MIRKKOMM – Analysis of the Perception of Multimodal Crises- and Risk-Communication through Citizens und Government Officials

Pressestelle KIT

The Corona pandemic showed that communication between government, media, science, and citizens is of utmost importance for the correct handling of crises.

This poses the question: What are the criteria for efficient communication, which could contribute to a successful overcoming of a crisis? Moreover, how could this communication further better citizen’s belief in the crises management capabilities of the government and therefore foster a problem-solving oriented relationship between the two?

The Project “Analysis of the Perception of Multimodal Crises- and Risk-Communication Through Citizens and Government Officials” has empirically studied these questions since November of 2021. The study is focuses on the perspective of the recipient; meaning that citizens and government employees have been asked how crisis information affects them both cognitively and emotionally. The project aims to lower the future deficits in the government’s communication, which were made apparent throughout the Corona pandemic. In the future this could be done by e.g., publishing posts that are more appropriate for the target group and follow the logic of the used platform.

Laboratory Study and Online Survey for Multimodal Communication

The project at KIT is being led by Professor Dr. Annette Leßmöllmann, from the department of science communication as well as Professor (em.) Dr. Hans-Jürgen Bucher, who after his project recruitment at KIT was named a distinguished research fellow. The project is part of a research collaboration, which is being sponsored with more than 2 Mil. Euro to analyze the complex network, which is the crises and risk communication throughout a pandemic. This analysis is being carried out in eight subprojects from the perspective of different participants.

  • Department of security at a state, federal and communal level
  • Journalism
  • Communicators in social media
  • Judicial scientists
  • As well as recipients, for whom the project at KIT is responsible.

A particular aim of scientific interest is concentrated in the so called “multimodal” sides of crises and health communication for example in the form of dashboards, social media content, novel video, and visualization formats. The interest here lies in studying how much and in what way they could be effective. To study this, the subproject at KIT will contribute through a meticulous laboratory study by the means of sight tracking and knowledge tests. Furthermore, an online survey for evaluation and acceptance of multimodal communication proposals and their contributions to the total scientific research interests will be carried out. 

Because in crises situations institutions as well as citizens need to make business decisions, very often under uncertain and sometimes even controversial circumstances, there is a need to find out how information should be conveyed in order to increase belief and credibility. To address this issue the project team, including Bettina Boy and Johanne Mayer, falls back on experience from earlier projects from scientific communication.


The exhibition "#Krisenalltag" (eng. criseswiorkday) at the Museum für Kommunikation in Berlin (museum for communication) conveys a first look at the unfinished results and discoveries of the project network (14 July to 15 October 2023).
MIRKKOMM lecture at the DGPuK annual conference in Bremen, May 2023. From left to right:
​​​​​​Martin Löffelholz, Johanne Mayer, Hans-Jürgen Bucher, Johanna Radechowsky, Annett Schulze, Christoph Peter, Finn-Christopher Brüning
  • Panel, lecture and panel discussion: „Improvisation statt Routine: Strukturen, Prozesse, Produkte und Rezeption behördlicher Kommunikation zur Bewältigung der Covid-19-Pandemie“, eng.: "Improvisation instead of routine: structures, processes, products and reception of official communication to cope with the Covid 19 pandemic" (together with Martin Löffelholz).
  • Advanced training event at the Helmholtz Association:  „In Krisen (angemessen) kommunizieren Teil 3: Rezeptionsbezogene Erfolgsfaktoren der Risiko‐ und Krisenkommunikation“, eng. "Communicating (Appropriately) in Crises Part 3: Reception-Related Success Factors ofRisk and Crisis Communication" (together with Annett Schulze, Martin Löffelholz).
  • BBK Expert Congress "Research for Civil Protection" World Conference Center Bonn - January 13, 2023. Presentation: „Soziale Medien in der Krisenkommunikation. Herausforderungen und Chancen für den Bevölkerungsschutz“, eng. "Social Media in Crisis Communication.Challenges and Opportunities for Civil Protection" (Joint panel with M. Löffelholz, A. Biegert: Governmental Risk and Crisis Communication: Success Factors, Warning Systems and Use of Social Media).
  • Forum Wissenschaftskommunikation, Organizer: Wissenschaft im Dialog, Hannover 18.10.2022. Lecture: "Coronapandemie: Wenn Wissenschaftskommunikation zur Krisenkommunikation wird", eng. "COVID-19 Pandemic: When science communication becomes crisis communication" (together with Annett Schulze, BfR and Christina Leuker, Robert Koch Institute).
Publications and media coverage

Project Profile

Duration: November 2021 to October 2024

Project coordination: Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)

Funding body: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the program "Research for Civil Security".

Funding amount:

  • Project network"Multimodality in Risk and Crisis Communication - Challenges, Evaluation and Optimization Options for the Content and Forms of Official and Media Information Communication" (MIRKKOMM), 2.1 million euros
  • Subproject at KIT"Analysis of the Reception of Multimodal Crisis and Risk Communication by Citizens and Authority Employees", 418.000 Euro

Collaborative partners:

Participating scientists