There Is a Time for Everything in Organizational Corrective Communication: The Effects of Correction Placement Timing and Refutation Detail Level on Combating Crisis Misinformation

Xuerong Lu (PhD alum) and Yan Jin (2023, May). “There Is a Time for Everything in Organizational Corrective Communication: The Effects of Correction Placement Timing and Refutation Detail Level on Combating Crisis Misinformation.” Public Relations Division, International Communication Association (ICA) Annual Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Abstract: Three understudied areas in organizational crisis misinformation management are: the timing of placing organizational correction message, level of detail a reputational message should provide, and how to tailor corrective message according to the narrative strategies embedded in the initial misinformation attack. To close this research gap by examining all three elements in an organizational crisis setting, an online experiment with 2 (placement of corrective information: 2 (prebunking vs. debunking) x 2 (detail level of refutation: simple rebuttal vs. factual elaboration) x 2 (Misinformation attack: victim narrative vs. blame narrative) between-subjects, full-factorial design was conducted among 490 U.S. adults to examine the main and interaction effects of misinformation narrative type, and correction elements (i.e., the timing of correction placement and reputational message detail). Results implied that prebunking strategy, especially when combined with factual elaboration, is superior in correcting participants’ misperception of organizational crisis responsibility, repairing organizational reputation, and limiting further misinformation spread. The results also showed the difficulty of using factual elaboration to combat organizational crisis misinformation when the misinformation was told via blame narrative. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

The Effects of Corrective Communication and Employee Backup on the Effectiveness of Fighting Crisis Misinformation

Accepted for presentation at the International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Public Relations Division, May 21-25, 2020, Gold Coast, Australia.

Abstract: Crisis misinformation, including false information about a crisis or a crisis-stricken organization, has become a fundamental threat to organizational wellbeing. Effective crisis response geared toward fighting crisis misinformation demands a more systematic approach to corrective communication. Grounded in misinformation debunking theory, this study aims to advance misinformation research in public relations and organizational crisis communication. An online experiment using a U.S. adult sample was conducted to examine the effects of corrective communication strategy (simple rebuttal vs. factual elaboration) and employee backup (present vs. absent) on perceived message quality, organizational reputation, and perceived crisis responsibility. Results show: 1) the use of factual elaboration and the presence of employee backup were direct contributors to crisis response effectiveness; and 2) perceived message quality mediates the effect of corrective communication. This study provides insights into advancing crisis communication theory and offers evidence-based recommendations for practitioners to combat crisis misinformation more effectively.