It is critical that organizations deliver timely, effective communication about potential risks and life-saving information. The National Weather Service (NWS) developed a suite of messages known as “experimental graphic products” to be automatically distributed through their local official Twitter accounts at the onset of fast-moving, severe weather events such as tornadoes. However, recent research has suggested messages need to be carefully constructed for audiences to place attention to the content, remember the content, and later act in response to the content. The purpose of this study is to explore what people recall of the NWS Twitter message. We used an online survey instrument, distributed via Qualtrics, to investigate participant responses to three open-ended questions about the message. We performed a quantitative analysis to summarize the frequency of message features recorded by participants, and a qualitative analysis to identify themes that provide a deeper description of what was recalled. We found that participants encoded the hazard type, the time the message was sent and would expire, and the types of impacts that might occur. Graphic design cues elicited attention as they “stood out” to the participants. When asked about importance and what they would tell others, respondents described protective action, indicating participants may have activated prior knowledge of the threat, as it was not included in the message. Risk, disaster, and science communicators can draw guidance about communicating during a disaster. It provides a lens for researching message construction, and the importance of communicating protective action guidance during severe weather events.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.