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Professional Summaries

Rob Lamberti, MCM

“Police use of social media during a crisis”

Advisor: Dr. Philip Savage

2nd Reader: Dr. Alex Sévigny

Degree Granted: June, 2015

Key Findings

  • Social Media tools are being used by police services in Canada to develop key relationships in pre-crisis periods, in part to make communications inroads into the communities the services police, and in part to prepare the communications channels to use when a crisis occurs.
  • In-depth interviews with 10 police personnel in Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario who are involved in communications suggest most crisis communications plans use guidelines of timeliness, accuracy, and cooperation focused on the goal of the operation rather than prepared checklists. 
  • Communication, especially during a crisis, is an integrated function of tactical operations dealing with the crisis.


Periods of crisis require emergency services to effectively communicate with people who are at risk of being injured or killed. They must efficiently and quickly issue statements that alert the public to the risk, its operations in response to the crisis, continued alerts to keep the public updated and to sound the all-clear.

But there is no time during the crisis to develop on-going relationships with the public during a crisis when ending the threat is considered to be the top priority for police services. The time between crises is used by police services to develop lasting and meaningful relationships with its publics. Those open channels will be alerted to the crisis.

Two-way symmetrical communication on social media between a police service and its publics is the norm during a non-crisis period. The development of positive and strong relations is important to develop as the traditional earned media news model has changed to an owned-media communications model.

However, the interviews suggest the dynamics change during a crisis, where the open conversation is stalled in favour of a communications system that is issuing statements to ensure the service’s message is reaching people. In other words, a crisis demands — at least temporarily — a two-asymmetrical model rather than the two-way symmetrical model. The public has a right to know what the crisis is, and what’s being done to alleviate it, but police services don’t want to necessarily want to receive messages during a crisis. The two-way symmetrical model is reestablished following the end of the crisis.


Lamberti, R. (2016). Police use of social media during a crisis. Journal of Professional Communications, 5/1.

Aislinn Mosher, MCM

“@Askyourdoctor: How Canadian Physicians use Twitter to Communicate in Healthcare”

Advisor: Dr. Alexandre Sevigny

Second Readers: Dr. Terry Flynn, Dr. Philip Savage

Degree Granted: June, 2017

Key Findings:

  • Physicians use Twitter in a manner that is beneficial to the medical profession, overcoming privacy concerns by adhering to either personal mandates around responsible behavior or guidelines developed by professional organizations.
  • Physicians do not use Twitter proactively to build enhanced relationships with their patients. However, a byproduct of their use of social channels is an enhanced understanding of the patient perspective.
  • Canadian physicians are benefitting from a global forum of thought leadership via their Twitter networks.
  • Physicians use social platforms to interact directly with the public around health literacy initiatives and to promote their medical achievements.
  • Physicians are proactive in their advocacy efforts, and use social media to reach government legislators and influence the health policy landscape.

Implications for Public Relations

Social media channels provide an opportunity for public relations professionals to build positive relationships and mutual understanding with the physicians on behalf of the organizations they serve. This kind of engagement may allow public relations professionals to realize their communication goals, while also serving public interest. However, just as physicians must engage responsibly on social channels, so too must public relations professionals. The profession has an obligation to ensure that social media engagement with physicians occurs with integrity and with a sound code of ethics attached, particularly when patients care is at the epicenter of the interaction.


The use of social media in Canada’s healthcare landscape is undergoing a significant shift, with some organizations predicting that physicians in Canada will increasingly use social channels to educate patients, and to provide patient and family support. To understand how Canadian physicians who use Twitter perceive the platform and its influence on communication with their communities, the author interviewed 18 physicians of assorted medical backgrounds and levels of experience from across Canada. The author posed questions around why physicians chose to join Twitter, what obstacles they faced upon joining, how they overcame obstacles, and what they viewed as the most beneficial aspect of using Twitter. Physicians were also asked to describe their overall experience of using Twitter, and to describe how Twitter has influenced the way they practice medicine.

Results demonstrated that physicians use Twitter for professional development, to work toward changing health policy, and to raise health awareness (health literacy). Participants suggested the importance of establishing parameters for managing the platform, emphasizing the importance of online professionalism and ensuring that Tweets stand up to the scrutiny of peer review. The majority of physician participants (13) said that Twitter has influenced the way they practice medicine, with nine of those physicians stating that Twitter has had a direct or indirect impact on their interactions with patients.


Mosher, A.  (2017). @Askyourdoctor: How canadian physicians use Twitter to communicate in healthcare.

Presented at the IPR 2018 Bridge Conference (panel speaker): Does Social Media Really Influence Relationships? The Challenges of Using Social Media to Build Relationships in a Global Context

Onyinye Oyedele, MCM

“Cultural Intelligence and Strategic Partnerships: Examining communication protocols in emerging markets.”

Advisor: Prof. Michael Meath

Second Reader: Dr. Alex Sevigny

Degree Granted: June 2017

Key findings

  • Communicators can gain Cultural Intelligence by educating themselves on emerging markets of interest, studying their industry, and meeting with ethnic communities at home before embarking on strategic partnerships abroad. They should also travel and be immersed in that culture by interacting with the locals to build trust for establishing long term relationships.
  • It is critical to be in touch with business councils in your home country and establish networks with companies or organizations already doing business in your country of interest. Research on political power in industries in the region to understand the decision making process and how management is structured because this will affect your communication channels for key stakeholders.
  • Research on Internet penetration in the region to avoid wasting resources on websites and social media. What media platforms are predominant in the region? Newspapers, radio, cell phone SMS (Texts), chats etc. Most emerging regions prefer face-to face communications to build trust in the initial stages of relationship building.
  • For effective communications in cross cultural partnerships, language is an asset which can be gained by having a local talent on staff or a skilled international team member. This is invaluable for crisis communication and navigating sensitive issues in a new environment.

Implications for Public Relations/Communications Management

Today’s Public relations professional should be open minded, willing to participate, and prepare to be trained in cross cultural relationships. Mergers, global acquisitions, trade agreements, and exploration of new markets are opening new doors to manage relationships and mitigate issues during crisis. By understanding the cultural landscape and effective communications channels with various stakeholders, information is disseminated and managed to build trust and strengthen the brand and reputation in a new environment.


Cultural Intelligence (CQ) is an asset for organizations embarking on strategic partnerships. The ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds, build, and translate that relationship into

one of mutual understanding is important for a successful venture. Despite the communications barriers, risks, and challenges faced during cross cultural expansions, the rewards and opportunity of exploring new markets, meeting needs, attracting and keeping new talents are prospects worth pursuing.

With a combination of content analysis of 21 articles from business magazines and in-depth interviews with nine experts on emerging markets from Canada , the UK, Bangkok, Senegal, and the US, this research captures their unique experiences, the communications protocols and channels that worked for their organizations.

These experts with a combined experience of about 30 years in establishing new ventures in emerging markets like China, India, Africa and South America all agreed that the role of communications in helping to broker, foster, and maintain relationships relied greatly on understanding and using effective communication channels. It is not a one size fits all approach, but one that is adaptive and flexible within the cultural landscape.


Oyedele, O. (2017). Cultural intelligence and strategic partnerships: Examining communications protocols in emerging markets. Unpublished masters capstone research project. Hamilton, ON: McMaster University.