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Article
Publication date: 29 April 2021

Taylor Jing Wen, Jo-Yun Li and Baobao Song

This study situates in the context of Chipotle's food safety issue and seeks to understand how their primary customers perceive their crisis response messages after…

Abstract

Purpose

This study situates in the context of Chipotle's food safety issue and seeks to understand how their primary customers perceive their crisis response messages after learning of the outbreaks. The current study incorporates the framework of situational crisis communication theory (SCCT; Coombs, 2007) and public segmentation model (Rawlins, 2006) to understand the effectiveness of crisis response messages. It aims to examine the role of public segmentation in situational crisis communication and investigate the effects of three crisis response strategies according to SCCT on different public segments.

Design/methodology/approach

The SCCT provides guidelines for understanding the effectiveness of different crisis response strategies. The current study showcases the importance of public segmentation in the SCCT model through the lens of stakeholder theory. A 3 (crisis response strategy: deny, diminish, rebuild) × 4 (public segment: advocate, dormant, adversarial, apathetic) factorial experiment was conducted.

Findings

The findings suggest that advocate public expressed more positive evaluation about the company when exposed to rebuild and deny strategies. Both dormant and adversarial stakeholders reported positive responses on rebuild and diminish strategies. However, no difference was found among apathetic public.

Originality/value

The researchers attempt to make a modest contribution in this direction by reporting results from an empirical experiment that examined the effects of crisis response strategies on different public segments. The findings suggest an effective message tailoring approach to target different public segments. Thus, the results of this study are expected to benefit relevant corporations and public relations practitioners.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2016

W. Timothy Coombs, Sherry Jean Holladay and An-Sofie Claeys

The purpose of this paper is to address the under-researched issue of how formal determinations of organizational responsibility for a crisis affect the effectiveness of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address the under-researched issue of how formal determinations of organizational responsibility for a crisis affect the effectiveness of the denial strategy in protecting organizational reputation. Because studies that omit later determinations of responsibility produce misleading representations of the value of denial, a pilot study and primary study investigated how later determinations of organizational culpability in a management misconduct crisis interact with crisis response strategies to affect reputation and anger.

Design/methodology/approach

Two studies used experimental designs to assess how denial interacted with determinations of crisis responsibility to influence reputation and anger.

Findings

The pilot study demonstrated reputational damage and stakeholder anger increased when an organization initially denied responsibility and then was found to be responsible for the crisis. The second study replicated the pilot study findings and also demonstrated that later determinations of guilt decreased reputation scores. When found guilty, the organization’s reputation was significantly more favorable when the positive action strategy was used. Comparison of three response strategies (no response, denial, and positive action) revealed the denial and no response conditions were significantly less effective than the positive response strategy when the organization was found guilty.

Research limitations/implications

Paper demonstrates the need for research on the denial strategy to consider later determinations of crisis responsibility (guilt) when assessing denial’s impact on organizational reputation.

Practical implications

When selecting response strategies in situations where crisis responsibility is unclear, practitioners should consider how later determinations of responsibility could affect reputation.

Originality/value

This paper questions past research on the value of the denial strategy, integrates findings from the trust violations research, and demonstrates the importance of considering formal judgments of organizational responsibility when selecting crisis response strategies.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 25 January 2013

Sasha Karl Grebe

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the circumstances in which a crisis response strategy can compound a crisis, especially a corporate scandal, as evidenced by the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the circumstances in which a crisis response strategy can compound a crisis, especially a corporate scandal, as evidenced by the case of AWB Limited, where the organisational damage of the “cover‐up” escalated the scandal further and caused additional damage to the company.

Design/methodology/approach

The AWB case study provides a unique insight into the application of theories and research on crisis and reputation management and the specific challenges and risks of corporate scandals.

Findings

As a specific form of crisis, corporate scandals can easily descend into a secondary or “double crisis” if incorrectly managed, or even mismanaged.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows that the information provided to the Australian Government's Royal Commission and other documents relating to the management of the scandal by the company further embarrassed AWB and exposed the inappropriateness of the original defensive apologia crisis response strategy pursued by the company.

Practical implications

The AWB case study provides an opportunity for alignment with the crisis response theories of Coombs and De Maria, based on the evaluation of the initial failed response strategy and the more appropriate response eventually undertaken by the company.

Originality/value

The paper offers the additional insights of the author (as a former member of the management team at the company) into the documents tendered to the Royal Commission, which have not been evaluated and studied for their contribution to crisis communication and crisis management.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 15 February 2011

Seon‐Kyoung An, Karla K. Gower and Seung Ho Cho

This paper aims to identify how the news media cover organizational crisis responsibility and crisis response strategies and, if at all, how they differ by crisis types.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to identify how the news media cover organizational crisis responsibility and crisis response strategies and, if at all, how they differ by crisis types.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach takes the form of a content analysis of level of responsibility (individual versus organizational level) and organizational response strategies in news coverage of major crisis events during 2006 in three newspapers.

Findings

Significant differences were found between preventable crises and accidental crises: most preventable crises news coverage focused more on the individual level of responsibility, while accidental crises news used the organizational level of responsibility. The significant differences of organizational response strategies indicated that preventable crises news coverage frequently reported denial strategies, while accidental crisis news covered deal with strategies more.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to the samples of the three newspapers and the period 2006.

Practical implications

This study suggests that crisis managers should always check the crisis news coverage, and media bias and orientation, and try to have good relations with the media to deliver the right message to the public during a crisis.

Originality/value

Despite the importance of the media's role in the public's perception of crisis responsibility, there is a lack of systematic analysis of level of crisis responsibility.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 8 October 2018

Nengzhi (Chris) Yao, Jiuchang Wei, Weiwei Zhu and Alexander Bondar

The conclusions on the importance of corporate response timing to a crisis have remained inconsistent. Some studies suggest that active response may reduce negative…

Abstract

Purpose

The conclusions on the importance of corporate response timing to a crisis have remained inconsistent. Some studies suggest that active response may reduce negative impacts, whereas managers argue that issuing official response frustrates stakeholders and thus decreases the firm value. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of external media in the response timing strategy and the consequent stock market reaction.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on 130 corporate crises that befell publicly listed firms in China from 2007 to 2014, this paper uses the Baidu News Search Engine and Chinese Lexical Analysis System to construct the variables of the media characteristics. A structural equation model is established to test the hypotheses.

Findings

The results of this paper suggest that media coverage drives response timing after a crisis. Although an official response is a burden for firms, the timing strategy has multidimensional benefits including effectively alleviating negative effects (defined as buffering effects) and repairing the market (defined as restoring effects). Moreover, the buffering effects of response timing are stronger when completeness of response is low.

Originality/value

This study mainly contributes to crisis communication literature by introducing the role of media in prompting managers to make timing decisions. The findings of this study provide empirical support for the importance of timing response strategy.

Details

Baltic Journal of Management, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5265

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 29 May 2019

Michail Vafeiadis, Denise S. Bortree, Christen Buckley, Pratiti Diddi and Anli Xiao

The dissemination of fake news has accelerated with social media and this has important implications for both organizations and their stakeholders alike. Hence, the…

Abstract

Purpose

The dissemination of fake news has accelerated with social media and this has important implications for both organizations and their stakeholders alike. Hence, the purpose of this study is to shed light on the effectiveness of the crisis response strategies of denial and attack in addressing rumors about consumer privacy when non-profit organizations are targeted on social media.

Design/methodology/approach

To test the hypotheses, a 2 (response type: denial vs attack) × 2 (privacy concerns: low vs high), between-group online experiment was conducted via Qualtrics.

Findings

The results indicated that one’s involvement level in the issue determines the effectiveness of the crisis response strategy. Data showed that attacking the source of fake news (as a crisis response) reduces the message’s credibility more than denying fake news. Furthermore, highly involved individuals are more likely to centrally process information and develop positive supportive intentions toward the affected non-profit brand. High issue involvement also predicted organizational and response credibility. Conversely, an attack rebuttal message increased the credibility of the circulated malicious rumors for low involved individuals.

Research limitations/implications

The findings suggest that issue involvement plays a key role in message perceptions of false information regarding consumer privacy in social media.

Practical implications

Practically, this study offers insights for organizations that are developing response strategies in the current environment of fake news. Findings from this study suggest that organizations need to consider the degree to which audiences are currently involved in an issue before deciding how aggressively to respond to perpetrators of fake news.

Originality/value

The present study examines the intersection of fake news and crisis management in the non-profit sector, with an emphasis on various response strategies and issue involvement. This is one of the first attempts to experimentally investigate how social media strategies can defend and protect non-profit reputation in the fake news era.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2016

Britt Foget Johansen, Winni Johansen and Nina M. Weckesser

The purpose of this paper is to examine the Telenor customer complaints crisis triggered on the company Facebook site in August 2012. More specifically, the paper focusses…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the Telenor customer complaints crisis triggered on the company Facebook site in August 2012. More specifically, the paper focusses on how friends and enemies of a company interact, and how faith-holders serve as crisis communicators in a rhetorical sub-arena that opens up on Facebook.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a textual analysis of 4,368 posts from the Telenor Facebook site, and an interview with the senior digital manager of Telenor.

Findings

Not only current and previous customers but also those from rival telephone companies were active in the Facebook sub-arena. The customers complaining about the company services were met not only with the response of Telenor, but also with counter-attacks from faith-holders acting in defense of Telenor. However, these faith-holders were using defensive response strategies, while Telenor used accommodative strategies.

Research limitations/implications

Organizational crises need to be seen as a complex set of communication processes, including the many voices that start communicating from different positions, and taking into account not only the response strategies of the organization but also the response strategies applied by supportive emotional stakeholders. In practice, faith-holders need to be monitored, as they may prove useful as “crisis communicators.”

Originality/value

The paper provides insights into an under-investigated area of crisis communication: the strategies of faith-holders acting as “crisis communicators” defending a company and themselves against attacks from negative voices on social media.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

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Article
Publication date: 15 November 2018

W. Timothy Coombs and Elina R. Tachkova

The purpose of this paper, a set of two studies, is to elaborate on the concept of scansis and its effects upon crisis communication theory and practice. A scansis…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper, a set of two studies, is to elaborate on the concept of scansis and its effects upon crisis communication theory and practice. A scansis represents the intersection of a scandal and crisis, essentially when a crisis becomes a scandal. A new term was created due to the varied ways in which the term scandal is used and misused. The effects of scansis on crisis communication are examined through two studies. A scansis is unique because it creates moral outrage and is a function of a perception of injustice coupled with greed.

Design/methodology/approach

Experimental design is used in both studies to test for the effects of specific crisis response strategies used during a scansis. The crisis response strategies were manipulated to determine whether or not corrective action with moral recognition is more effective at helping organizations during a crisis than those crisis response strategies that do not contain a moral component.

Findings

The two studies found no short-term effect for crisis responses during scansis. This included no difference between corrective action with moral recognition and the other three response conditions for the short-term factors of organizational reputation, negative word-of-mouth intentions, purchase intentions and anger. However, Study 2 found that corrective action with moral recognition was perceived as the most empathetic response and created the lowest levels of moral outrage. The authors postulate that corrective action with moral recognition has a long-term effect after a scansis by creating a positive response that moves organizations away from being stigmatized.

Research limitations/implications

The results raise questions about the current configuration of the intentional crisis cluster articulated in situational crisis communication theory (SCCT). When just consider assessments crisis responsibility, a scansis would be part of the preventable crisis cluster. However, the evaluation of justice and greed suggest a scansis may be a unique crisis type that does not fit within the intentional crisis cluster and the prescribed short-term effects of crisis response strategies recommend by SCCT. The scansis establishes a boundary condition for the limits of crisis response strategies on short-term effects such as reputation and purchase intention. These findings require us to rethink elements of current crisis communication theory.

Practical implications

The lack of short-term benefits should not be an argument for abandoning accommodative crisis response strategies. Practitioners need to realize the limits of crisis response strategies for creating short-term benefits and think about the potential long-term benefits offered by crisis response strategies.

Originality/value

Scansis is a new concept for crisis communication and provides a link between the crisis communication and organizational stigma literatures. The two studies are the first attempts to empirically examine scansis and opens new avenues of thinking and research for crisis communication and organizational stigma researchers.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 5 August 2019

Pytrik Schafraad and Joost W.M. Verhoeven

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of a crisis situation in a sports team on the credibility of their sponsor and how the sponsor’s use of various…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of a crisis situation in a sports team on the credibility of their sponsor and how the sponsor’s use of various crises response strategies may repair the damage done to their credibility.

Design/methodology/approach

A scenario experiment was conducted with a 2 (pre-/post-crisis) × 4 (sponsor response strategy: denial/distancing/rebuild/no response) mixed factor design. Respondents (n=191) were recruited from a research panel.

Findings

The results confirmed the existence of a spill-over effect: the sponsor’s credibility dropped as a result of the crisis. More interestingly, the effects of the crisis on sponsor credibility were moderated by the response strategy of the sponsor: the harm that the crisis did to the sponsor credibility was aggravated by a denial strategy, but somewhat weakened by a diminishing strategy. A rebuild response unexpectedly improved the credibility of the sponsor.

Practical implications

While partnerships in sports can be risky, because crises can be contagious, such partners can also help one another to protect their credibility. Therefore, this study advocates an integral approach of crisis communication. Sponsors may improve their credibility when they frame their contribution to the solution to the problems as an authentic effort to do good.

Originality/value

Starting from an issue arena perspective, this contribution shows how crises in sports teams also affect sponsors and how sponsors can contribute to the restoration of the damaged credibility with suitable responses to the crisis situation.

Details

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, vol. 20 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1464-6668

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Lan Ye and Eyun-Jung Ki

The purpose of this paper is to explore British Petroleum’s (BP) crisis response on Facebook and factors contributing to its stakeholders’ perceptions of its crisis

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore British Petroleum’s (BP) crisis response on Facebook and factors contributing to its stakeholders’ perceptions of its crisis response strategies during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Design/methodology/approach

Applying crisis response strategies, this study content analyzed BP’s crisis communication messages and Facebook users’ comments on BP America’s Facebook page.

Findings

The results revealed that information giving strategies dominated BP’s crisis response, and Facebook users were more likely to comment favorably when BP used information giving strategies and accommodative strategies. Bolstering strategies and third-party endorsement did not achieve anticipated effectiveness.

Originality/value

The findings of this study will contribute to effective application of crisis response strategies.

Details

Corporate Communications: An International Journal, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1356-3289

Keywords

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