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Septiembre-octubre de 2020, vol. 29, núm. 5

European leaders unmasked: Covid-19 communication strategy through Twitter

Lindsey Drylie-Carey; Sebastián Sánchez-Castillo; Esteban Galán-Cubillo

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Abstract: The coronavirus disease Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic is exacting a huge toll on individuals, families, communities, and societies across the world. The study of public communication is a key aspect for slowing the spread of the virus and therefore reducing the death rate. This article analyses political leaders’ crisis communication during the Covid-19 pandemic of the most affected European countries, Boris Johnson (United Kingdom), Emmanuel Macron (France), Pedro Sánchez (Spain) and Giuseppe Conte (Italy), in addition to Tedros Adhanom as a representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ursula Von der Leyen President of the European Union (EU). The study focuses on the visual information (images and videos) published in their Twitter profiles, with the aim of highlighting the strategies of recommendations by health authorities during the first 40 days of the pandemic. After analysis of the visual content of 634 tweets, the results show significant differences amongst the preventative measures recommended (social distancing, use of masks, hand washing, etc.) and the public image projected by the leaders in their Twitter profiles.

Keywords: Crisis communication; Covid-19; Coronavirus; Pandemics; Twitter; Audiovisual communication; Authoritative leadership; Political communication.