Communication in times of crisis: The stakeholder relationship under pressure

Toni G.L.A. van der Meer*, Piet Verhoeven, Hans W.J. Beentjes, Rens Vliegenthart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


This paper studies how stakeholder relationships change when an organization undergoes a crisis as compared to routine circumstances. During crises, the stakeholder relationships are under pressure, and therewith the organization's reputation and the crisis intensity. This paper's purpose is to investigate how, during a crisis, pressure from both internal stakeholders (i.e., management and employees) and external stakeholders (i.e., news media and interested citizens) influences public-relations professionals’ communicative relationships with these stakeholders. 444 PR European professionals, who experienced crises, were surveyed about crisis and routine times. Special focus was on the mediation role of time pressure and uncertainty. Structural-equation models revealed that, in crisis, the increased pressure from news media, citizens, and employees negatively affects the communicative relationship with these stakeholders, whereas management pressure was found to have a positive effect. This observation might point to organizational isolation on a managerial level in the initial crisis phase, partly as a result of stakeholder pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-440
Number of pages15
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Crisis communication
  • Stakeholder pressure
  • Stakeholder relationship
  • Time pressure
  • Uncertainty


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