Buffering Negative News: Individual-level Effects of Company Visibility, Tone, and Pre-existing Attitudes on Corporate Reputation

Jeroen G.F. Jonkman*, Mark Boukes, Rens Vliegenthart, Piet Verhoeven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Building on the agenda-setting theory, this study investigates the effect of corporations’ visibility and tone in news coverage on reputation. More specifically, we examine the buffering role that prior reputation may have for the potential damaging impact of news coverage. Providing a stringent test of causality, data from an automated content analysis of Dutch online and print newspaper coverage (N = 5,235 articles) were linked to individual responses from a three-wave panel survey (N = 3,270 respondents) with repeated measurements of corporate reputation (12 organizations). The analyses show that mere exposure to corporations negatively affects reputation, whereas tone has a positive effect on reputation. It is furthermore shown that the effect of negative news is three times larger than the effect of positive news. Finally, in accordance with research on buffering effects of corporate reputation, we demonstrate that negative news is less influential for people holding more positive existing reputational attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-296
Number of pages25
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

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