Linguistikzirkel 13.06.2018

Vortrag Dr. Ursula Lutzky (WU, Institut für Engli­sche Wirt­schafts­kom­mu­ni­ka­tion): "Cust­o­mers, crises and commu­ni­ca­tion on Twitter"

Zeit: 18:15 - 19:45 Uhr

Ort: WU, Gebäude D2, Eingang D, 2.OG, Bespre­chungs­raum D2.2.228


Anyone who has ever contacted an airline or train opera­ting company about lost luggage, delays or cancel­la­tions will know that making a phone call requires high levels of pati­ence as it usually entails precious time spent waiting on hold. Their websites, on the other hand, are often a maze of subpages and hyper­links that call for advanced navi­ga­tion skills when trying to find specific infor­ma­tion. It is thus not surpri­sing that passen­gers incre­a­singly accept compa­nies’ offer of getting in touch with them on Twitter, espe­cially in the event of crisis.

This talk pres­ents the findings of two case studies on the topic of crisis commu­ni­ca­tion on Twitter. It is based on two cust­o­mised corpora of tweets that cust­o­mers directed at British compa­nies as well as their social media mana­gers’ replies. The first case study takes a closer look at Southern Rail, a British company opera­ting trains in the South of England that was repea­tedly subject to indus­trial action in 2016 and 2017. The analysis inves­ti­gates how this crisis, leading to trains being cancelled or delayed, was discussed on Twitter. This includes a discus­sion of the hashtag #southern­fail and its collo­ca­tional context to show which types of language use it entails in cust­o­mers’ tweets. The second case study focuses on the inter­ac­tions evol­ving on Twitter due to an IT systems outage that the airline British Airways expe­ri­enced in May 2017 and that led to cancel­la­tions and delays of its normal service provi­sion for several days. The aim of this talk is to show how cust­o­mers addressed these inci­dents, which threa­tened the compa­nies’ repu­ta­tion as reliable train and air travel provi­ders, and how the compa­nies responded in order to main­tain their legi­ti­macy in the face of crisis.

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