Rice U. expert: Companies ‘can no longer reactively manage their reputations every time a crisis occurs’


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Rice U. expert: Companies ‘can no longer reactively manage their reputations every time a crisis occurs’

HOUSTON – (April 11, 2017) – As United Airlines responds to public reaction to an incident on one of its flights Sunday evening, a Rice University expert views the development as a case study in modern reputation management.

Credit: Shutterstock.com/Rice University

Anastasiya (Annie) Zavyalova, assistant professor of strategic management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, said that in a customer-centric industry, public perceptions about a company become a foundation of its reputation. She is available to discuss United’s crisis management situation with the media.

“What has been rapidly changing in the reputation-management landscape is the role of social media,” Zavyalova said. “No longer do customers wait on mainstream media to publish stories about companies to learn about their actions. And business-to-customer companies, like United Airlines, can no longer reactively manage their reputations every time a crisis occurs. They have an opportunity to use social media to engage with their stakeholders. Those firms that adapt to this change quickly will be able to weather such crises better.”

Zavyalova’s research focuses on negative events in organizations and the role of the media and organizational identification for stakeholder support following such incidents.

Scott Sonenshein, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at the Jones School, said the United incident “seems to keep having legs,” pointing to a recent situation involving a United flight in Hawaii. “Organizations need to be creative in solving unexpected problems like this,” Sonenshein said. “This is a clear leadership failure.”

To schedule an interview with Zavyalova or Sonenshein, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


Follow the Jones Graduate School of Business on Twitter @Rice_Biz.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:

Sonenshein bio: http://sonenshein.rice.edu.

Zavyalova bio: https://business.rice.edu/person/anastasiya-zavyalova.

Jones Graduate School of Business: http://business.rice.edu.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.