Nairobi killing at least 67 people
and injuring more than 200 in a hostage situation that lasted for four days. News of the attack broke
out on social media immediately and by afternoon Westgate Mall terror crisis was trending. Despite
updates from Interior Ministry through its Twitter account @InteriorKE, warning Kenyans to keep
off the mall, the nature of the crisis remained vague for a while. The Westgate Mall terror attack was
characterised by the complexity of events on social media and particularly on Twitter. A while later,
images of injured people and dead bodies from the scene began to circulate on Twitter and Facebook
and that is when it became apparent that Westgate Mall was under terror attack. The Somalia-based
and Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group known as Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack
through its Twitter account. From emergency rescue by the Kenya Red Cross, to military operations,
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to government statements and media interviews, to victims and survivors’ accounts of the attack, to
speculations and rumours about the attack; all were covered in detail by various social media platforms.
As Simon et al. (2014) observes social media, and mainly Twitter, have emerged as significant,
near real-time channels of passing critical information across various stakeholders during crisis
situations. Social media allows the stakeholders to exchange crisis news, conversations, opinions and
also exchange user generated content; qualities that make them preferred channels for the stakeholders.
Empirical studies on the use of social media during and after a terrorist attack have tended to
focus on diverse themes. For instance, numerous scholars have focused on the user and usage of social
media platforms during and after terror attack. For instance, using a case study analysis of social
reactions to the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 in London; Innes, Roberts, Preece, and Rogers
(2018) identified 10-Rs of post-attack social reaction in cyberspace, which consists of Reporting,
Requesting, Responding, Recruiting, Risking, Retaliating, Rumouring, Remembering, Reheating,
and Resiliencing. Other studies on user and usage of social media include: Fischer, Eismann, and
Fischbach (2016); Smyrnaios and Ratinaud (2017); Dobreva and Innes (2019); Bunker, Mirbabaie,
and Stieglitz (2017).
Another area of focus by scholars has been on sense making. Studies on sense making are often
informed by the fact that terrorism crises, like all other forms of abrupt crises, create uncertainty
which leads to knowledge gaps. In a bid to bridge such gaps, stakeholders, through social media
communication, resort to sense making communication events. Among the studies in this category
include: Mirbabaie and Zapatka (2017); Stieglitz, Bunker, Mirbabaie, and Ehnis, (2018); and Stieglitz,
et al., (2017). Studies mainly from media scholars have tended to focus mainly on framing of terror
messages by the users as well as the strategies used by journalists and editors to verify user-generated
content during terrorist crises. Scholars in this category include: Rauchfleisch, Artho, Metag, Post,
and Schäfer, (2017); Wasike, (2013); and Kwon, Chadha, and Pellizzaro, (2017).
Coombs (2015) contended that terror crisis poses a significant reputation damage to the
organization involved. Reputation refers to the sum of all perceptions that stakeholders have of
the organization. As such, in the event of a crisis, the organization employs various crisis response
strategies to mitigate further damage to its reputation. Scholarly work focusing on how organizations
(particularly government or governmental organizations), use social media platforms to mitigate
reputation damage, during and after terrorism attack, are limited, and the few that exist were carried
out in the developed countries. An example of such studies include Crijns, Cauberghe, and Hudders,
(2017) who studied terrorism threat in Belgium and the resilience of Belgian citizens and the protection
of governmental reputation by means of communication.
Crijns, Cauberghe, and Hudders study is relevant to the current study and provides a spring board
in our attempt to address the dearth of scholarly research on how organization use crisis response
strategies, through social media platform (like Twitter) to mitigate further reputation damage during
and after terror crisis. Towards that goal, this descriptive qualitative study of the Westgate terror attack
set out to achieve two key objectives: i) to describe the response strategies used by the government
of Kenya through the Interior Ministry’s to protect its reputation on social media; and iii) to describe
the public’s (social media users’) perception of the attribution of responsibility for the crisis.
A crisis is an unpredictable event that presents real or potential negative outcomes such as financial loss,
deaths and injuries and reputation damage for organisations, their stakeholders, and their industries
(Coombs, 2012). Terror crises are intentionally caused and often attract significant attention from
the media and other stakeholders. Terrorism refers to the use of violence as a method of combat
with political aims and motives designed to have far-reaching economic, social and psychological
repercussions, beyond the immediate victim or target (Hoffman, 2006), The 2015 Global Terrorism
Index (GTI) paints a gleam picture of the global status of terrorism. According to the GTI report
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(2015), the total number of deaths from terrorism in 2014 reached 32,685; an 80 per cent increase
from 18,111 in 2013.
Out of 162 countries affected by terrorism, Kenya is ranked number 12 with a high score of 6.58/
10 on the impact of terrorism. Terrorist attacks in Kenya date as far back as the 1970s, with some
of the most traumatic terror attacks occurring in the 1990s and 2000s. According to a 2015 report
by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), there
were more than 440 terrorist attacks in Kenya between 1970 and 2014. These attacks killed more
than 1,400 people and wounded more than 5,800 others.
Corporate bodies have often become soft targets for terror groups. During terror attacks, corporate
bodies incur huge numbers of casualties and the destruction of tangible assets. The 2013 Westgate
terror attack carried out by the Al-Shabaab militia led to the death of 67 people and injury to 201
others (GTI, 2014). According to a report by the Business Daily dated Monday October 20, 2016,
the Westgate terror attack cost insurers over Ksh10 billion in claims. Beyond the tangible assets,
corporate bodies suffer huge losses on the intangible assets particularly reputation. Other long-term
effects include drop in tourism revenue and shifts in political opinions.
Traditionally, crisis communication was experienced through the news media like TV, newspapers
or radio. However, the advent of the Internet has led to important changes in crisis communication
(Coombs, 2012). There is a shift in how information is collected, processed and disseminated by
the organizations as well as the stakeholders. The Internet with its communication channels such as
websites, discussion boards, blogs, micro blogs, chat rooms, and social networking sites (social media),
among others, has accelerated the scope and pace of crisis communication (Anthonissen, 2008).
Social media are forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities
to share, ideas, insights, experiences opinions, personal messages and other content.
In Kenya, the overall number of Internet users in Kenya rose to 17.38 million in 2013 from less
than 10 million in 2011 (Ndavula & Mueni, 2014). According to The State of Blogging and Social
Media Report (2017), Facebook and Twitter are the most used social media platforms in Kenya, with
over 4.3 million users on the Facebook and between 2.8 million to 4.2 million monthly active users
(MAUs) on Twitter.
With the widespread use of social media in the society, terrorism crises often receive huge attention
and become amplified. Arguably, social media have had tremendous inf luence in the development
of corporate crises and crisis communications in general (Gonzalez-Herrero & Smith, 2008; Laad
& Lewis, 2012; Matthee, 2011). Similarly, social media have had influences on how terrorism crises
emerge and take form, and the response strategies and the requirements of crisis communications
by the affected organisations.
The implication of this is that, crisis managers who traditionally had several hours to prepare
a response now have just more than a few minutes to deliver an accurate response. Effective
crisis communication management should seek to evoke positive responses from stakeholders
by meeting their information needs or providing appropriate responses to those needs within
media coverage (Coombs, 2007b). So organizations must know which response strategies work
best during certain crisis.
In this study the authors look at organization as an entity comprising persons, structures or
institutions, and has a particular purpose. According to March (2013), an “organization” is an
arrangement of interdependent parts, each having a special function with respect to the whole.
Following March definition, therefore, the authors can talk of various types of organizations: small
or big, national or multinational, and governmental or non-governmental organizations. Indeed,
the entire government is an organization because a defining characteristic of the social entity
known as an organization is, as the name suggests, its state of being organized (March, 2013).
This study focused on how the government as an organization used social media such as Twitter,
in responding to terrorism crisis. To do this, the researchers were guided by Coomb’s situational
crisis communication theory (SCCT).
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SCCT draws upon attribution theory to make the connection between crisis- response strategies
and crisis types. Attribution theory holds that people seek reasons for events, especially negative
events. People seek to understand why something has occurred (Coombs, 2017). Coombs further
argues that crisis responsibility, that is, the degree to which stakeholders attribute responsibility for
the crisis to the organization in crisis, is the pivotal variable in SCCT. SCCT posits that the amount
of crisis responsibility generated by the crisis situation determines the nature of the crisis response
that will be appropriate for the crisis. An appropriate response serves to protect the organization from
reputational damage (Coombs, 2017).
According to Coombs, the three factors that create a potential threat to an organisation’s
reputation are its responsibility for the crisis, its crisis history, and its prior relational reputation.
SCCT recommends that crisis communicators examine the crisis type and the intensifying factors
to assess the probable crisis responsibility stakeholders will attribute to the organization in crisis.
Intensifying factors cause people to increase their attributions of crisis responsibility. Crisis history
(that is, whether or not an organization has had similar crises previously) and prior reputation
(whether the organization was perceived unfavourably before the crisis) are proven intensifying
factors (Coombs, 2007, Elliot, 2010). A history of crises or an unfavourable precrisis reputation will
intensify stakeholder attributions of crisis responsibility (Coombs, 2007).
The goal of the SCCT is to match an organisation’s response strategy to the nature of the crisis
situation as warranted by the crisis responsibility and possible reputational damage. Coombs posits
that response strategies are to be selected according to the perceived acceptance of responsibility for
a crisis by an organisation (Cooley & Cooley, 2011). Crisis response strategies have three objectives
relative to protecting reputations which include shaping attributions of the crisis, changing perceptions
of the organisation in crisis and reducing the negative effect generated by the crisis (Coombs, 2012).
SCCT posits that there are three primary reputation- repair strategies: denial, diminish, and
rebuild. Denial strategies seek to disconnect the organization from the crisis. If the organization has
no responsibility for the crisis, the crisis should not harm the organization (Benoit, 1995):
1. Denial response strategies: According to Coombs (2017), denial should be reserved for
misinformation crises - when false information is being spread about an organization. Denial
strategy has three sub-strategies: Attack the accuser: confront those saying negative things about
the organization); denial (deny any responsibility for the crisis); and scapegoating (blame some
other party for the crisis);
2. Diminish strategies: These strategies attempt to reinforce the view that the organization has
low responsibility for the crisis. Diminish strategy has two sub strategies: Excuse (minimize
organizational responsibility by denying the intention to do harm or denying the ability
to control the situation); Justification (attempt to minimize the perception of the damage
inflicted by the crisis);
3. Rebuild strategies: Seek to create positive information about the organization and include
apologies and compensation. SCCT identifies two strategies: Compensation (give victims
aid, material goods, or money); and apology (publicly take responsibility for the crisis and
ask for forgiveness);
4. Bolstering strategies: Bolstering involves attempts to flatter those who have helped with the
crisis or to remind stakeholders of past good works by the organization (Benoit, 1995). Bolstering
strategies attempt to create positive perceptions of the organization. According to SCCT, this
strategy has three sub strategies: Reminding (remind stakeholders of past organizational good
works); Ingratiating (praise stakeholders for helping during the crisis); Victimage (indicate the
organization is also a victim in the crisis).
SCCT suggests that these crisis responses strategies vary on a defensive-accommodative
continuum. Accommodative statements show that management accepts responsibility for a crisis
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and takes actions to remedy the situation. The following is a list of crisis responses strategies as
described by SCCT, from defensive, to the most accommodative reputation repair strategies: i) attack
the accuser, ii) denial, iii) scapegoat, iv) excuse, v) justification, vi) reminder, vii) ingratiation, viii)
compensation, and ix) apology. pensation, and ix) apology. As such, how an organization responds to a
crisis varies by what strategy it takes along the continuum, from the repertoire of strategies described
above - from the most defensive, to the most accommodative in the eyes of key stakeholders (Kim,
Johnson, & Park, 2017).
According to Coombs (2017), the perception of responsibility is an attributional process and shares
a natural connection with the attribution theory. Charges that a corporation is acting irresponsibly
can become a threat to corporate reputation. Understanding the attributions, thus, is critical to any
organization in crisis because such attributions will shape and affect behaviours directed toward the
organization in crisis (Coombs 1995, 2007a). Various factors in the crisis situation may shape the
crisis attributions stakeholders might make about the crisis.
Research has consistently demonstrated that increased attributions of crisis responsibility produce
lower reputational scores – is a greater reputational threat (Coombs & Holladay, 1996, 2002, 2004).
The initial assessment is based upon the crisis type. The crisis type is how the crisis is being framed.
Frames are cues that stakeholders use to interpret crises (Coombs & Holladay, 2002; Dowling, 2002).
A crisis type is a frame that indicates how people should interpret the crisis events. Was the event an
accident, sabotage, or criminal negligence?
The SCCT argue that there two main factors to consider when assessing how stakeholders attribute
responsibilities: identifying the crisis type; and performance history (performance history is made
of crisis history and prior reputation/relationship history):
Crisis types: There are three types of crisis clusters that create specific and predictable levels of
crisis responsibility (Coombs, 2007, 2015). i) Victim cluster which results in low attributions of
crisis responsibility and low reputational threat; in fact, the organisation itself is seen a victim. ii)
Accidental cluster, which results in minimal attributions of crisis responsibility. The organisation
is held accountable but the event is considered unintentional or uncontrollable. iii) Intentional/
preventable cluster, where the stakeholders strongly believe that the organisation is responsible
for the crisis. The organisation faces strong attributions of purposeful crisis responsibility;
Performance history: In addition, to these base set types of crisis, there are two intensifying
factors under the performance history. These are history of crisis and a prior negative
reputation. If the organisation has had similar prior crises, or a negative reputation existed
before the current crisis, people attribute greater responsibility for the crisis. Four reputational
attributes could be used to analyse the public’s perception of attribution of responsibility.
These include: competence, accuracy and consistency. Being consistent is another way
to build credibility. Consistency is often called speaking with one voice. Inconsistencies
create confusion and make crisis managers appear to be incompetent (Coombs, 2017).
Accuracy builds credibility while inaccuracy erodes it. Furthermore, misinformation can
place stakeholders at risk. For instance, releasing erroneous details during terror attack
could expose the stakeholders to harm or create unnecessary panic and anxiety. Inaccuracy
can penalize both the organization in crisis and its stakeholders. Competence refers to the
perceived ability of the organization or representatives of organization in crisis, to manage
the crisis and crisis communication successfully or efficiently.
Drawing from these theoretical insights the study sought to respond to the following
research questions:
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Q1: What were the defensive crisis response strategies used by the government to protect its reputation
during the Westgate terrorist attack?
Q2: What were the accommodative crisis response strategies used by the government to protect its
reputation during the Westgate terrorist attack?
Q3: What were the public’s perceptions attribution of the Westgate terrorist attack?
A descriptive qualitative case study was used to carry out the study. The study used SCCT as the
theoretical framework upon which the data was executed. The study focused on the government
response strategies from five Twitter accounts composed of offices and officers under the Ministry
of Interior that actively responded to the Westgate Mall terrorist attack. They include: Ministry of
Interior -, Ministry of Interior Cabinet Secretary-
joelenku, Kenya Police -, Inspector General of Police - https://Twitter.
com/IGkimaiyo, and the National Disaster Operations Centre -
Only the Ministry of Interior Twitter account (@InteriorKE), of the five responding Twitter accounts
was sampled. This was because Ministry of Interior Twitter account was identified and verified as
the lead office responding on behalf of the government during the Westgate Mall terror attack. The
Interior Ministry twitted about 1,576 times during the four days of the siege. This number averaged to
394 tweets per day. Thus, an estimated 1,970 tweets were sampled to establish government strategies.
Non-probability purposive sampling was used. Sampling was limited to the initial five days of the
terrorist attack. The Westgate Mall attack began on 21st September 2013 and lasted four days until 24th
September 2013. All tweets posted between 21st September and 25th September 2013 by the Interior
Ministry via its Twitter account, @InteriorKE, were sampled. Tweets for each day were spelt out as
21st September (Day 1), 22nd September (Day 2), 23rd September (Day 3), 24th September (Day 4)
and 25th September (Day 5). This division was necessary for monitoring progression in government
response strategies and crisis perception.
This study utilised secondary qualitative data consisting of sentences and phrases forming a
tweet. For picture tweets, captions were used as the unit of analysis. Further, for tweets with links to
a document or video the subject or the title was used as the unit of analysis. The researcher looked
for crisis communication themes in the sentences and phrases.
The qualitative data analysis framework was guided by Miles and Huberman (2014). The coding
scheme for the study was based on the Coomb’s (2012) SCCT model. The codes were composed
of defensive strategies (sub-strategies include: denial, attack the accuser, excuses, victimage);
accommodative strategies (sub-strategies include: ingratiation, apology, compensation, corrective
action); and four reputational attributes were used to analyse the public’s perception of attribution
of responsibility. These include: competence, accuracy and consistency. Outgoing tweets were
sampled and coded for defensive and accommodative strategies while incoming tweets were
coded for crisis perception of attribution of responsibility variables. Coding and data management
were done using NVIVO 11.
Coding was done at two levels: first cycle coding and the second cycle coding (Saldaña, 2015).
During the first cycle coding segments of data was summarize. In the second cycle coding the
summarized data was grouped into several smaller themes. The second cycle coding was theory driven.
Crisis responses strategies as described in the SCCT theory were used to guide the process. The key
crisis response strategies and their subcategories were coded using NVIVO 11. These strategies are
described and illustrated in the next section.
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The findings indicate that the Interior Ministry sent a total of 1,190 tweets on social media through
its @InteriorKE Twitter account in dealing with the terrorism crisis it encountered from September
21st through to September 25th, 2013.
The second day of the terrorism crisis, 22nd September, recorded the highest number of tweets.
This could be attributed to the fact that the second day fell under the chronic stage of a crisis as
explained by Fink (1986). The following section presents the findings as per the research questions.
The findings indicate that four defensive response sub-strategies were used by the government. These
include denial, attack the accuser, excuses, and victimage:
1. Denial: The denial strategy represents a set of strategies that claim no crisis occurred or that
the accused organisation has no responsibility for the crisis (Coombs, 2007). They are used
to lessen the organisation’s involvement in the crisis. At the onset of Westgate Mall crisis, the
Interior Ministry intervened in public discussion on Twitter by denying that there were shootings
at the mall as exemplified in this excerpt: “Reports of shooting anyone is (are) incorrect, kindly
wait for official communication. @MikePflanz: your headline 10 dead on @Telegrapgh is
misleading.” The use of denial strategy too soon after a crisis without confirming the facts could
result to inaccuracies and further create uncertainty that can cost an organisation its reputation as
demonstrated in this tweet by Salvor Hardin question accuracy of the data released by Red Cross,
“Red Cross is already reporting 20 dead.” Interior Ministry had to correct the communication
through this tweet: “We haven’t denied a shout-out, there was a non-factual report which we
have corrected them. Thanks.”
2. Attack the accuser: Attack the accuser strategies are designed to confront the person or group
claiming that a crisis exists (Coombs, 2015). Attack the accuser strategy was used against negative
reactions arising during the crisis including online racial/tribal slurs or cyber bullying, interference
from the media, and terrorism propaganda on social media. In its response to terrorism propaganda
on social media and as a counter strategy, the ministry sent out several statements exuding the
power, courage and pride of the Kenyan people. Such statements contained messages such as:
“Though we cry & weep as a nation, we shall STAND as ONE. We will defend and protect our
beloved country.”; “It is during times of trial & tribulation that we truly understand who we
are & what we cherish.” To counter cyber-attacks on volunteers in the rescue efforts, Interior
Ministry used attack the accuser strategy to safeguard volunteers’ image by sending messages
that sought to move negative criticism away from volunteers in the rescue efforts. For instance:
A lady has been cooking tea for the agencies near #Westgate all morning and someone dares
criticise that? Watu wakue na adabu (People should show respect).”
3. Excusing: Excuses are statements that argue that the accused organisation should not be held
responsible for the occurrence and/or impact of the questionable event (Bradford & Garret, 1995).
The findings of this study show that the Interior Ministry did not explicitly make excuses for the
attack. Instead, the Interior Ministry used a variant of this strategies to place the country as part
of a larger, global terrorism problem as can be seen in this tweet, “We need to work together to
fight the terrorist battle. This is not a Kenyan war; this is an international war.”
4. Victimage: This strategy is closely related to the excuse strategy discussed previously. It involves
portraying self as victim of crisis rather than take responsibility (Coombs, 2007). The aim of
this strategy is to builds sympathy for the organisation (Coombs, 2015). Some of the tweets used
by the Interior Ministry employed the victimage strategy in bid to elicit sympathy include: “We
went as nation to Somalia to fight the war against terror unleashed on Kenyan people, Somali
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people and people around the world.” and “This is one attempt that has succeeded, they have been
numerous attempts that have been thwarted.” These tweets are aimed at positioning the country
as a victim of terror. Other victimage statements aimed at cultivating vengeance included: “They
shall not get away with their despicable, beastly acts, President @UKenyatta #Westgate”; “Like
the cowardly perpetrators now cornered in the building, we will punish the masterminds swiftly
and painfully, President @UKenyatta.”
Four sub-themes emerged from the data under the theme of accommodative response strategies:
ingratiation, apology, compensation, and corrective action:
1. Ingratiation: The ingratiation strategies are designed to win stakeholders’ support for the
organisation and reduce negative feelings toward the organisation (Coombs, 2015). There are
three ingratiation tactics that an organisation can employ: accentuating the positive, creating
identification between the organisation and its stakeholders, and acknowledge others positively
(Stephens, Malone, & Bailey, 2005). Of the three, ‘create identification between the organisation
and its stakeholders was the most utilized. Here the Interior Ministry attempted to become
identified with symbols, values or institutions, which have a strong base of public acceptance.
The Interior Ministry focused on reminding the public of their identity and appealed to their
patriotism. Tweets from the data that bore this strategy contained messages such as: “E Mungu nguvu
yetu, ilete baraka kwetu, haki iwe ngao na mlinzi, natukae na undugu amani na uhuru, raha tupate na
ustawi”. [Oh God of all creations, bless this our land and nation, justice be our shield and defender,
may we dwell in unity, peace and liberty, plenty be found within our borders] and “My land is Kenya,
home of beauty, home of strength, together we can #WithOneAccord.”
2. Apology: Apology is the most complex and perhaps controversial of the crisis response strategies.
Apology components could occur in a number of ways including as: a statement of remorse,
an account or description of events, a description of damage, an offer of reparation, an explicit
statement of responsibility, a request for forgiveness, self-castigation and a promise not to repeat
the same offense (Gibney, Howard-Hassmann, Coicaud, & Steiner, 2008). In addition, apology
can be either full or partial. A full apology acknowledges the crisis, accept responsibility, and
include a promise not to repeat the crisis, and express concern and regret (Kellerman, 2006).
A partial apology looks like an apology but does not take responsibility for a crisis. Partial
apology is accomplished through expression of trust, compassion, commitment, and interactivity.
Analysis of the data revealed that the Interior Ministry attempted to provide information of the
ministry’s efforts to resolve the crisis through its Twitter account @InteriorKE. Examples of Ministry’s
trust and commitment tweets contained statements such as, “We have also tightened security in all
shopping malls in the city and we reassure Kenyans that Govt [government] will not relent on this
war”; “Kenyatta: I ask for your understanding”, “We shall triumph”.
The Interior Ministry made great effort to show compassion, empathy and concern. The ministry
tweets contained messages of condolence and messages that showed that they cared about the
victims and the victims’ families. The ministry aimed at showing, on the one hand, that they shared
the suffering on one hand and on the other hand to prove that the government was also a victim in
the crisis. Messages of compassion contained phrases such as, “To the families of those who have
lost their loved ones, our deepest condolences”, “Those who are recovering from minor and major
injuries, we stand with you during this time”, “We are focusing on saving lives.”
Volume 11 • Issue 1 • January-June 2019
The ministry also emphasised the need for the media and social media users to be sensitive is
discussing the issues related to the crisis through messages such as “We urge those of us who have
posted graphic images to kindly remove them so as to observe positive solidarity with the affected
families” Kindly be sensitive to the feelings of those affected in different ways.” This way, the
ministry was able to present a caring and conversational voice with the public. The direct and real-
time nature of social media and the dynamically personal touch through photo and video sharing,
chatting, and conversation, makes it an ideal supplemental touch point between stakeholders and
crisis communicators.
Interactivity is the possibility for people to communicate directly, independent of time and place
(Stafford & Faber, 2005). Direct sharing of information in a timely manner can relieve uncertainty.
The findings of this study indicate that the Interior Ministry emphasised interactivity in six ways.
First, the ministry announced schedules of press conferences and video links to the press conferences
such as, “President @UKenyatta will be addressing a press conference, at State House Nairobi, at
4pm today.” Second, the ministry shared links to organisation websites and social media sites that
contained information relevant to the crisis such as press releases and speeches including, a copy of
President Kenyatta speech. Third, the ministry shared pictures of the ongoing rescue operations with
messages such as, “#WithOneAccord: Our resilience, our spirit. Nh9AhESns.”
Fourth, the ministry shared various forms of contact information such as helpdesk locations and
contact numbers, hotline numbers, donation accounts, emergency contacts and authoritative sources
of information.” These are the numbers people should call for info on relatives and friends.” Fifth, the
ministry responded directly to individual concerns through messages such as, “@wabros @NiNanjira
yes the president is very concerned. You’ll hear from him soon.” Sixth, the ministry promoted
interactivity through instructing information and by encouraging people to retweet its tweets and
using suffixes such as ‘Alert’, or ‘Update.’ For example, “ALERT: We would like to warn Kenyans
online from speculating on false information about the attack until official statement is issued. Pls
RT [please retweet].
Commitment is defined as the extent to which an organisation in a crisis spends time to reassure,
maintain and promote a relationship with its stakeholders (Huang, 2008). By demonstrating its
commitment to resolve the crisis and secure the country, the Interior Ministry demonstrated
commitment in the following ways: Firstly, by emphasising the rescue progress of the security agents
and emergency services. Tweets communicating rescue efforts progress contained messages such as,
“Some hostages evacuated. Gunfight still ongoing”, “@PoliceKE has taken charge of the ground floor,
we’ll be evacuating more victims cc@KenyaRedCross”. Secondly, the ministry also communicated its
commitment to secure the Mall through statements such as: “We’re here until #Westgate is secure”;
All efforts are underway to bring this matter to as speedy conclusion”; “We won’t rest until the
situation is arrested”. Thirdly, the ministry communicated the government’s commitment to fight
terrorism and secure the country by emphasising the president’s speeches and other political leaders.
Example of messages communicating commitment from political leaders contained phrases such as,
“We shall not relent on the war on terror. If (they) thought this would intimidate us, they have just
renewed the fight.”
3. Compensation: Compensation is often used to reduce offensiveness of an action through
positive reinforcements such as money, goods, or services to the victims to help counteract
audiences’ negative feelings toward an offensive act (Coombs, 2015). The Interior Ministry
offered remediation to the victims and survivors of the attack. There were three modes of
remediation offered by the ministry and this was in the form of counselling services, cash
donations, and relief on fees for services required. Messages illustrating remediation through
counselling services included; “Friends if anyone needs counselling you can refer them to @
KPsyA the professional body for Kenya Psychologists.” In remediation through cash donations,
the ministry facilitated putting in place a system for donation in partnership with Safaricom
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Kenya Limited through a Twitter campaign dubbed #WeAreOne. The system successfully
raised Ksh 60 million in four days. Messages encouraging cash donations included, “We have
set up a special zero rated MPESA number -848484- for Kenyans to send their donation for
the victims of #WestgateMall tragedy.
4. Corrective Action: Corrective action promises to fully repair or correct the problem as
Benoit (2014) explained by restoring the state of affairs back to the existing state before the
offensive act took place and/or promising to prevent the recurrence of the offensive act. In
the case of this study, the Interior Ministry took the following reactive steps: First, rescued
hostages were screened before being allowed into the public. This was meant to ensure that
no terrorist disguised as one of the hostages. Second, the ministry intensified vigilance in
all major towns and entry points and rigorous verification of identification documents at the
Immigration Department. Third, the ministry fast-tracked and revitalised the national and
regional counter terrorism strategy and disaster management, with the implementation of
the Nyumba Kumi (know your neighbour) security initiative as the pioneer project. Tweets
illustrating corrective action included: “IG David Kimaiyo: We are not taking chances,
the rescued hostages are being screened #WestgateMallUnderSiege”, “InspectorGeneral:
Security forces have intensified vigilance in all major towns. Vehicle traffic is also under
surveillance to intercept criminals.” The willingness to correct or prevent recurrence of the
problem can improve the organisation’s reputation (Coombs, 2012).
The SCCT has described two ways of helping organizations to understand stakeholders’ perceptions
of responsibility. This is done by: identifying the crisis type; assessing the crisis performance history;
(performance history is made of crisis history and prior reputation/relationship history):
1. Crisis type: The initial assessment is based upon the crisis type. The following crisis clusters have
been defined by Coombs (2015) and acted as a guide to the analysis: victim cluster, accidental
cluster, intentional/preventable cluster. These clusters have been discussed elsewhere in this paper.
The findings of this study revealed that majority of the people who tweeted categorised the attack
under the victim cluster. Example of tweets that in this category include: “@markimwa: For how
long will #AlShabaab cause us to cry here in #Kenya. We have to deal with this once and for all
cc. #Westgate #WestgateAttack.” These tweets illustrate that the perception of the crisis by the
public was that the Kenya was a victim of terrorism. Further, many of the tweets portrayed Al
Shaabab’s attack on Westgate Mall as maliciously and aimed at forcing the government of Kenya
to withdraw Kenya Defense Forces out of Somalia; “@angiekastone: Somalia’s Al-Shabaab says
attack at #Westgate is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience from Kenya
army in Somalia”. There was no evidence of accidental cluster or intentional/preventable cluster.
The government of Kenya was perceived by the public as a victim of the ever increasing terror
threats in the world;
2. Performance history: The first aspect of performance history is the crisis history. The data
analysis revealed that many Twitter users were aware that Kenya had been facing an upsurge
of terror attacks since late 2011 mainly orchestrated Al Shaabab group, from Somalia in
retaliation to ‘Operation Linda Nchi by Kenya Defence Forces (a coordinated military mission
between Somalia military and Kenya military that began in October 2011 in the conflict
zones of southern Somalia). Brian Bruno, a Kenyan on Twitter, stated, @brayeaux: It is
a sad state of affairs that the Al Shabaab that we tried to get rid of are behind the spate
of killings very sad”, “@dumpendebat: Analysis: Somalia’s Al Shabaab hits back with a
vengeance #Kenya #Westgate.”
Volume 11 • Issue 1 • January-June 2019
Other members of public sent tweets that expressed perception of liability on the part of the
ministry: “Negligent Failure to Plan”. This liability is based on the 1970 Occupational Safety and
Health Act (Headley, 2005; as cited in Coombs, 2012). By not taking precautions to prevent the
Westgate Mall terror attack as advocated by this Act, the Interior Ministry was considered negligent,
therefore significantly increasing attribution of responsibility. For example, tweets such as “@
williamsjon: US Embassy officials had expressed concerns over faulty security at #Westgate Mall to
Kenyan”. Some tweets appeared to suggest a systemic failure emanating
from the corruption at the Interior Ministry, for instance: “@PeterOpondo: yes #WeAreOne but if we
continue supporting a corrupt #police system, ultimately #WeShallBeDestroyed, #WestgateAttack”.
The second aspect of performance history is relationship history or prior reputation. Relationship
history is concerned with how the organisation has treated its stakeholders in the past. The present
study employed four reputational attributes to analyse the public’s perception of reputation relations
with the Interior Ministry. These include: competence, accuracy and consistency. Competence: Data
analysis revealed that the public perceived the Interior Ministry as lacking the level of professionalism
required to handle matters of security. Messages such as, “@charlesjb1: #Westgate the way our
police always respond to security threats hmm. Report a threat you get a big yawn then you are told
to come tomorrow”, suggest incompetence and lack of enthusiasm by Interior Ministry in handling
the security of the country. As Coombs (2012) states, preparedness is an important aspect under the
perception on competence. The attack duration under study is replete with messages which suggested
that the Kenyan public felt that the Interior Ministry was unprepared to tackle the crisis. Notably:
“@dumpendebat: Deadly mall assault caught police off guard”; “@martinirenes:
#WestgateSeige is a clear show of how unprepared we are.
While analysing accuracy and consistency it emerged from the data that there were messages
that gave the public the impressions that the Interior Ministry failed to give an accurate and consistent
account of the events. Such tweets include: “@carlyn_ukiyo: Ok. So are the deceased 11, 20 or 26?
Was the time 11am, 12.45 or 1pm? Why so many conflicting reports, I’m getting angrier now!”; “@
fahmidamiller: while PS earlier denied foreign assistance, @Mikesonko confirms Mossad assisting
rescue efforts at #Westgate.”
There seems to be consensus among researchers that an organisation’s actions and response strategies
have a significant impact on the organisation’s reputation (Coombs, 2007). Crisis response strategies
are used to repair the reputation, to reduce adverse effects and to prevent negative behavioural
intentions (Coombs, 2010). An organisation’s reputation depends on its response to a crisis. In this
case, the reputation of the Interior Ministry largely depended on how it responded to the Westgate
Mall terror attack. For an organisation to secure its reputation, Coombs and Holladay (2012) proposed
a defensive-accommodative strategy.
The findings of this study indicate that the Interior Ministry exploited both defensive crisis
response strategies as well as accommodative strategies. The defensive strategies widely utilized by
the Interior Ministry were denial, attack the accuser, excusing and victimage. The accommodative
strategies mostly exploited, by Interior Ministry included ingratiation, and partial apologies such
as compassion and concern, to acknowledge the pain of the victims’ families, and the efforts of the
various emergency service providers and security agencies. The use of partial apologies and mentions
of better future, was not surprising as the Kenyan Interior Ministry was facing the deadliest terror
attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi. The use of these strategies allowed the
Interior Ministry to talk about their success in neutralising the adverse effects of the terror attack and
hopefully sustain the promise that, the ministry was capable of securing the safety of all Kenyans,
which was a major focal point of the Interior Ministry strategy.
Volume 11 • Issue 1 • January-June 2019
The only way government could govern effectively, is when there is goodwill from the people it
governs. A government’s credibility is its only asset (Offensicht, 2012). Reputation is at the heart of
any government’s credibility, something the interior Ministry seemed to understand very well. If the
government as an organization is deemed responsible for the terror attack, its reputation would suffer.
In turn, the citizen may turn against the government and even create a civil strife. The government
used several defensive strategies to protect its reputation. They include: denial, excuse, attack the
accuser and victimage.
Denial strategies are often used to lessen the organisation’s involvement in the crisis, and perhaps
reduce the attribution of responsibility. However, they are perhaps some of the trickiest crisis response
strategies because they could easily result in a double crisis; for instance, when the crisis response
creates a more damaging situation than the initial crisis (Frandsen & Johansen, 2010). As illustrated in
the finding sections, the Interior Ministry made several in accurate reports. Such inaccuracies tended
to create a perception of untrustworthiness and lowers the credibility of the Interior Ministry, thus
impacting negatively on its reputation. The Interior Ministry was constantly put to task by Twitter
users, to make clarifications, and give the correct information. The ability of the stakeholders to reject
or criticise information that is perceived inaccurate or misleading has resulted to organization being
more careful before releasing information to the public.
Contrary to the recommendations of Coombs (2007) that in low responsibility crises that result
in loss of lives or serious injuries, organisations should take a more accommodative stance, the
Interior Ministry employed more defensive strategies (excusing and victimage strategies) during
the Westgate Mall terror attack. The ministry used excuse strategies to create the perception that
the government of Kenya was simply one of many global victims of terrorism, while at the same
time expressing national suffering. These findings corroborate the findings of Cooley and Cooley
(2011) who found out that GM used the excuse strategy to place the company within the context of a
larger global suffering economy in the financial crisis. The aim here was to remind stakeholders that
everyone was suffering and the reviving the company would actually be beneficial to the country as
a whole. Johnson and Sellnow (1995) too, found that Exxon Valdez president portrayed the company
as a victim of government bureaucracy in the oil spill crisis. There seems to be consensus among
the scholars that excuse and victimage strategies from the defensive continuum, could be used in a
terrorism crisis too, albeit cautiously.
To respond to cyber bullying and wild rumours circulating on social media platforms, the
ministry used attack the accuser and denial strategies. In attacking one’s accuser, on the other hand,
an organization argues for the lack of credibility in an effort to show that the accuser is not trustworthy
and is attempting to harm the organization reputation for some other reason Coombs, 2010). In this
case the attack the accuser strategy is used to shift public attention to the accusers by bringing into
question the motivation or the moral basis of an accusation. These findings are consistent with the
findings in the case of Brown and Williams (B&W) where the organisation called out Wigand as a
master of deceit in the whistle blower case. B&W portrayed Wigand as a person motivated by personal
gain (Carter, 1995; as cited in King III, 2006).
In a unique way of using this strategy, the Interior Ministry employed messages that were aimed
at attacking the core of terrorism propaganda of spreading fear and panic. Thus working towards
defeating one of the core objectives of terror groups: to spread fear, panic and a sense of insecurity.
The implication of this is that, attack the accuser and denial strategies from the defensive continuum
may not be used as a direct response to a terrorism crisis, but these two strategies can be used to
navigate the challenges arising during crisis communication management on social media.
Accommodative strategies inherently address concerns of victims and stakeholders. These include
ingratiation, apology, compensation and corrective action. The findings of this study point to the fact
that the Interior Ministry attempted to become more likeable among the public. By accentuating the
positive and positively acknowledging others as advocated by the ingratiation strategy, the Interior
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Ministry broached a sensitive topic with the security agencies, and emergency response personnel.
In addition, the use of ingratiation strategies helped to motivate and encourage the volunteers to
keep doing the good work. In examining the SCCT through the General Motors (GM) bankruptcy
crisis in 2009, Cooley and Cooley (2011) found that GM used ingratiation strategies to soften their
employees and shareholders perceptions and feelings, following the restructuring of the company.
Previous empirical studies indicated mortification strategies such as apology and compensation
generally lead to a more positive perception of organizational reputation (Coombs & Holladay,
2008). The Interior Ministry as revealed by the findings, however, did not use apology strategies.
In support of Coombs and Holladay (2008), Thomas and Millar (2008) posit that apologies are an
important part of social discourse and have a function of reducing anger. Nevertheless, discussions on
corporate apologies among scholars of crisis communication, frequently state or imply that apologies
create legal liabilities for the apologist, and therefore, lawyers routinely advise against the use of
apology (Coombs, 2007). On this note, Haruta and Hallahan (2003) in the case of Delta Airline crash
found that the company did not use apology due to litigation concerns. Some scholars like Patel and
Reinsch (2003), however, do not agree with the argument that apology exposes an organization to
legal liabilities. They indeed argue that apologies generally do not constitute evidence of guilt and
that, in fact, they sometimes have positive impact for the apologist.
A focus on terrorism related cases, indicate a different scenario. For instance, Richard Alan
Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism
for the United States apologised for the 9/11 terror attack (NBC, 2004). Clarke offered an apology
to the families of 9/11 victims and an acknowledgment that the government had failed. The United
States government took full responsibility for the 9/11 terror attack. By contrast, in the case of
Westgate Mall attack data analysis revealed that there was no full apology from the Interior Ministry.
The ministry never used any apologetic phrases such as; we apologise, we are sorry, we ask for
forgiveness. However, the ministry used several partial apology statements. For instance, the tweet:
“Let us leave that to professionals who are working on the issue” which appear to suggest that the
people are expected to behave in certain way and should not question the process. Such an approach
is more effective in societies that have greater tolerance for ambiguity and Kenyan cultures could be
classified as such according to Hofstede (2011).
Hofstede observed that societies with high tolerance for ambiguity try to minimize the
possibility of unstructured situations such as crises with strict behavioural codes, laws and
rules, disapproval of divergent opinions. Rather than apologise, the Interior Ministry focused
on partial apologies to rebuild public confidence, through use of messages that build trust,
expressing compassion, showing commitment, encouraging interactivity, and collaboration.
The use of partial apologies allowed the ministry to focus on giving instructional and adjusting
information while at the same time sympathising with the victims and encouraging healing. The
use of partial apology strategy in dealing with negative emotions such as fear, panic and anxiety
has been recommended notably by Jahansoozi (2007), and Anthonissen (2008). Jahansoozi
(2007) recommends the use of caring conversational voice and stakeholder participation, while
Anthonissen (2008) advocates for sending senior executives to the site of a disaster and showing
empathy. Anthonissen (2008) further recommends use of access, openness and disclosure to
build relationships. Vettenranta (1998) however warned that the use of an authoritative and
arrogant tone and display of top-down attitude towards the public could result in public outrage.
In essence, there seems to be consensus that lack of concern gives rise to anger and hatred
against authorities while a caring attitude fosters solidarity.
Concerning the public’s perception of the crisis responsibility - the findings of this study revealed
that the Westgate Mall terror attack produced strong attributions of crisis responsibility towards the
Interior Ministry, thereby representing a severe reputational threat to the ministry. Partly, this negative
perception could be attributed to the failure by the ministry to follow the cardinal rules of crisis
Volume 11 • Issue 1 • January-June 2019
communication management of accuracy, consistency and competency, as advocated by Coombs
(2010). The erratic and inconsistent messages released by the Interior Ministry negatively shaped the
public’s perceptions of the ministry’s leadership. Coombs (2010) and James and Wooten (2005) argue
that, audiences are more forgiving of a leader when they believe that the leader’s actions in response
to the crisis are consistent with the initial communication about the crisis. By withholding crucial
information from the public, the Interior Ministry put the interests of government officials first and
lost credibility in the eyes of the public. The lack of professionalism, trust, as well as the inaccuracies
and inconsistencies illustrated in the findings and the premature claims of victory obliterated the
credibility of the interior ministry.
Though SCCT theory argues that loss of credibility and negative perception by the publics could
result to negative reaction and behaviors towards the organization in crisis, such reactions were not
witnessed in the Westgate terror crisis. In contrast, despite all the skepticism and negative outburst
on Twitter and other social media platforms, many Kenyan displayed solidarity and resilience in the
wake of the terror attack, through supportive messages of good will, donations and participation in
the rescue mission. This clear demonstration of solidarity in times of crisis, could be attributed to
some cultural factors of the Kenyan people.
Culture plays a significant role in determining how people react in times of crisis (Miller, 2007)
and influences behaviour (Wang & Ritchie, 2012). Therefore, the expression of solidarity demonstrated
during the Westgate crisis could be attributed to the collectivism culture of Kenyans as articulated
in the use of “we” in many tweets. Interesting, the findings indicate crisis can redefine the resolve
of people and their motivations. In collectivist cultures, for instance, it is possible for people to be
reintegrated into cohesive in-groups with a strong sense of belonging (Hofstede, 2011).
The findings of this study bring to the fore the role of social media in crisis communication
management and the basic principles of crisis communication-speed, accuracy, consistency and
competence. The findings also provide invaluable insight into terrorism crisis communication on
social media. As publics are increasingly taking to social media to seek and share information
during crises, an organisation responding to terrorism crisis on social media should align itself
with other trustworthy and supportive partners. All responding agencies should be seen to
be working together towards a common goal, however much they are differently constituted.
Working with other credible sources on social media can accommodate the ability to both reach
wide audiences and also gain their trust. As a result, there is increased favourable perception
among the stakeholders.
Second, given that social media is susceptible to rumours and circulation of misinformation,
it is imperative that crisis communication managers respond to terrorism crises on social
media as efficiently as possible, monitor rumours and misinformation and swiftly provide the
correct information. Giving clarification of misinformation gains organisation credibility in
the publics’ eye.
Third, social media erratic and inconsistent communication attracts negative crisis perceptions.
Consequently, crisis communication manager should ensure accuracy, consistency and competence
in terrorism crisis communication on social media for reputation management.
Fourth, it seems from the findings of this study that SCCT may largely be biased towards a
westernised and individualistic culture due to its roots in the Western culture and philosophies, thus
may not sufficiently accommodate some reactions from collectivist cultures, for instance the solidarity
displayed by Kenyans amidst harsh negative criticism and perception of the government.
Finally, since this study utilised a descriptive case study which focused on understanding events
within a single setting, the findings of this study, like other case studies are typically non-generalizable
Volume 11 • Issue 1 • January-June 2019
because they are situation-specific (Yin, 2013). Therefore, there is need for a case study model that
would examine different cases or terror crises, drawing quantitative data from each case. In addition, the
current study focused on messages from Twitter, a social media platform, but did not assess mainstream
media coverage of the Westgate Mall terror attack crisis. The two platforms are different in the way
they are utilized by the users and messages for each platform are crafted differently. Therefore, there
is need for a study on mainstream media coverage of Westgate Mall attack crisis communication.
This is an extended version of an ISCRAM conference paper.
Volume 11 • Issue 1 • January-June 2019
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Stephen Kimotho, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of strategic and health communication in the School of
Communication, Cinematic and Creative Arts at United States International University (USIU-A). He holds a wealth
of knowledge and a vast experience in varied areas of communication discipline including: strategic corporate
communication; health communication; crisis, risk and emergency communication; public relations, organizational
communication, management communication; public health promotion and campaigns; and public policy and
advocacy among others. Dr. Kimotho has published books, book chapters, journal articles, as well as delivered
lectures, presented papers in international conferences on various communication subjects.
Carolyne Nyarangó is a corporate communications specialist with over 4 years of experience in strategic planning,
development and implementation of communications plans, media relations, content development and crisis
management. Carolyne is currently an Account Manager at APN, responsible for Strategic Communications
planning, Event management and planning, Brand Management, Public Relations counsel and implementation of
plans and programmes for various clients and is also involved in business development. With adept knowledge
in crisis communication, Ms. Nyarangó was part of the team that managed negative press during Samsung’s
exploding phones and washing machines crisis in 2016. Ms. Nyarangó holds a Masters’ Degree in Communication
Corporate Communication Option from Daystar University and a Bachelors’ Degree Communication and Media
Technology with IT, Electronic Media Major, from Maseno University. She is also involved in Public Relations
research and has participated in academic conferences such as Eastern African Multidisciplinary Applied Research
Conference, USIU – Africa.
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Yin, R. K. (2013). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.
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This study sets out to assess responses to international terrorism in Kenya. This stems out of the fact that the terrorism menace has had been a major security challenge facing the country. The study draws a comparison of the Dusit D2 and Westgate terror attacks. Data was collected from a purposive sample of academics as well as serving and retired diplomats, senior police officers and military personnel. Primary data was collected from the respondents using interviews. The findings show that the West gate shopping mall in 2013 and the DusitD2 Hotel attack in January 2019 are replete with major differences. A critical comparison between both attacks shows an immense difference in the response to the terrorist attacks in Westgate Mall and Dust D2. In both cases, there was prior intelligence of the looming attack. However, there was no clear policy framework on intelligence sharing between the various security agencies in Westgate. Additionally, policies on timely multiagency deployment were disjointed in Westgate but improved in Dusit D2. Although the friendly fire was recorded in Westgate, this was not the case in Westgate. There was also a lack of clear policies on hierarchical coordination between different security agencies in Westgate Mall as opposed to Dusit D2. The law had also been more enhanced with the domestication of the 2012 Prevention of Terrorism Act and the creation of the institutions enshrined therein during the Dusit D2 attack. Accountability mechanisms for security agencies had also been improved during the Dusit D2 attack as opposed to Westgate Mall attack where there were cases of indiscipline and looting by state security personnel. Coordination between government officials and security agencies was also smoother in the Dusit D2 attack. Although the terrorists could communicate for some time between themselves and their command center and share publicity information, this was not the case with Dusit D2 where such communication was curtailed immediately. In both attacks though, communication between victims and outside help was poor and unreliable, and false information was passed. This was more prone and documented in the Dusit D2 attack. It is recommended that multiagency response teams should constantly review their operation guidelines and standard operating procedures so as to deal with the ever-changing sophistication in terrorist attacks. The government should put in place ways aimed at checking disparities in capabilities and equipment among various tactical and intelligence teams in Kenya for a uniform response to terrorism. There is a need for multinational frameworks for undertaking financing and creation of joint information infrastructure for security agencies so as to reign in on international terrorism in the East African Region. Training should also be synchronized across security agencies.
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To fill a gap of research that explores cyber crisis management, this study analyzed news stories of the five largest data breaches experienced in 2014 by retailers (i.e. Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, Home Depot, and Staples). Corporate crisis communication and its news coverage (n = 64) were evaluated for crisis communication strategies and framed situational factors. Despite companies’ use of multiple strategies, newspapers reported their use of advocate strategies more often. Massmediated crisis response strategies were even different among the five companies. Newspapers also reframed crisis severity and crisis controllability. Finally, our findings addressed the key to dealing with the public relations nightmare that would result from a security breach. © 2017 The Author(s). This open access article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 license.
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Social Media and Crisis Communication provides a unique and timely contribution to the field of crisis communication by addressing how social media are influencing the practice of crisis communication. The book, with a collection of chapters contributed by leading communication researchers, covers the current and emerging interplay of social media and crisis communication, recent theories and frameworks, overviews of dominant research streams, applications in specific crisis areas, and future directions.
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The paper examines the role of new media in political marketing during the 2013 general elections in Kenya.The ways in which politicians market themselves in the political realm have changed dramatically since the emergence of new media. Politicians in Kenya found innovative ways of reaching the masses with their campaign messages through new media platforms. It is however interesting to note that despite the high energy in the new media scene, there is little literature on the role that new media plays in political marketing in Kenya. Thus, the study aims at finding out the relevance of new media in Kenyan elections. Kenya has a national policy framework that supports access to ICTs. The creation of the backbone infrastructure for ICT in Kenya has potentially opened up space for new ways of engaging with the masses through new media. The paper argues that there is a link between these developments in technological infrastructure, and ultimately improved access of the Internet, to increased online political marketing. The framing theory and technological determinism theory were used to formulate a theoretical framework for the study. The paper seeks to determine whether going forward, political parties in Kenya should give due attention to the use of new media for political marketing. The paper argues that a stronger ICT –based political campaign platform will entrench a deeper participatory, democratic culture which is in line with achieving vision 2030 for the country.
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This book identifies, illustrates and reflects over the role of practical wisdom in organizations for organizations' preparedness. As the need for preparedness stretches the limits of what is think ...
Written as a tool for both researchers and communication managers, the Handbook of Crisis Communication is a comprehensive examination of the latest research, methods, and critical issues in crisis communication. Includes in-depth analyses of well-known case studies in crisis communication, from terrorist attacks to Hurricane Katrina. Explores the key emerging areas of new technology and global crisis communication. Provides a starting point for developing crisis communication as a distinctive field research rather than as a sub-discipline of public relations or corporate communication
This volume examines the role of apologia and apology in response to public attack. Author Keith Michael Hearit provides an introduction to these common components of public life, and considers a diverse list of subjects, from public figures and individuals to corporations and institutions. He explores the motivations and rationales behind apologies, and considers the ethics and legal liabilities of these actions. Hearit provides case studies throughout the volume, with many familiar examples from recent events in the United States, as well as an international apology-making case from Japan. The broad-perspective approach of this volume makes the content relevant and appealing to practitioners and scholars in public relations, business communications, and management. It is a valuable text for courses that take a discursive approach to public relations, and it also appeals to readers in business management, examining apology as a response strategy to corporate crises. © 2006 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.
The clear and practical writing of Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Researchhas made this book a favorite. In precise step-by-step language the book helps you learn how to conduct, read, and evaluate research studies. Key changes include: expanded coverage of ethics and new research articles.