Chung, Angie. (2018). Examining the effectiveness of using CSR communication in apology statements after bad publicity. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 23(3), 357-376.

Summary
The purpose of this study is to contribute to understanding the effects of framing apology statements with corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications after a company has suffered negative publicity. Specifically, this study examined the role of CSR fit on consumers’ skepticism towards the apology statement and attitude towards the company compared to a no-CSR message condition. In addition, the study also analyzed the interaction effects between CSR fit and history on skepticism towards the apology statement and attitude towards the company.

Method
A 2 (CSR fit: high or low) x 2 (CSR history: long or short) between-subject design was employed to examine the hypotheses. In addition, a no-CSR message group without any mention of CSR activities was included. To test the hypothesized constructs of main interest (i.e. CSR fit and CSR history) and incremental validity in the same set of model equations, this study used a hierarchical regression approach.

Key Findings

  • The high CSR fit condition led to less skepticism towards the apology statement and a more positive attitude towards the company than the no-CSR message condition did.
  • The low CSR fit condition, in contrast, led to more skepticism towards the apology statement and a less positive attitude towards the company than the no-CSR message condition did.
  • In addition, the results showed that the interaction effects between CSR fit and history will predict skepticism towards the apology statement and attitude towards the company.

Implications for Practice
Public relations practitioners should have a good understanding of how to handle negative publicity by providing an effective apology statement. The results of this study suggest that they may consider including statements about a companys CSR activities in an apology statement only when consumers can easily see an association between the company and the cause. CSR is generally associated with positive virtues. However, according to the results of this study, it may be better to omit CSR-related comments in an apology statement when company-CSR fit is low, even when the company has a long history of supporting the cause.

Article Location
The full article is available at: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/CCIJ-06-2017-0055

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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