Emotional crisis communication

Toni G.L.A. Van der Meer*, Joost W.M. Verhoeven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Organizational crises are usually highly emotional experiences for both organizations and stakeholders. Hence, crisis situations often result in emotionally charged communication between the two parties. Despite the attention of organizations and scholars to the emotions of stakeholders during crises, little is known about the effects of the emotions communicated by organizations on corporate reputations. Through the use of vignettes, this experiment reveals that besides crisis-response strategy (diminish vs. rebuild), the communicated emotion (i.e., shame and regret) has a positive effect on corporate reputation. Mediation analyses showed that this effect of communicated emotion could be explained by the public's (negative) affective as well as cognitive responses (i.e., account acceptance). This study confirms that emotional signals embedded in crisis responses may affect corporate reputations by reducing feelings of anger and by increasing the acceptance of the organizational message. In doing so, this study provides a starting point for further exploration of the effectiveness of other emotions in crisis communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-536
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Corporate reputation
  • Crisis communication
  • Emotion
  • Response strategy


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