The Effectiveness of Situational Crisis Communication Theory in Assessing Personal Political Apologies: A Case Study Approach

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Basha, Lena Mallory
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Crafting an effective apology when responding to a crisis is not a one size fits all process. Thus, understanding the type of apology and the context that comes with it is critical to building and implementing crisis response strategies. The various considerations required in this process are demonstrated in Timothy Coombs’ Situational Crisis Communications Theory (SCCT) (Coombs, 2007). This study examines the usefulness of SCCT as a framework for examining personal political apologies; a type of apology with little representation in the sphere of crisis communications research. Through a case study approach, 42 news articles covering an apology from a politician addressing impaired driving charges, were coded and analyzed through the guidelines proposed by the SCCT framework. Findings demonstrated that there is some usefulness in SCCT on personal political apologies. However, there were gaps apparent in the theory, and the broader literature available, that warrant further exploration to better accommodate personal political apologies in the realm of crisis communications.