Society frowns upon spinning and so do the alleged spin doctors: Tests of present and future crisis communicators responding to spin in the media

David E. Clementson & Beatty, M. J. (in press). “Society frowns upon spinning and so do the alleged spin doctors: Tests of present and future crisis communicators responding to spin in the media.” Mass Communication and Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2022.2124920

Abstract: Although spin pervades mass communication, crisis communicators claim that they share society’s aversion to spin. Grounded upon image repair theory and the practical model for ethical decision making, we report two experiments testing the reactions of crisis communicators exposed to a media interview in which a company spokesperson either spins or provides answers in line with normative crisis communication. Study 1 (N = 261 public relations practitioners and professional journalists) tests whether crisis communicators’ cognitions align with those working in the media and with normative theory. Study 2 (N = 315 public relations students aspiring to work in the industry) provides a replication of Study 1 concerning the processing of spin and adds perceived competence as a theoretical variable. The studies indicate that present and future crisis communicators have positive attitudes toward the organization under scrutiny, sense more goodwill, and perceive the message source as more competent, when normative crisis messaging is used rather than spin. Mediation analysis demonstrates that increased goodwill leads to more positive attitudes toward the organization, which bolsters organizational reputation. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed. https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/ZNNFJFYVDWXIHKCRSZ7K/full?target=10.1080/15205436.2022.2124920

David Clementson 

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