Epistemic Evidence in Strategic-Persuasive Communication: On the Effects of Investing in the Truthfulness of NGOs’ Strategic Crisis and Conflict Communications
Against the backdrop of declining confidence in epistemological instances like journalism or science, this study investigates the effects of evidence in strategic-persuasive communication. Using the example of NGO communication on six violent conflicts, it aims to unravel (RQ1) how evidence-based the strategic-persuasive communication efforts by different NGOs are and (RQ2) whether there is a relationship between NGOs’ reliance on evidence and their media visibility. The study uses an automated multilingual content analysis of 11,815 press releases by 54 different NGOs and 109,468 news items from 9 international news organizations. Overall, results indicate that more than 50% of NGOs’ press releases make use of some form of evidence, while there are significant differences across conflicts and between types of NGOs. Moreover, results show that, in general, relying on evidence-based communication significantly increases an NGO’s media visibility, while conflict context and organizational characteristics are relevant conditional factors.