A case study performed by Sarah Larson in fulfillment of the Master of Arts in Communication degree at The Johns Hopkins University, this is the Media Review & Recommendations for Communications Professionals portion.
Photo by Matthew Guay on Unsplash
This case study reviewed 20 current media sources related to the labor shortage, specifically articles and social media posts within the United States where the author is located. The first channel to be examined is the social media and networking site frequently utilized by organizational communication professionals, LinkedIn, through their Feed and recent posts regarding the ‘labor shortage’ or ‘great resignation’. The second is through reviewing articles tagged similarly in online academically aligned business news sites such as; Harvard Business Review (HBR), Forbes, McKinsey, etc. that have been published in 2021.
This media review analyzed how these selected media channels have framed the labor shortage utilizing ‘goal framing’ (Wikham, 2007). Qualitative analysis was performed through coding of title and content against goal framing, and gatekeeping through the diffusion of information, or ‘secondary gatekeeping’ (Welbers & Opgenhaffen, 2018). Together, this analysis will provide understanding to how the labor shortage has been portrayed on professional social media and networking sites as well as within academia.
Overview of Findings
Both media channels provided context and understanding of how the professional and academic public are reacting and viewing the labor shortage. By reviewing both LinkedIn posts and secondary posts to LinkedIn, it could be said that posts that are framed positively result in increased engagement. On the contrary, original articles on professional and academic media websites that are framed toward a resolving a problem or diagnosing a problem are more likely to have an increase in secondary source sharing. Overall, posts or articles that engage in storytelling and related persuasion tactics have the most success based on outreach and engagement.
There were several limitations to this study, the first being the LinkedIn algorithm. The LinkedIn algorithm utilizes the current profile of the person logged in. Therefore, as the researcher, I was logged in to LinkedIn to be able to review and search for content and by being logged in, this could have skewed the search results. Another limitation was the utilization of Google Search. Like the LinkedIn algorithm, Google’s utilizes personal profiles. Therefore, my Google search results when looking for articles may have skewed my results. Lastly, the number of articles and posts reviewed do not constitute a complete analysis for the entire United States based on both the previously stated algorithm and restriction of time. More time and resources need to be allotted for this research to be considered complete and reputable.
Several recommendations can be deduced from the results of this case study. The first recommendation is to frame LinkedIn posts in a positive light to increase secondary source distribution and audience engagement. This recommendation speaks more to the utilization of the platform itself. If a mass media site, such as Harvard Business Review, plans to post their article on LinkedIn resulting in an appearance on the ‘Feed’ framing it positively will grant higher engagement. Similarly, if the article is posted for utilization by the audience, i.e., if they are aiming to engage the practitioner or academic audience member, framing the article title as solution to a problem or as information on a problem will yield higher audience engagement. E.g., Article Title: “What You Need to Know About the Labor Shortage.”
Another recommendation for both influencers and mass media sites is to utilize storytelling in their articles or LinkedIn posts. As shown in the results of this study, posts and articles with a storytelling component reduce the amount of secondary gatekeeping by increasing audience engagement. Lastly, few mass media publications view the labor shortage from a perspective of opportunity, if an article or post is framed in such a way, it would be best to utilize the term ‘Great Resignation’. E.g., Post Headline: “The Great Resignation, How to Overcome It.”