Assistant Professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film Duncan Koerber’s research focuses on the teaching of writing skills and the theory of crisis communication. In crisis communication, he is particularly interested in understanding why public crises develop in social media, and why social media crises have become so common and so damaging to organizations’ images and people’s careers. He also studies media and journalism history.
Koerber is one of 11 Brock researchers and scholars who received funding under the 2020-21 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, he discusses his research project titled “Social Media and Large Sporting Events: Social Media Crisis Monitoring of the Niagara 2022 Canada Games.”
Please give a brief overview of your research project
This project is about how crises during large sporting events are sparked or amplified by social media users on Twitter. I’m also interested in researching best practices for dealing with crises that occur on social media.
Part One of the project, now completed, saw a Brock student produce a literature review report of previous studies on the use of social media during large sporting events. Part Two of the project will see a Brock student use public relations industry software to monitor Canada Games-related Twitter posts during the event in August. What’s uncertain is that we obviously don’t know if a social media crisis will occur during the Canada Games. But we’ll be ready, capturing all the Games-related tweets. If a crisis happens, we can use the tweets as our primary source material for analysis on many different levels.
What do you expect will be the outcome of your research?
This project will generate new research on social media content during one large sporting event. As well, Part One of the project, the literature review, found that very little research has been done in this specific area. Instead, researchers in different fields have been studying slightly different topics. I hope this study will bring together these streams of research and push them forward in a new direction. With the Canada Games as a central case study, the project will offer insights into social media, crisis communication and large sporting events.
How will this contribute to knowledge, or understanding, of the Canada Summer Games?
This project is a case study of one Canada Games, which will provide analysis and advice for social media managers of future Canada Games. But it will also link this major Canadian sporting event to others like the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games. Researchers and practitioners studying those events will be able to build on the analysis and advice from the Canada Games.
How did you become interested in this research?
For the past three years, I’ve been working on a book about social media and crisis communication. The study of social media in crisis situations is a relatively new research area. Even less research has been done on sports and social media crisis. I’m a big sports fan too, so this project brings these interests together.
How do you plan on sharing your research?
The research will be disseminated in a journal article, likely in the area of communication studies or public relations.