Turning Crisis Into Renewal: Governmental Discourse of Renewal In Rebuilding Wenchuan Earthquake-Damaged Communities




Hu, Yue

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This study reviews and evaluates public relations (PR) campaigns launched by the Chinese government to facilitate long-term disaster recovery after the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. Theory of Discourse of Renewal (DR) is employed to guide the study to explore how the Chinese government utilized communication to help communities recover from disaster, and even promote community growth. Steered by the co-creational perspective, this study also examines the influence of PR campaigns on publics’ situation awareness, attitude agreement, perceived care and concern, and ultimately publics’ relationship with the Chinese government in renewal. A Discourse of Renewal Evaluation model is developed and tested. Furthermore, this study investigates the communication obstacles that constrain the effectiveness of DR. In-depth interviews, content analysis and survey are conducted to analyze the themes, characteristics, effectiveness and barriers of the campaigns. Findings indicated 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’s 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. Implications about how to utilize these findings to better plan and implement long-term DR campaigns are discussed.



Crisis communication, Discourse of renewal, Wenchuan earthquake, Community recovery, Co-creation theory, Discourse of renewal evaluation model