Students at LInnaeus University

Business students contributed to Kalmar municipality's crisis communication planning

Students at the School of Business and Economics recently presented proposals for how Kalmar municipality can communicate more effectively with its residents in a crisis situation and how they can create a sense of security in the city.

As a result of unrest and violent crime during spring, Kalmar municipality has worked actively to increase security in the city. Therefore, the students were tasked with conducting interviews with residents of Kalmar in order to develop a plan for how Kalmar municipality should communicate in a crisis, and between crises.

“We were tasked by the municipality to conduct interviews with residents of Kalmar, in different age groups. The questions concerned, for example, how safe they feel in the city, what makes them feel unsafe, and what changes they would want to see”, explains one of the student groups that participated in the project.

The results from more than 400 interviews showed that most respondents were not aware of the safety-promoting work carried out by the municipality. After analysing the answers, the students came up with ideas that can be included in a crisis communication plan for Kalmar municipality. The work has been carried out in groups.

Clarinda Rodrigues, associate professor of marketing, is responsible for the course IMC Brand Management, within which the project has been carried out. She says that out of 21 submitted proposals, 6 were finally presented to Kalmar municipality, and then a winner was announced. The group consisting of the students Anna Jakobsson, Matilda Svahn, Agnes Olson, Masood Muqdad Sami Al Juboori, Abdul Rafay, Anais Lallée, Kristjana Zaka presented the winning proposal.

Students at Linnaeus University
Kristjana Zaka, Anna Jakobsson, Agnes Olson, Matilda Svahn, Masood Muqdad Sami Al Juboori. Group members Abdul Rafay and Anais Lallée are missing in the picture.

Why do you think you won?

“From our perspective, the most important thing was to communicate the message from Kalmar's residents, while conveying the strategy our group came up with to help the municipality better reach out to its residents, in the ways preferred by its residents. We also drew up a plan for how often and where to communicate with residents and what media should be used in different contexts”, says Anna Jakobsson.

What was the proposal you presented to Kalmar municipality?

“Our proposal was to have one strategy to reach the younger target group and another one to reach the older target group. In order to reach young people, we suggested that the municipality should focus more on communicating through social media. For the older generation, we recommended communication through local newspapers, billboards, and mailings as we believe this would be more effective, while press conferences can be used to convey important crisis information. We also suggested that it would be good if residents could register for a newsletter on Kalmar municipality's website, and that the municipality should be more visible at the local schools, in order to reach out with information to the younger generation and have an open dialogue with the pupils”, Jakobsson continues.

Associate professor Clarinda Rodrigues stresses the importance of giving the students the opportunity to solve real-life tasks.

“Before joining academia, I had the opportunity to work in business for 25 years as head of marketing and brand strategist. My courses are designed to bridge the gap between academia and industry and to offer students the opportunity to solve real-life business challenges. For students, this is a great opportunity to develop their critical thinking and become good communicators before they are employed, whereas companies can find a hub for new ideas and valuable insights based on market research. In sum, we are happy to co-create knowledge with our business partners and drive societal change”, Rodrigues explains.

Beatrice Andersson, at the municipality's communications department, also sees benefits in collaborating with students.

“This question is highly topical for us, so it felt natural to invite students to find out how we can become better at this. When the students presented their results to us, we saw that they had done a good job of coming up with new creative ideas on how to improve our communication. They also contributed with new perspectives on ideas that we already had at the municipality”, says Beatrice Andersson, safety and crisis communications officer at Kalmar municipality.

More information:

143 students from the School of Business and Economics participated in the project with Kalmar municipality. The question they were tasked with was how Kalmar municipality should communicate to create an understanding among residents of the crisis situation and strengthen their sense of security. During the course of the project, 420 questionnaires were conducted with residents of Kalmar.