Beating the virus: an examination of the crisis communication approach taken by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during the Covid-19 pandemic

David McGuire*, James E.A. Cunningham, Kae Reynolds, Gerri Matthews-Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely tested the leadership and communication abilities of political leaders globally. Guiding an effective response to the global pandemic has required leaders to demonstrate not only effective planning and coordination skills, but the ability to communicate clear consistent messages in an empathetic manner as well. In New Zealand the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was recorded on February 28 and over the course of March and April 2020, 1,132 further cases of Covid-19 were confirmed and 19 deaths – a much lower transmission rate than most industrialised nations. On April 27, 2020, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that they had won the battle against community transmission of Covid-19. This paper analyses the speeches and public statements (n = 40) made by Prime Minister Ardern in March and April 2020 through the lens of crisis leadership and crisis communication. In particular, it looks at the use of different mediums (parliamentary statements, daily briefings, Facebook Live broadcasts and podcasts) as mechanisms for engaging in narrative and dialogue with the public. The paper underscores the importance of communication in crisis management and looks at how positive and consistent messaging inspires confidence and social solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-379
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Volume23
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • crisis leadership
  • Covid-19
  • crisis communication
  • empathy
  • coronavirus

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