Covid-19 communication management in Spain: Exploring the effect of information-seeking behavior and message reception in public´s evaluation



Palabras clave:

Crisis communication, Risk communication, Emergency communication, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Pandemics, Strategic communication, Media, Spain.


The World Health Organization (2011) has emphasized communication as one of the biggest challenges and places risk communication among the essential competencies required to tackle a pandemic. In light of the Covid-19 crisis, the aim of this paper is to assess how information forms and sources influence the public´s information-seeking behaviors, and the perception of government´s crisis response strategies during the pandemic. An online survey was conducted between March 14 and April 14, 2020, the first four weeks after the declaration of the State of Alarm in Spain. The online questionnaire included questions regarding information-seeking behavior, trust in different sources and channels, perception of government communication management, message retention, and demographic questions. Findings show a synchronous use of multiple media and platforms in line with channel complementarity theory. Three of the four most used information channels are considered mainstream news media. However, the second source of information is WhatsApp. People who relied more on the mainstream news media for Covid-19 information are generally most likely to express positive opinions of the government´s communication strategy. Findings also show that people less able to make correct attributions of governmental information were the most critical of the government´s crisis response. Finally, trust in public authorities´ decreases as the crisis evolves as a general matter. It is specially truth for the WHO, but there is also a striking exemption for local governments. Implications for theory and empirical research and recommendations and new issues to address are identified and discussed.


Los datos de descargas todavía no están disponibles.


Austin, Lucinda; Jin, Yan (2016). "Social media and crisis communication: Explicating the social-mediated crisis communication model. In: Dudo, Anthony; Kahlor, LeeAnn (eds.). Strategic communication: New agendas. New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 163-186. ISBN: 1138184799

Austin, Lucinda; Liu, Brooke-Fisher; Jin, Yan (2012). "How audiences seek out crisis information: Exploring the social-mediated crisis communication model". Journal of applied communication research, v. 40, n. 2, pp. 188-207.

Bardin, Laurence (1996). "Análisis de contenido". Madrid: Akal. ISBN: 978 84 76000939

Bates, Elizabeth; Callison, Coy (2008). "Effect of company affiliation on credibility in the blogosphere". In: Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference, Chicago, IL.

Burton-Jeangros, Claudine (2019). "Epidemics and risk communication: Why are lessons not learned?". In: Managing the global health response to epidemics. New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 105-125. ISBN: 978 1 138578999

Casero-Ripollés, Andreu (2020). "Impact of Covid-19 on the media system. Communicative and democratic consequences of news consumption during the outbreak". El profesional de la información, v. 29, n. 2, e290223.

Castro, Carles (2020). "Ayuntamientos, arriba; Gobierno, suspendido". La vanguardia, April 4.

Choi, Yoonhyeung; Lin, Ying-Hsuan (2009). "Consumer responses to Mattel product recalls posted on online bulletin boards: Exploring two types of emotion". Journal of public relations research, v. 21, n. 2, pp. 198-207.

Coombs, W. Timothy (1995). "Choosing the right words: The development of guidelines for the selection of the "˜appropriate´ crisis-response strategies". Management communication quarterly, v. 8, n. 4, pp. 447-476.

Coombs, W. Timothy; Holladay, Sherry J. (2005). "An exploratory study of stakeholder emotions: Affect and crises". Research on emotion in organizations, v. 1, n. 5, pp. 263-280.

Coombs, W. Timothy; Holladay, Sherry J. (2009). "Further explorations of post-crisis communication: Effects of media and response strategies on perceptions and intentions". Public relations review, v. 35, n. 1, pp. 1-6.

Costa-SaÌnchez, Carmen; LoÌpez-GarciÌa, XoseÌ (2020). "ComunicacioÌn y crisis del coronavirus en España. Primeras lecciones". El profesional de la informacioÌn, v. 29, n. 3, e290304.

Covello, Vincent; Peters, Richard; Wojtecki, Joseph; Hyde, Richard (2001). "Risk communication, the West Nile virus epidemic, and bioterrorism: responding to the communication challenges posed by the intentional or unintentional release of a pathogen in an urban setting". Journal of urban health, v. 78, n. 2, pp. 382-391.

Crespo, Ismael; Garrido, Antonio (2020). "La pandemia del coronavirus: estrategias de comunicación de crisis". Más poder local, v. 41, pp. 12-19.

Dimmick, John; Chen, Yan; Li, Zhan (2004). "Competition between the Internet and traditional news media: The gratification-opportunities niche dimension". The journal of media economics, v. 17, n. 1, pp. 19-33.

Ducharme, Jamie (2020). "We don´t blindly accept data. Top WHO official defends the group´s response to Covid-19". Time, April 20.

Dutta-Bergman, Mohan J. (2004). "Interpersonal communication after 9/11 via telephone and Internet: A theory of channel complementarity". New media & society, v. 6, n. 5, pp. 659-673.

Dutta-Bergman, Mohan J. (2006). "Community participation and Internet use after September 11: Complementarity in channel consumption". Journal of computer-mediated communication, v. 11, n. 2, pp. 469-484.

Edelman (2020). Special report: Trust and the coronavirus.

FAPE (2020). La APM y la FAPE proponen al Gobierno ruedas de prensa con periodistas por videoconferencia. Federación de Asociaciones de Periodistas de España.

Fraustino, Julia-Daisy; Liu, Brooke-Fisher; Jin, Yan (2017). "Social media during disasters: A research synthesis and road map". In: Austin, Lucinda; Jin, Yan (eds.). Social media and crisis communication. New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 283-295. ISBN: 978 1 315749068

Frisby, Brandi; Veil, Shari; Sellnow, Timothy (2014). "Instructional messages during health-related crises: Essential content for self-protection". Health communication, v. 29, n. 4, pp. 347-354.

Gaspar, Rui; Gorjí£o, Sara; Seibt, Beate; Lima, Luisa; Barnett, Julie; Moss, Adrian; Wills, Josephine (2014). "Tweeting during food crises: A psychosocial analysis of threat coping expressions in Spain, during the 2011 European EHEC outbreak". International journal of human-computer studies, v. 72, n. 2, pp. 239-254.

González-Harbour, Berna (2020). "Cinco fallos y cuatro aciertos del Gobierno en la comunicación de esta crisis". El paí­s, May 1.

González-Herrero, Alfonso; Smith, Suzanne (2008). "Crisis communications management on the web: how internet"based technologies are changing the way public relations professionals handle business crises". Journal of contingencies and crisis management, v. 16, n. 3, pp. 143-153.

GPMB (2019). "A world at risk: annual report on global preparedness for health emergencies".

Gramlich, John (2020). As newsrooms face coronavirus-related cuts, 54% of Americans rate media´s response to the outbreak positively. Pew Research Center, April 8.

Gu, Edward; Li, Lantian (2020). "Crippled community governance and suppressed scientific/professional communities: a critical assessment of failed early warning for the Covid-19 outbreak in China". Journal of Chinese governance, v. 5, n. 2, pp. 160-177.

Hampel, Jí¼rgen (2006). "Different concepts of risk - A challenge for risk communication". International journal of medical microbiology, v. 296, pp. 5-10.

Heath, Robert-Lawrence; O´hair, Dan (eds.). (2009). Handbook of risk and crisis communication. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 0 203 89162 7

Hornmoen, Harald; Backholm, Klas (2018). Social media use in crisis and risk communication: Emergencies, concerns and awareness. London: Emerald Group Publishing. ISBN: 978 1 787562721

Hughes, Emma; Kitzinger, Jenny; Murdock, Graham (2006). "The media and risk". In: Taylor- Gooby, Peter; Zinn, Jens (eds.), Risk in social science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 250-270. ISBN: 978 0 199285969

J.P. Morgan (2020). Media consumption in the age of Covid-19. Against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic, increased media consumption is helping to fill the time.

Jurkowitz, Mark; Mitchell, Amy (2020). Older Americans continue to follow Covid-19 news more closely than younger adults. Pew Research Center, April 22.

Krimsky, Sheldon (2007). "Risk communication in the internet age: The rise of disorganized skepticism". Environmental hazards, v. 7, n. 2, pp. 157-164.

Laajalahti, Anne; Hyví¤rinen, Jenni; Vos, Marita (2016). "Crisis communication competence in co-producing safety with citizen groups". Social sciences, v. 5, n. 1, p. 13.

Liu, Brooke-Fisher; Jin, Yan; Austin, Lucinda; Janoske, Melissa (2012). "The social-mediated crisis communication model: Guidelines for effective crisis management in a changing media landscape". In: New media and public relations, 2nd ed., pp. 257-266. ISBN: 978 1 433116285

López-Rabadán, Pablo; Casero-Ripollés, Andreu (2012). "La evolución de la agenda mediática española (1980-2010). Un análisis longitudinal de la portada de la prensa de referencia". Revista latina de comunicación social, v. 67, pp. 470-493.

Lu, Xuerong; Jin, Yan (2020). "Information vetting as a key component in social-mediated crisis communication: An exploratory study to examine the initial conceptualization". Public relations review, v. 46, n. 2, 101891.

Lundgren, Regina E.; McMakin, Andrea H. (2018). "Risk communication: A handbook for communicating environmental, safety, and health risks". Hoboken, NJ: Wiley IEEE Press. ISBN: 978 1 119 45615 5

Macias, Wendy; Hilyard, Karen; Freimuth, Vicki (2009). "Blog functions as risk and crisis communication during hurricane Katrina". Journal of computer-mediated communication, v. 15, n. 1, pp. 1-31.

Masip, Pere; Aran-Ramspott, Sue; Ruiz-Caballero, Carlos; Suau, Jaume; Almenar, Ester; Puertas-Graell, David (2020). "Consumo informativo y cobertura mediaÌtica durante el confinamiento por el Covid-19: sobreinformacioÌn, sesgo ideoloÌgico y sensacionalismo". El profesional de la informacioÌn, v. 29, n. 3, e290312.

Mileti, Dennis S.; Fitzpatrick, Colleenn (1991). "Communication of public risk: Its theory and its application". Sociological practice review, v. 2, pp. 20-18.

Ministerio de Sanidad (2020). ActualizacioÌn n. 116. Enfermedad por el coronavirus (Covid-19).

Moreno, Ángeles (2003). La identidad de la televisión pública. Evolución de sus fundamentos económicos, polí­ticos e ideológicos. Salamanca: Biblioteca Salmanticensis. ISBN: 978 84 72995642

Moreno-Millán, Emilio (2008). "Gestión de la información y la comunicación en emergencias, desastres y crisis sanitarias. Emergencias". Revista de la Sociedad Española de Medicina de Urgencias y Emergencias, v. 20, n. 2, pp. 117-124.

Morrow, Jennifer-Ann; Skolits, Gary-Joseph (2014). "The twelve steps of data cleaning: Strategies for dealing with dirty data". In: Workshop conducted at the 28th Annual conference of the American Evaluation Association, Denver, CO.

Nerlich, Brigitte; Koteyko, Nelya (2012). "Crying wolf? Biosecurity and metacommunication in the context of the 2009 swine flu pandemic". Health & place, v. 18, n. 4, pp. 710-717.

Newman, Nic; Fletcher, Richard (2017). Bias, bullshit and lies: Audience perspectives on low trust in the media.

Palttala, Pauliina; Boano, Camillo; Lund, Ragnhild; Vos, Marita (2012). "Communication gaps in disaster management: Perceptions by experts from governmental and non"governmental organizations". Journal of contingencies and crisis management, v. 20, n. 1, pp. 2-12.

Park, Sejin; Boatwright, Brandon; Johnson-Avery, Elizabeth (2019). "Information channel preference in health crisis: Exploring the roles of perceived risk, preparedness, knowledge, and intent to follow directives". Public relations review, v. 45, n. 5, 101794.

Procopio, Claire H.; Procopio, Steven T. (2007). "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Internet communication, geographic community, and social capital in crisis". Journal of applied communication research, v. 35, n. 1, pp. 67-87.

Reifegerste, Doreen; Bachl, Marko; Baumann, Eva (2017). "Surrogate health information seeking in Europe: Influence of source type and social network variables". International journal of medical informatics, v. 103, pp. 7-14.

Reuter, Christian; Kaufhold, Marc"André (2018). "Fifteen years of social media in emergencies: a retrospective review and future directions for crisis informatics". Journal of contingencies and crisis management, v. 26, n. 1, pp. 41-57.

Reynolds, Barbara (2002). Crisis and emergency risk communication. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reynolds, Barbara; W. Seeger, Matthew (2005). "Crisis and emergency risk communication as an integrative model". Journal of health communication, v. 10, n. 1, pp. 43-55.

Ringel, Jeanne; Trentacost, Elizabeth; Lurie, Nicole (2009). "How well did health departments communicate about risk at the start of the swine flu epidemic in 2009? In a critical time frame for worried information seekers, state and local health departments´ responses varied greatly". Health affairs, v. 28, n. supplement 1, pp. 743-750.

Rodero, Emma (2020). "Radio: the medium that best copes in crises. Listening habits, consumption, and perception of radio listeners during the lockdown by the Covid-19". El profesional de la informacioÌn, v. 29, n. 3, e290306.

Roslyng, Mette-Marie; Eskjí¦r, Mikkel-Fugl (2017). "Mediatised risk culture: News coverage of risk technologies". Health, risk & society, v. 19, n. 3-4, pp. 112-129.

RSF (2020). Coronavirus: Spanish government yields to the pressure of journalists and agrees to live press conferences.

Saura, Gemma (2020). "¿Qué paí­s miente y cuál dice la verdad sobre infectados y muertos?". La vanguardia, May 10.

Schultz, Friederike; Utz, Sonja; Gí¶ritz, Anja (2011). "Is the medium the message? Perceptions of and reactions to crisis communication via Twitter, blogs and traditional media". Public relations review, v. 37, n. 1, pp. 20-27.

Seeger, Matthew; Sellnow, Timothy; Ulmer, Robert (1998). "Communication, organization, and crisis". Annals of the International Communication Association, v. 21, n. 1, pp. 231-276.

Sheppard, Ben; Janoske, Melissa; Liu, Brooke (2012). Understanding risk communication theory: A guide for emergency managers and communicators. Report to Human Factors/Behavioral Sciences Division, Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Stephens, Keri; Malone, Patty (2009). "If the organizations won´t give us information"¦: The use of multiple new media for crisis technical translations and dialogue". Journal of public relations research, v. 21, n. 2, pp. 229-239.

Tai, Zixue; Sun, Tao (2007). "Media dependencies in a changing media environment: The case of the 2003 SARS epidemic in China". New media & society, v. 9, n. 6, pp. 987-1009.

Tench, Ralph; VerÄiÄ, Dejan; Zerfass, Ansgar; Moreno, Ángeles; Verhoeven, Piet (2017). Communication excellence: How to develop, manage and lead exceptional communications. London: Springer. ISBN: 978 3 319 48860 8

Thompson, Blair; Mazer, Joseph P.; Payne, Holly J.; Jerome, Angela M.; Kirby, E. Gail; Pfohl, William (2017). "Social media and active shooter events: A school crisis communication challenge". Qualitative research reports in communication, v. 18, n. 1, pp. 8-17.

Turner, Monique M.; Shaikh, Hina; Rimal, Rajiv N. (2016). Ebola risk communication project in Liberia: Lessons in crisis communication. A report from the team at The Department of Prevention and Community Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University.

Utz, Sonja; Schultz, Friederike; Glocka, Sandra (2013). "Crisis communication online: How medium, crisis type and emotions affected public reactions in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster". Public relations review, v. 39, n. 1, pp. 40-46.

Van-der-Meer, Tony G. L. A. (2018). "Public frame building: The role of source usage in times of crisis". Communication research, v. 45, n. 6, pp. 956-981.

Van-Ruler, Beteke (2019). "Agile communication evaluation and measurement". Journal of communication management, v. 23, n. 3, pp. 265-280.

Van-Tam, Jonathan; Lambert, Paul-Henri; Carrasco, Peter; Tschanz, Beatrice; Leppo, Kimmo (2010). "Evaluation de la stratégie de vaccination H1N1 de la Suisse. Rapport final". Ernst & Young.

Vaughan, Elaine; Tinker, Timothy (2009). "Effective health risk communication about pandemic influenza for vulnerable populations". American journal of public health, v. 99, n. 2, pp. 324-332.

Wang, Weirui; Ahern, Lee (2015). "Acting on surprise: Emotional response, multiple-channel information seeking and vaccination in the H1N1 flu epidemic". Social influence, v. 10, n. 3, pp. 137-148.

Wedderhoff, Oliver; Chasiotis, Anita; Rosman, Tom; Mayer, Anne-Kathrin (2018). "Unveiling the subjective perception of health information sources: A three-dimensional source taxonomy based on similarity judgements". Frontiers in communication, v. 3, pp. 1-10.

WHO (2011). Report of the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) in relation to pandemic (H1N1) 2009. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

WHO (2020). 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Strategic preparedness and response plan.

Xifra, Jordi (2020). "Comunicación corporativa, relaciones públicas y gestión del riesgo reputacional en tiempos del Covid-19". El profesional de la información, v. 29, n. 2, e290220.

Zhang, Xueying; Zhou, Shuhua (2019). "Clicking health risk messages on social media: Moderated mediation paths through perceived threat, perceived efficacy, and fear arousal". Health communication, v. 34, n. 11, pp. 1359-1368.

Zhao Xinyan; Zhan, Mengqi; Liu, Brooke F. (2018). "Disentangling social media influence in crises: Testing a four-factor model of social media influence with large data". Public relations review, v. 44, n. 4, pp. 549-561.




Cómo citar

Moreno, Ángeles, Fuentes-Lara, C., & Navarro, C. (2020). Covid-19 communication management in Spain: Exploring the effect of information-seeking behavior and message reception in public´s evaluation. Profesional De La información Information Professional, 29(4).



Artí­culos de investigación Covid-19 / Covid-19 research articles