From Messaging to Behavioral Strategy: Constructing a Model of Relationship- and Action-Focused Crisis Communication Principles
Existing crisis communication theories are useful in guiding organizations to choose crisis responses that help buffer them from a crisis by shaping how publics interpret the crisis. However, in crises, publics who suffer from negative consequences expect organizations to focus on problem-solving behaviors and eventual restoration of relationships. As a reflective theorizing of the perspectives of publics, this study introduces six relationship- and action-focused principles—relationship, accountability, promptness, inclusivity, disclosure, and symmetry (RAPIDS)—that emphasize how organizations should redress the need for problem solving and bridge with publics to build and maintain organization–public relationships before, during, and after a crisis. A survey (N = 436) was conducted in the United States to test the construct reliability and validity of RAPIDS for three crises. The findings show conceptual and operational adequacy with an overarching latent construct (a second-order factor structure) encompassing all six principles. Furthermore, the construct is positively associated with forgiveness.