Practicing transparency in a crisis: Examining the combined effects of crisis type, response, and message transparency on organizational perceptions

Derrick Holland, Trent Seltzer, Anna Kochigina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Public relations practitioners allocate a vast number of resources to constructing and building strategic messaging for targeted stakeholders. Two important factors within this message construction deal with organizational crisis responses and message transparency. The present study sought to combine concepts from Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) and message transparency to investigate what combined impact these two fields in public relations research have on perceptions of an organization. By utilizing a 3 (crisis type) X 3 (crisis response) X 2 (message transparency) experimental design, this study (n = 898) found that victim crisis types, rebuild strategies, and high transparency messages resulted in more positive perceptions of the organization. A three-way interaction was also found, namely that use of highly transparent messages contributed to greater perceived organizational credibility when a rebuilding or denial strategy was used in response to a preventable crisis and when a diminishing strategy was used in response to a victim or accidental crisis. Practical and theoretical implications are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102017
JournalPublic Relations Review
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Crisis communication
  • Experimental design
  • Message transparency
  • Organizational transparency
  • Public relations

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