Effects of expressing emotion and altering loco color in organizational crisis responses
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A crisis is inevitable. Any organization needs crisis communication plans and response strategies to protect themselves from reputational damage. This study examines whether employing sadness-expressive words and black-and-white logos in crisis response messages can be an effective strategy that leads to a more positive organizational reputation in the wake of a crisis. A 2 (emotion: presence of sadness vs. absence) x 2 (logo color: standard vs. black-and-white) within-subject factorial experiment was conducted with 188 participants. The experimental stimuli were crisis response messages in the form of Facebook posts from four existing airline companies, including Air France, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, and Germanwings, in response to their real-life crisis incidents. Participants were introduced to each crisis (a total of 4) through a news article developed from a previously published story. Then, after each article reporting on the airline crisis, they were exposed to a response message from the airline. The findings show that when organizations express sadness in their messages, their sad emotion is transferred to the readers and leads to a higher organizational reputation and behavioral intention. Also, the use of a black-and-white logo in the context of sadness-present crisis response messages results in a better organizational reputation.
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