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«13TH INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH CONFERENCE “Ethical Issues for Public Relations Practice in a Multicultural World” Holiday Inn ...»

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In terms of our focus on both of general public’s and journalists’ emotions and perceptions of crisis responsibility, we need to use high-profile crisis cases that generate higher levels of anger and concern for the crisis. In this concern, the Samsung oil spill case in South Korea was selected. On December 7th in 2007 a collision between a crane barge of Samsung and the Hong Kong-registered oil tanker off the coast of Taean, South Korea, earmarked one of the nation’s worst oil spill crises. The crisis itself has three distinctive crisis phases: 1) when first Samsung stayed out of the crisis (Dec. 07, 2007 – Dec. 09, 2007), 2) when publics noticed possible cause and involvement of Samsung with the crisis, but Samsung had no comments 398 about the crisis (Dec.10, 2007- Jan. 20, 2008), and 3) when Samsung took accommodative actions and officially apologized (Jan. 21, 2008 – Jan. 24, 2008). Within the three crisis phases, Samsung took several CRS in accordance with reputational threats posed publics and moving their stance from advocacy to accommodation. The crisis produced extensive publics’ blame toward Samsung within each crisis phase, and finally ended with lawsuits.

Methods Study Design In order to examine the proposed research questions, this study employed a quantitative content analysis of both of the major Korean newspapers’ and blogs’ crisis coverage regarding the Samsung oil spill crisis. Journalists’ framing of news report and individuals’ blogging may reflect dynamics of crisis situations and their reactions in times of crisis insofar as it includes contingent factors and Samsung’s CRS. Thus, the content analysis may be useful to examine the above concerns. Two national newspapers (i.e., Chosun Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo) and blogs searched on www.naver.com, a leading Korean portal site, were selected.

Data Collection The news articles were downloaded from each newspaper Database (e.g., www.chosun.com and www.joins.com) using the two search terms “Taean oil spill” and “Samsung oil spill,” because the two keywords reflected different levels of attributions and blame toward Samsung, and thus should be implemented. We use three timelines in accordance with the three crisis phases: 1) from 7 Dec. 2007 to 9 Dec. 2007 (i.e., the first crisis phase when Samsung “Stayed-out” of the crisis), 2) from10 Dec. 2007 to 20 Jan. 2008 (i.e., the second crisis phase when Samsung has no action), and 3) from 21 Jan. 2008 to 24 Jan. 2008 (i.e., the third crisis phase when Samsung officially apologized). In terms of each timeline and the two keywords, 1) 29 articles were generated for the first phase (12 articles from Chosun Ilbo and 17 articles from JoongAng Ilbo), 2) 37 articles were generated for the second phase (17 articles from Chosun Ilbo and 20 articles from JoongAng Ilbo), and 3) 30 articles were generated for the third phase (20 articles from Chosun Ilbo and 10 articles from JoongAng Ilbo). Both editorials and feature news, including news briefings, were also included.

This study also collected blogs on the Samsung oil spill. To identify the target blogs, the same criterion of key words and time frames were used. We searched NAVER, a leading Korean portal site by using the above two key words, and generated 29 postings for the first phase, 29 postings for the second phase, and 30 postings for the third phase. Thus, the decision resulted in a total of 96 news articles and 88 blogs analyzed for this study.

Coding Categories Each blog posting and news article germane to the Samsung oil spill was a unit of analysis. For both blogs and online news articles, the categories of analysis included the posted/issued date, the blog/newspaper, crisis time phases, perceptions of crisis responsibility, contingent factors, types and times of each public mentioned, and crisis response strategies of the Samsung. Additionally, emotion (i.e., anger, alertness, sad, fright, anxiety, others) was also coded by examining comments on blogs and news articles.

Crisis phase. The phase was identified by examining the critical events during the lifecycle of the crisis. As briefly discussed above, the “Stayed-out” phase (coded as 1) included contents from 7 Dec. 2007 (the first news report regarding the oil spill incident) to 9 Dec. 2007.

399 The “No-action” phase (coded as 2) included contents from 10 Dec. 2007 to 20 Jan. 2008, when news articles reported Samsung’s cause of the crisis, but Samsung employed no accommodative actions besides letting its employees volunteer for cleanup efforts. Finally, the “Apology” phase from 21 Jan. 2008 to 24 Jan. 2008 was defined as the aftermath of Korean government’s official blame toward Samsung and Samsung’s announcement of official apology (coded as 3).

Contingent factors. As mentioned above, due to limitation of news articles and blogs for reflecting internal contingent factors, only external factors were coded under six sub-categories.

These factors included (a) threats (e.g., story addressed the oil spill of how serious it is and the Samsung’s reputational threats); (b) industry environment (e.g., story concerning impact of the oil spill on the nation’s economy); (c) general political/social environment/cultural environment, (e.g., political support for victims or publics’ support or opposition to Samsung) ; (d) external public (e.g., victims, fisheries of Taean, and leading shipping organizations); (e) issue under question (e.g., arguments about the possible sources of the oil spill); and (f) others.





Crisis response strategies. Crisis response strategies (CRS) were coded insofar as Samsung’s CRS for different public groups: Hebei Spirit (another cause of the collision), general public, victims (e.g. locals in Taean), environmental organizations, Korean government, local government, legal parties, other shipping organizations, and others. Based on Jin et al.’s modified typology of CRS (2006), the eight strategies were measured: (1) attack the accuser (e.g., if Samsung accuse the victims and/or media of exaggerating the damage of the crisis while defending itself against the oil spill), (2) denial (e.g., if asserting that the collision between its crane barge and Hebei Spirit’s oil tanker was not due to their fault, but due to bad weather), (3) excuse (e.g., avoiding or minimizing its responsibility by shifting the main blame toward Hebei Spirit), (4) justification (e.g., explaining why it took a long time to investigate the cause of the crisis), (5) corrective action (e.g., correcting the source of the problem and addressing the victim’s needs), (6) ingratiation (e.g., publicizing the organization’s unexceptional profits or great performances to shareholders during the crisis), (7) cooperation (e.g., working with Korean government to resolve the situation and helping the clean-up efforts), and (8) full apology (e.g., taking full responsibility the oil spill or releasing official apologies to publics).

Crisis responsibility. Crisis responsibility was coded, based on whether a specific organization was blamed for the Samsung oil spill in blogs/news items. Various attributional organizations were identified (e.g., Samsung, Hebei Spirit, Korean government, Local government, see above). Multiple options were used to code this category since there could be more than one organization blamed. Coders were asked to judge each parties’ crisis responsibility projected on blogs and news articles as being neutral (0), weak (+1), strong (+2), or no mention (9).

Emotion. The five primary emotions (i.e., anger, alertness, sadness, fright, and anxiety) were coded by referring to the previous literature (Choi & Lin, 2009a, 2009b; Jin, 2009) and by a careful examination of sample articles and postings. Based on previous typology of emotions (Choi & Lin, 2009a, 2009b; Jin, 2009), the five emotions were measured: (1) anger (e.g., censure an organization for the negligence of its cause of the oil spill), (2) alertness (e.g., warn an organization about following threats posed by publics), (3) sadness (e.g., express sympathy for victims), (4) fright (e.g., fear regarding whether and how an oil spill cause environmental devastation ), (5) anxiety (e.g., worry about the clean-up operation or economy of Taean).

In operation, sentences involving those emotions associated with Samsung were coded by calculating the total number of emotion comments manifested in each blogs and/or news articles.

The five emotions could be directed toward different organizations. Therefore, whenever 400 possible, emotions toward different parties — Samsung, Hebei Spirit, Korean government, local government, and other — were coded separately.

Coding Procedure and Inter-coder Reliability Two graduate students were trained to code the news articles and blogs. After training sessions, two coders independently coded 15 percent of the news articles and blogs, which were randomly selected from the samples. The test of inter-coder reliability showed a Scott’s Pi of.91 for CRS for blogs and.85 for the newspapers; Scott’s Pi of.90 for contingent factors for blogs, and.75 for newspapers. Emotion was coded as repeated measures, and perception of crisis responsibility was coded as continuous measures. Thus, instead of Scott’s Pi, assessing intercoder reliability of categorical variables, we used Krippendorf’s R: a Krippendorf’s R of.72 for responsibility for blogs, and.83 for newspapers; a Krippendorf’s R of.87 for emotion for blogs, and.91 for newspapers, indicating that the agreement between the coders was acceptable. Two coders then coded the rest of the news articles and blogs independently.

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According to univariate analyses (see Table 2-1), there was a significant difference between two public types in anger [F (1, 178) = 33.053, p.001, ηp2 =.157] and alertness [F (1, 178) = 10.132, p.01, ηp2 =.054]. Similarly, there was a significant difference among three crisis phases in anger [F (2, 178) = 19.057, p.001, ηp2 =.176], alertness [F (2, 178) = 9.716, p.001, ηp2 =.098], and anxiety [F (2, 178) = 3.171, p.05, ηp2 =.034]. In the case of the interaction between public types and crisis phases, the interaction had a significant difference in anger [F (2, 178) = 4.575, p.05, ηp2 =.049] and alertness [F (2, 178) = 3.139, p.05, ηp2 =.034]; however, the interaction did not show a significant difference in other emotions.

Specifically, the interaction effects indicated that at the first phase, journalists did not express anger while general public revealed little anger (M =.414, SE =.347). While journalists showed 401

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Lastly, in terms of CRS, chi-square analysis indicated only CRS of general public [χ2 (10) = 37.619, p.001] and CRS of local in Taean [χ2 (8) = 23.542, p.01] showed significant differences according to crisis phases (RQ4a). In the case of CRS for general public, there was only a few excuse (n = 3, 100%) CRS at the first phase, supporting our category of the three crisis phase. However, at the second phase, denial (n = 6, 33.3%), excuse (n = 7, 38.9%), justification (n = 2, 11.1%), corrective action (n = 2, 11.1%), and ingratiation (n = 1, 5.6%) appeared and at the third phase, excuse (n = 4, 16.7%), justification (n = 1, 4.2%), and full apology (n = 19, 42.2%) appeared (see Table 7-1). In the case of CRS for local in Taean, excuse (n = 3, 75%) and corrective action (n = 1, 25%) were found at the first phase. However, at the second phase, denial (n = 6, 30.0%), excuse (n = 6, 30.0%), justification (n = 2, 10.0%), and corrective action (n = 6, 30.0%) appeared; at the third phase, excuse (n = 9, 37.5%), justification (n = 3, 12.5%), corrective action (n = 2, 8.3%), and full apology (n = 10, 41.7%) appeared (see Table 7-2).

407

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Discussion This study initially compared blogs and online newspapers in order to investigate both of general public’s and journalists’ emotions towards different public types and their perceptions of crisis responsibility within three crisis phase.

First, in testing RQ1, examining how the five emotions (i.e., anger, alertness, sadness, fright, and anxiety) were differently evidenced in blogs and online news coverage, the results suggested that the people’s emotion differed across journalists and general public as well as the time phases. More specifically, there was the main effect of public types and the three crisis phases on five emotions. That is, only anger and alertness were expressed differently between journalists and general public; and anger, alertness, and anxiety were produced differently across the crisis phases. From Choi and Lin’s study, which indicated that anger and alertness were the only significant emotions affecting an organization’s reputation and public’s boycott (2009a), our findings suggest that anger and alertness which differently expressed from crisis phases and public sources might pose various levels of reputational threats, which in turn affects Samsung’s crisis communication. It was interesting to see among the four primary emotions proposed by Jin (2009); anger and worry were produced differently across the three time phases..

In addition, there were only significant interaction effects between public types and crisis phases on anger and alertness. That is, while journalists showed little anger at the “No-action” phase when Samsung did not utilize accommodative strategies despite their direct cause of the crisis, general public produced more anger. At the “Apology” phase, even when Samsung officially apologized, general public produced more anger than journalists. These findings are inconsistent with previous literature. From previous literature, accepting apology (Jorgensen,

1996) and employing more accommodative strategies (Coombs & Holladay, 2007) are most effective post-crisis tactics for reducing anger. However, it was intriguing to see in our case, not only that general public produced anger differently from journalists in each crisis phase, but also they showed greater anger toward Samsung after its official apology. For alertness, at the second phase, similar to anger, while journalists showed little alertness, general public produced more alertness and greater alertness than the third phase. It might be the fact that during the second phase, since the organization did not utilize any accommodative strategies in spite of its direct cause of the oil spill, general public tend to warn Samsung or force it to take any action, which was expressed as alertness.



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