W. Timothy Coombs

W. Timothy Coombs
Texas A&M University | TAMU · Department of Communication

PhD

About

140
Publications
193,783
Reads
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10,027
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2000 - June 2015
University of Central Florida
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (140)
Article
The notion of threat is central to contingency theory in general and its specific applications to crisis communication. Contingency theory researchers have noted how the concept of threat needs to be developed in more depth. This paper integrates moral outrage into the threat appraisal model by refining and reusing the threat level variable. We adv...
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Sustainability communication is critical to society but challenging due to the complex concepts that must be conveyed to people in order to encourage them to be part of social change. Narratives have been identified as one means for creating persuasive sustainability messages, especially when considered as part of transmedia storytelling. This chap...
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Digital communication has proven to be an influential force in a variety of strategic communication settings (Plowman and Wilson,.International Journal of Strategic Communication 12:125–144, 2018). It follows that we should consider the effects of digital communication on scandals and the scandalization process. From a social construction perspecti...
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Describes the intersection of crisis and scandal - a SCANSIS. Discusses Crisis and Communication Research, including SCCT, and describes Corporate Scandals. In some cases (and for some crisis types) there may be overlap between the two - a SCANSIS. Moral outrage fuses crisis and scandal. Pre- and Post-crisis phases are discussed. This chapter offer...
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe three foundational concepts that contribute to conceptual heritage of the field of public relations (publics, organizations and relationships). Conceptual heritage is positioned as a type of shared public memory, a dominant narrative, that encourages adherence to the past whilst recognizing that coun...
Article
Issues of reputation management are negotiated in a wide array of contexts, yet arguably one of the most visible of these areas involves how such stories unfold within the sporting arena. Whether involving individual athletes, teams, organizations, leagues, or global entities, the process of navigating issues of image repair and/or restoration and...
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Organizations in crisis often fail to select the optimal crisis response strategy, preferring strategies that avoid short-term losses over the ones that offer long-term gains. This article proposes a descriptive theory of behavioral crisis communication that uses principles of behavioral economics to explain the recurrence of suboptimal anomalies f...
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Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to explore how communicative responses and different sources of communication affect stakeholders’ perception of corporate reputation. The main goal was to explore the effects of crisis response strategy and source of crisis communication on organizational and speaker reputations. In a 2 × 2 scenario experiment, respon...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper, a set of two studies, is to elaborate on the concept of scansis and its effects upon crisis communication theory and practice. A scansis represents the intersection of a scandal and crisis, essentially when a crisis becomes a scandal. A new term was created due to the varied ways in which the term scandal is used...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to craft a new perspective on how we can view public relations that reflects important trends emerging in the field including digital media, storytelling, engagement and co-creation of meaning. Transmedia storytelling (an idea with some ties to public relations) and narrative transportation theory are synthesize...
Chapter
This chapter begins with a marketing‐oriented type of engagement and shifts to a more decision‐oriented focus. It explains the dynamics of hashtag jacking and its relationship to challenge crises. The chapter focuses on a specific case of hashtag hijacking to illustrate the process of engagement jujutsu where by stakeholders seek to change the term...
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This chapter traces the development of crisis communication from its beginnings in rhetoric to its current emphasis on social science and the implications of this shift for rhetoric based crisis communication research. Current crisis communication research emphasizes a microlevel approach that favors social scientific inquiry. The term microlevel a...
Article
Purpose The paper describes the need to theorize firms’ involvement in social issues and proposes the social issues management model as a framework for analyzing the communication processes underlying social issues management. An application of the new approach is illustrated through a brief case analysis. Design/methodology/approach The paper i...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to address the under-researched issue of how formal determinations of organizational responsibility for a crisis affect the effectiveness of the denial strategy in protecting organizational reputation. Because studies that omit later determinations of responsibility produce misleading representations of the valu...
Chapter
The southern California wildfires of 2007, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Hurricane Sandy in 2013, the Boston bombings in 2013 and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan are all examples of disasters that are linked to social media. The five examples all caused people to re-think the way social media is used during a disaster. More precisely, each...
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This chapter outlines the challenges facing researchers seeking to carry out international crisis communication research. These challenges draw heavily upon international marketing research and are divided into two groups. The first set of concerns involve concerns during the research process and includes problem definition, research design, data a...
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Full-text available
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PurposeThis chapter proposes a framework for analyzing how stakeholder-initiated challenges through social media and traditional media can shape the meaning of responsible behavior and pressure organizations to alter irresponsible behavior in order to protect their reputations. Methodology/approachFollowing a description of the nature of stakeholde...
Chapter
Full-text available
Purpose - Corporate managers must find a way to communicate their CSR activities to stakeholders without creating a boomerang effect where the CSR messages create resentment of instead of support for the corporation. One alternative is to use social media channels because they are low cost and can use a soft sell approach, thereby reducing the like...
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The field of strategic communication encompasses a burgeoning crisis communication literature that seeks to identify effective and ineffective crisis communication efforts. Strategic communication has identified an array of crisis response strategies and the factors that determine when these response options are effective or ineffective. This artic...
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a rationale and framework for examining stakeholder reactions to crisis communication messages in various social media channels. Stakeholders can become crisis communications by entering various sub-arenas of the larger rhetorical arena. The concept of sub-arena is presented and a case analysis used...
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This case study examines student perceptions of a university's management of an alleged threat against their campus that was posted on Facebook. The timeline of events describes how the university's threat prevention response triggered a rumor crisis due to incomplete and poorly timed official information dissemination. A convenience sample of stud...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter explores the future of international crisis communication. The interest in international crisis communication continues to increase. International business, typified by long supply chains, continues to create potential international crises. Moreover, the social media adds to the need to improve our understanding of international crisis...
Article
The 1908 Great Race from New York to Paris captured the imagination of the world as intrepid competitors endured the hardships of the around the world race. The New York Times, its co-sponsor and source of the publicity, was in a unique position to practice media relations. Framing research was used to examine how the New York Times used strategic...
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Full-text available
This article introduces the concept of public relations literacy and proposes that public relations literacy should be promoted to empower consumers of public relations’ actions and messages and to increase the accountability of practitioners. The goals of this article are to describe the concept of public relations literacy as a subset of media li...
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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to examine how corporate social responsibility (CSR) transparency claims are propagating a belief in a modern panopticon for ensuring responsible corporate behavior. Corporations use transparency claims to cultivate the impression of full disclosure. The paper aims to explore why people believe transparency en...
Article
The dominance of Excellence Theory in public relations theory and research may be eroding as contemporary issues in corporations, including the concern with activist challenges to reputation management and corporate social responsibility, increase in visibility and demand explanation. We argue that Excellence Theory‘s seemingly reluctant evolution...
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Social media is emerging as critical element of scanning for many crisis risks. When these crisis risks emerge online, people often confuse them with crises and that is why we have developed the term paracrisis. Para can mean “like” something. A paracrisis is like a crisis. It can “look like” a crisis and does require action from the organization....
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This article elaborates on the argument that the history of U.S. public relations has been distorted by the emphasis on corporate functions of public relations. The dominant corporate-centric view of U.S. public relations history often claim that public relations developed as a response to activists who attempted to interfere with business operatio...
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to contribute to understanding of crisis communication application and theory by analyzing online reactions of discussion board participants to assess the effectiveness of an apology issued online. Design/methodology/approach – This paper uses a content analysis of naturally-occurring online reactions to an ap...
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Managing Corporate Social Responsibility offers a strategic, communication-centred approach to integrating CSR into organizations. Drawing from a variety of disciplines and written in a highly accessible style, the book guides readers in a focused progression providing the key points they need to successfully navigate the benefits and implications...
Chapter
Overarching Concerns for CSR InitiativesResponsibility for CSR InitiativesLimitations from Industry, Culture, and LawParting Thoughts
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EvaluationStakeholder Engagement in the Evaluation ProcessFeedbackConclusion and Critical Questions
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Selecting the CSR Initiatives: Appreciating the Contestable Nature of CSRDiffering CSR Expectations among StakeholdersWhat Constitutes CSR?The “Right Amount” of CSRWhen Employees Challenge CSR: Considering Internal StakeholdersPreparing for Negative Stakeholder Reactions: Message MappingDeveloping CSR Objectives Conclusion and Critical Questions
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Researching Stakeholder Expectations for CSRThe Counterbalance: Corporate ConcernsConclusion and Critical Questions
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CSR Promotional Communication DilemmaCommunication Channels for CSR MessagingThe Overall CSR Promotional Communication StrategyConclusion and Critical Questions
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Issues ManagementScanning and CSRMonitoring and CSRScanning and Monitoring in ConcertStakeholder Engagement's Role in Scanning and MonitoringConclusion and Critical Questions
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Characteristics of the CorporationStakeholder Expectations and the Importance of Organizational IdentificationReputational Benefits of CSRPerceived Motives for CSR InitiativesGeneral Strategic Guidance: Approaching the CSR Process as Change ManagementThe CSR Process Model: A Brief Preview
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Full-text available
External organizational discourse can have effects on society through the policies it helps to create or the policies it helps to defeat. One type of external discourse that shapes policies is corporate efforts to create self-regulation and to prevent governmental regulation.. This article explores the use of self-regulatory discourse designed to e...
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide context for and a preview of the content for the special issue on corporate apologia. Design/methodology/approach – The methodology is a review of literature relevant to crisis communication and the role of apologia within this body of literature. Findings – Apologia, a rhetoric of self-defense, has...
Chapter
Key Definitions for CrisisCrisis Management ProcessGeneral Nature of Crisis Communication ResearchCrisis Communication: Overview and HistoryConclusion References
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An Evidence-Based Approach to Crisis CommunicationCrisis Communication Research: The FoundationThe Future of Crisis Communication ResearchConclusion References
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Sustainability is becoming an increasing important topic for managers. One illustration is the development of the strategic sustainability management discipline. There is a growing expectation that corporations will address sustainability in some fashion. Moreover, sustainability is used to shape reputations in part through corporate social respons...
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Full-text available
Institutionalizing can mean becoming part of a larger structure or being placed in the care of an institution. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has communicative demands that present an opportunity for strategic communication to become part of the organizational management structure. However, communication practice also must resist the force o...
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Crisis communication represents a rapidly growing body of research and is seeing an increased use of experimental methods. However, the experiments have relied exclusively on print stimuli resulting in little knowledge of channel effects on crisis communication. This study evaluates the effects of different response strategies and media channels on...
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Crisis communication has begun to systematically examine how people perceive the crisis response strategies using experimental designs. This is an important step in the evolution of crisis communication research. One problem with this research has been the over promotion of apology as “the” response. Too often the value of an apology is established...

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