Institutional Communication and the Covid-19 Pandemic: Italian Government Media Campaigns


  • Bojana Radenković Šošić Faculty of Philology and Arts, University of Kragujevac, Serbia
  • Marija Koprivica Lelićanin SAE Institute Milano, Alta Formazione Artistica e Musicale



institutional communication, pandemic, Floch, semiotics, Italian language


The SARS-CoV-2 virus struck the entire world unexpectedly, and Italy was one of the countries that suffered the most losses. Considering the importance and influence of the media in crisis and risk situations, the main aim of this paper is to examine official institutional public announcements issued by the Republic of Italy from February 2020 to July 2021. Following previous research recommendations that advocate the informational and persuasive nature of institutional communication during times of crisis and risk, these audio-visual messages are examined from two complementary perspectives: as institutional communication and as commercials. A distinct theoretical and analytical approach is developed by combining tools from various topic areas, in this case, public relations and semiotics. As a result, the messages are first examined through the lens of Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication as an Integrative Model. Throughout the various stages of crisis communication, various pragmatic, rhetorical, and semiotic tools are identified and analyzed. It is possible to conclude that institutional communication in the studied period goes through nearly the entire cycle of the integrative model. The evaluation stage's full potential is still untapped, but there are some sporadic evaluative attempts within previous stages. Simultaneously, by analyzing pandemic narratives, values, and semiotic resources at various stages of the pandemic, it becomes clear that these video clips are positioned differently within Flock's square, with linguistic-stylistic and semiotic features of varying complexity and creativity. As the pandemic progresses, the advertisements become more substantial, and then mythical, glorifying the Italian nation and cultural heritage, from the initial referential advertisements. The artistic expression of Tornatore's advertisement "Room of Embraces" serves as the oblique advertisement. In the final stages of the pandemic institutional communication, the government is turning to real-life images once more, but this time in a completely different mood. Instead of fabricated real-life images with a spokesperson at the center of the message, there are now authentic images of young people, beaches, music, and happy TV faces as immediate, intimate, and optimistic messages about the future.


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How to Cite

Radenković Šošić, Bojana, and Marija Koprivica Lelićanin. 2022. “Institutional Communication and the Covid-19 Pandemic: Italian Government Media Campaigns”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (1):285–302.