A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words: Crisis Communication and Image Making of Indonesian Public Leaders on Instagram

Dewa Ayu Diah Angendari


During crisis, such as Covid-19 pandemic, public leaders are expected to be able to provide information that explains the situation at hand to  the affected public while at the same time giving psychologically comforting messages. Nevertheless, a crisis can also be seen as a political event. Political actors use crisis as a momentum to change policies, gain support, and strengthen their positiveimage by showing off their capabilities in handling crisis. The absence of media gatekeeper in digital realms provides wider opportunities  for political actors to set their agenda. Previous research found that Instagram is an effective medium to disseminate health-related messages and provides a platform for political actors to engage with their followers. Hence, this study seeks to understand how public leaders communicate crisis on Instagram. This research uses content analysis method by taking data from the Instagram of four prominent public leaders in Indonesia during the period from February 29 to May 29 2020. Findings show that all the four public leaders are actively uploading social media content during the beginning of the pandemic, focusing on showcasing their efforts to fight the virus, demonstrating leadership, proximity, and intimacy towards their  followers. This study contributes to the study of crisis communication by providing understanding  about  the use of crisis as an image-making momentum in social media by public leaders.

Full Text:



Ajzenman, N., Cavalcanti, T., & da Mata, D. (2020). More Than Words: Leaders’ Speech and Risky Behavior during a Pandemic. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3582908

Angendari, D. A. D. (2021). Menelaah Pesan Pemerintah Terkait Krisis Covid-19 di Media Sosial. Jurnal Riset Komunikasi, 4(2), 247–260. https://doi.org/10.38194/jurkom.v4i2.327

Arifin, D. (2020, March 30). Status Keadaan Tertentu Darurat Bencana Wabah Penyakit Akibat Virus Corona di Indonesia. Https://Bnpb.Go.Id/Berita/Status-Keadaan-Tertentu-Darurat-Bencana-Wabah-Penyakit-Akibat-Virus-Corona-Di-Indonesia-.

Bene, M. (2017). Go viral on the Facebook! Interactions between candidates and followers on Facebook during the Hungarian general election campaign of 2014. Information, Communication & Society, 20(4), 513–529. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2016.1198411

Boin, A., ’T Hart, P., & McConnell, A. (2009). Crisis exploitation: Political and policy impacts of framing contests. Journal of European Public Policy, 16(1), 81–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/13501760802453221

Boin, A., ’t Hart, P., & McConnell, A. (2009). Crisis exploitation: political and policy impacts of framing contests. Journal of European Public Policy, 16(1), 81–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/13501760802453221

Castells, M. (2013). Communication power. OUP Oxford.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). CERC: Crisis Communication Plans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Covello, V. T. (2003). Best practices in public health risk and crisis communication. In Journal of Health Communication (Vol. 8, pp. 5–8). https://doi.org/10.1080/713851971

Covello, V. T. (2003). Best Practices in Public Health Risk and Crisis Communication. Journal of Health Communication, 8(sup1), 5–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/713851971

Drylie-Carey, L., Sánchez-Castillo, S., & Galán-Cubillo, E. (2020). European leaders unmasked: Covid-19 communication strategy through twitter. Profesional de La Informacion, 29(5), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2020.sep.04

Ekman, M., & Widholm, A. (2017). Political communication in an age of visual connectivity: Exploring instagram practices among swedish politicians. In Northern Lights (Vol. 15, Issue 1, pp. 15–32). Intellect Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1386/nl.15.15-1

Graham, T., Jackson, D., & Broersma, M. (2018). The Personal in the Political on Twitter: Towards a Typology of Politicians’ Personalized Tweeting Behaviours. In Managing Democracy in the Digital Age (pp. 137–157). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-61708-4_8

Guidry, J. D., Messner, M., Jin, Y., & Medina-Messner, V. (2015). From #mcdonaldsfail to #dominossucks. Corporate Communications, 20(3), 344–359. https://doi.org/10.1108/CCIJ-04-2014-0027

Guidry, J. P. D., Jin, Y., Orr, C. A., Messner, M., & Meganck, S. (2017). Ebola on Instagram and Twitter: How health organizations address the health crisis in their social media engagement. Public Relations Review, 43(3), 477–486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.04.009

Hermawan, A. (2020, March 21). Politics of pandemics: How online “Buzzers” infect Indonesia’s democracy, jeopardize its citizens. The Jakarta Post.

Houts, P. S., Doak, C. C., Doak, L. G., & Loscalzo, M. J. (2006). The role of pictures in improving health communication: A review of research on attention, comprehension, recall, and adherence. Patient Education and Counseling, 61(2), 173–190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2005.05.004

Jacobsen, K. H., & Vraga, E. K. (2020). Improving communication about COVID‐19 and emerging infectious diseases. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 50(5). https://doi.org/10.1111/eci.13225

Jung, Y., Ho, J., Tay, A., Goh, Y. H., & Hong, T. (n.d.). Politician’s Strategic Impression Management on Instagram. http://hdl.handle.net/10125/41420

Klein, N. (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Metropolitan Books.

Lim, R. S.-Q., Tan, E. Y., Lim, E. W., Aziz, N. B. A., & Augustine. (2017). When a Pandemic Strikes. In Social Media and Crisis Communication (pp. 253–266). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315749068-19

Lin, L., Savoia, E., Agboola, F., & Viswanath, K. (2014). What have we learned about communication inequalities during the H1N1 pandemic: a systematic review of the literature. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 484. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-484

Malik, A., Khan, M. L., & Quan-Haase, A. (2021). Public health agencies outreach through Instagram during the COVID-19 pandemic: Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication perspective. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102346

Nielsen. (2020, April 14). Berpacu Dengan COVID-19: Melihat Lebih Dalam Bagaimana Konsumen Indonesia Bereaksi Terhadap Sang Virus. Https://Www.Nielsen.Com/Id/Id/Insights/Article/2020/Berpacu-Dengan-Covid-19-Melihat-Lebih-Dalam-Bagaimana-Konsumen-Indonesia-Bereaksi-Terhadap-Sang-Virus/.

Olsson, E. K., & Nord, L. W. (2015). Paving the way for crisis exploitation: The role of journalistic styles and standards. Journalism, 16(3), 341–358. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884913519032

Olsson, E. K., Nord, L. W., & Falkheimer, J. (2015). Media coverage crisis exploitation characteristics: A case comparison study. Journal of Public Relations Research, 27(2), 158–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/1062726X.2014.976827

Petersen, M. B. (2020). The unpleasant truth is the best protection against coronavirus.

Poulakidakos, S., & Giannouli, I. (2019). Greek Political Leaders on Instagram: Between “Soft” and “Hard” Personalization. In Visual Political Communication (pp. 187–206). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18729-3_10

Procopio, C. H., & Procopio, S. T. (2007). Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? Internet Communication, Geographic Community, and Social Capital in Crisis. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35(1), 67–87. https://doi.org/10.1080/00909880601065722

Romo, Z. F. G., Aguirre, S. I., & Medina, I. G. (2020). Pharmaceutical influencers on Instagram and their communication during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Journal of Science Communication, 19(5), 1–27. https://doi.org/10.22323/2.19050204

Rufai, S. R., & Bunce, C. (2020). World leaders’ usage of twitter in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: A content analysis. Journal of Public Health (United Kingdom), 42(3), 510–516. https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdaa049

Russmann, U., Svensson, J., & Larsson, A. O. (2019). Political Parties and Their Pictures: Visual Communication on Instagram in Swedish and Norwegian Election Campaigns. In Visual Political Communication (pp. 119–144). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18729-3_7

Schill, D. (2012). The visual image and the political image: A review of visual communication research in the field of political communication. In Review of Communication (Vol. 12, Issue 2, pp. 118–142). https://doi.org/10.1080/15358593.2011.653504

Seeger, M. W., Reynolds, B., & Sellnow, T. L. (2020). Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication in Health Contexts: Applying the CDC Model to Pandemic Influenza. In Handbook of Risk and Crisis Communication (pp. 493–506). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003070726-27

Sturges, D. L. (1994). Communicating through Crisis. Management Communication Quarterly, 7(3), 297–316. https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318994007003004

Syahputra, I., Ritonga, R., Ajeng Purwani UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta, D., Masduki, I., Ema Rahmaniah, S., & Wahid, U. (2021). SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research Pandemic politics and communication crisis: How social media buzzers impaired the lockdown aspiration in Indonesia. http://search.taylors.edu.my

Veneti, A., Jackson, D., & Lilleker, D. G. (n.d.). Visual Political Communication.

Vos, S. C., & Buckner, M. M. (2016). Social Media Messages in an Emerging Health Crisis: Tweeting Bird Flu. Journal of Health Communication, 21(3), 301–308. https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2015.1064495

Wang, P. (2020). Reporting and combating the health crisis: an analysis of the PRC media during the COVID-19 pandemic (2019–2020). In Media Asia (Vol. 47, Issues 3–4, pp. 152–161). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1080/01296612.2020.1847995

DOI: https://doi.org/10.25008/jkiski.v7i1.594


Article Metrics:

Abstract Views - 327

PDF Downloads - 559


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Dewa Ayu Diah Angendari

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Indexed by: 
Google Scholar  Mendeley

Jurnal Komunikasi Ikatan Sarjana Komunikasi Indonesia (P-ISSN : 2548-8740, E-ISSN : 2503-0795)
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Editorial Secretariat:
Jurnal Komunikasi Ikatan Sarjana Komunikasi Indonesia (JKISKI)
Gedung Dewan Pers 5th Floors, Jl. Kebon Sirih 32-34 Jakarta 10110 - Indonesia

Contact Person   : Prof. Dr. Rajab Ritonga, M.Si

Email                : rajab.r@lspr.edu

Whatsapp          : +62811133471
View My Stats