A joint study between the University of Missouri and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University followed the reactions of news readers when reviewing an article about a crisis. The stories were written from two different angles.
The first, an “anger-frame” story, was written in a way that laid blame on the involved organization. The second, a “sadness-frame” story, focused on the victims and their plight in the crisis. The “anger-frame” story led readers to follow the story less closely, and afterward they had significantly negative attitudes toward the involved organization. The “sadness-frame” story, on the other hand, had readers focused on the victims and recovery efforts, and left them in a more positive state of mind.
What does this mean, then, for real-world crisis communications? First, it demonstrates the power of working with the media. Giving a curt “no comment” is a great way to lead a reporter directly into writing that “anger-frame” story you’re trying to avoid.