Implications of stealing thunder for the impact of expressing emotions in organizational crisis communication

Year of publication: 2013
Author(s): Claeys, A.-S., ; Cauberghe, V., & Leysen, J.
Appeared in: Journal of Applied Communication Research (In press).


This study investigates the impact of crisis timing strategies on the post-crisis reputation of organizations confronted with a preventable crisis. In addition, the moderating impact of emotional (sadness) versus rational message framing on the effectiveness of crisis timing strategies is studied by means of a 2 (crisis timing strategy: ex-ante crisis timing strategy vs. ex-post crisis timing strategy) × 2 (message framing: rational vs. emotional) between-subjects factorial experimental design with 168 respondents. The findings show that organizations can restore their reputation in times of crisis better by means of an ex-ante crisis timing strategy than by means of an ex-post crisis timing strategy. In addition, the study illustrates that an ex-ante crisis timing strategy leads to more effective use of organizational message framing. In the case of an ex-ante crisis timing strategy expressing sadness as a discrete negative emotion results in a better post-crisis reputation than rational message framing, whereas no impact of message framing is found for an ex-post crisis timing strategy. Finally, the results indicate that organizations can benefit from allowing their spokespersons to express sadness because consumers will consider the organization more sincere.

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