Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Politics. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 March 2023

Image Repair in Crisis Communicationlocked

Image Repair in Crisis Communicationlocked

  • William L. BenoitWilliam L. BenoitDepartment of Communication Studies, University of Alabama at Birmingham


Image repair theory observes that threats to image (for individuals, groups, and organizations, such as companies or countries) are inevitable. Because reputation is important, criticisms usually provoke a response, defense, or image repair message(s). Each attack (each criticism) has two components, offensiveness and blame. Defenses can address either component (e.g., arguing that an act was offensive or rejecting blame for it). Five general strategies and 14 tactics exist for image repair. Perceptions are key in image repair: the audience’s perceived image of the target prompts criticism and attack; the audience’s perceptions of the message influence the effectiveness of a defense.

Those who feel impelled to create image repair messages may face one or more audiences; the image concerns of various audiences may overlap or may be different. This means the defender must decide which audiences to address and develop image repair messages with this in mind. One must select one or more image repair strategies that the defender believes will be most effective with the target audience(s) and embed that strategy in one or more messages. Note that a defender should choose the most effective strategy or strategies; adding in more strategies does not necessary improve the defense. The defender must decide which medium or media should be used to get the message(s) to audience(s).

Image repair theory was developed to help understand threats to reputation, face, or image. Such threats are commonplace in human interaction, including contexts such as interpersonal communication, public communication, and social media.


  • Political Communication

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription