A Matter for the Boss? How Personalized Communication Affects Recipients’ Perceptions of an Organization During a Crisis

Nora Denner, Benno Viererbl, Thomas Koch


A crisis can pose a serious threat to an organization. Parties, NGOs, and companies alike need to secure their reputation when a crisis hits. When choosing an adequate crisis communication strategy, organizations must also decide who should communicate with the public. Although many organizations choose to place high-level executives such as the chairperson up front, few studies have analyzed the effects of personalized communication in times of crisis on an organization’s image or reputation. In the current study, therefore, we conduct two experiments to investigate the effects of personalized crisis communication. We vary both the crisis type and the level of personalization. Our findings suggest that personalized statements have a more favorable impact on an organization’s image than unpersonalized statements. Furthermore, statements from an organization’s leader are perceived as most appropriate, followed by those from a spokesperson and unpersonalized statements.


personalization, organizational communication, crisis communication, crisis management, reputation, leadership, experimental research

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