Stakeholder reactions to company crisis communication and causes
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Despite the burgeoning number of studies examining stakeholder effects of crisis communication and crisis causes, the varied categorizations used, together with inconsistent findings, has meant that knowledge gaps remain. Specifically, existing studies have not established whether a significant hierarchy of best communicated accounts exist that minimize crisis impact on stakeholder reactions. In addition, whether different crisis causes have different emotional, attitudinal and behavioral outcomes still requires examination. Further, crisis emotion research has been limited and has predominantly investigated anger and sympathy, indicating the need to explore a greater variety of crisis emotions. This investigation of the impact of a hierarchy of five crisis communication accounts and four crisis causes on multiple stakeholder reactions elicited several key findings. Although "confession" was the most preferred crisis account, "no comment" was almost as successful in mitigating negative reactions. Counterintuitively, confession reduced responsibility judgments. No comment was second to confession in mitigating negative, and promoting positive, reactions. Further, company control of a crisis was found to be the single most powerful predictor of stakeholder reactions. Involvement elicited multiple positive and negative crisis emotions, while different emotion categories elicited different behavioral intentions. Attitude to the company also impacted behavioral intentions.
Public Relations Review
© 2010 Elsevier. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.