The Integration of Crisis Communication and Regulatory Focus: Deconstructing and Optimizing the Corporate Message



This is a hybrid defence.

This research deals with the integration of Regulatory Focus Theory and Framing Theory into the standard Situational Crisis Communication Theory model (SCCT). Three related papers, using experimental design, deconstruct the basic principles of the SCCT model and show that they can be rearranged into a more effective contingency model. The first paper established that the composition of a crisis event, in terms of perceived severity and organizational responsibility, has a predictable impact on the cognitive (prevention and promotion focus) and emotional (fear and disappointment) state of a consumer. All of these changes would negatively impact company reputation. A second paper showed that all of the aforementioned factors would engender a higher appreciation for a matching restoration strategy, determined by the principle of regulatory fit. Perceived crisis severity, prevention focus and fear would increase the effectiveness of a Corrective Action strategy, while organizational responsibility, promotion focus and disappointment would do the same for a Compensation strategy. This showed that the choice of restoration strategy was far more complex than merely selecting a cluster on the defensive-accommodative spectrum: informational content of the strategy is also a vital criterion. Finally, a third paper proved that the effects of regulatory fit in crisis communication can be replicated, albeit with a smaller effect size, via emphasis framing. A value-framed message was shown to be more effective for consumers who scored highly on disappointment and responsibility, while a safety-framed message was more effective for those with greater fear, perceived crisis severity or prevention focus.