Social presence and source credibility in blog-mediated crisis communication
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This study primarily attempted to achieve a better understanding of how a conversational human voice versus a corporate tone of voice affects key publics' responses to an organization, especially in the context of a crisis. Another aim of this study was to explore how type of source and crisis response strategies interplay with each other and with tone of voice in blog-mediated crisis communication. To test hypotheses and research questions, this study used a 2 (tone of voice: human vs. organizational) x 2 (source: public relations executive vs. private citizen) x 2 (type of crisis response: defensive vs. accommodative) mixed experimental design with tone of voice and type of source as within-subjects factors and type of crisis response as a between-subjects factor. The results indicate that having a human presence on an organization's blog through using the first-person voice and personal narratives, as opposed to an organizational presence, increased perceptions of conversational human voice and interactivity in the online communication. These perceptions subsequently resulted in positive outcomes of crisis communication, such as public acceptance of an organization's response to a crisis, as well as behavioral intentions toward an organization in crisis. The findings suggest that the success of crisis communication strategies on social media may depend on the ability of public relations practitioners to generate an enhanced sense of human presence on their social media pages by using a more conversational tone.
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