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Repairing a damaged organizational reputation: Can celebrities’ Tweets do the work?

Norel, N.D. (2012) Repairing a damaged organizational reputation: Can celebrities’ Tweets do the work?

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Abstract:Nowadays, many organizations use Twitter as part of their communication strategy. This study focuses on the question if organizations can use Twitter in order to repair a damaged organizational reputation. More specifically, the research concerns the sending of Tweets by celebrities instead of organizations themselves. This because previous research has revealed that information from secondary sources is being viewed as more reliable than information from organizations themselves. The following research question has been created: To what extent can organizations use Twitter, making use of a celebrity, to repair a damaged organizational reputation? The use of celebrities in order to influence people is not a new phenomenon. Many organizations engage in celebrity endorsement in order to create a positive brand image or brand attitude, or to increase purchase intention. With the rise of Twitter we see that this phenomenon also takes places via this social medium. More and more organizations, especially in the United States, are paying celebrities for spreading positive messages about the organization and more specifically about their products. Recently, Dutch organizations have also started to approach celebrities for promoting their organization. Celebrities who use Twitter can exert influence because they have a large amount of followers and their messages are often retweeted. However, it is also important for celebrities to be seen as credible, because otherwise their message cannot be convincing. Research has revealed that besides expertise and trust, source attractiveness has an influence on credibility. The current study will compare the perception of attractiveness with the perception of intelligence. A pre-test has been executed in order to find an attractive and an intelligent celebrity. In addition to the different types of celebrities, two different types of Tweets will be used in this study: Tweets containing an experience with an organization and Tweets containing general information about an organization. Preliminary analysis showed that these two types of Tweets are sent most by celebrities. In this study a 2 x 2 (type of celebrity x type of message) experiment will be executed. This experiment will be repeated for two Dutch organizations: KLM airlines and NS railways. First, respondents were asked about their opinion regarding the organization. Next, they were shown a news message containing negative information about the organization. After a second reputation measurement, respondents read a Tweet of celebrity. Subsequently, a third reputation measurement was executed. The results reveal that celebrities’ Tweets can indeed have a positive influence on the reputation of organizations. However, the Tweets could not repair the reputation to such an extent that the reputation was back on the initial level, before the appearance of the negative news message. No significant differences were found between the four conditions. This leads us to the conclusion that it does not matter whether a celebrity is attractive or intelligent, or whether he sends a message containing an experience or containing general information. But, when looking to the likability that an attractive celebrity shares general information about an organization it is found that this is at a low level compared to the other conditions. Therefore, it is recommended to organizations to keep this in mind when using a celebrity in order to repair a damaged organizational reputation
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/61536
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