When frames align: The interplay between PR, news media, and the public in times of crisis

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


This study focuses on the frame-building process of organizational-crisis situations in the interplay between the domains public relations (PR), news media, and the public. The purpose of the study is to investigate whether the crisis frames of the domains align over time. To empirically analyze frame alignment, an automated semantic-network analysis is introduced to compare implicit framing among the domains. By examining press releases, news articles, and social-media manifestations of four Dutch crisis cases, the dynamic character of crisis framing became apparent. The study documents the rise of crisis-frame alignment among PR, news media, and the public over time. After frame alignment the domains' discourses move away from one another resulting in more variation between frames. This pattern of alignment is considered to be crisis specific as a necessity to collectively make sense of a complex crisis situation. The collective sensemaking might be crucial to solve organizational crises and to avoid uncontrollable crisis magnification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-761
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Automated-content analysis
  • Collective sensemaking
  • Crisis communication
  • Frame alignment
  • Implicit framing
  • Semantic-network analysis


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