Rumors and Rumor Control: A Manager's Guide to Understanding and Combatting Rumors

Rumors and Rumor Control: A Manager's Guide to Understanding and Combatting Rumors

Rumors and Rumor Control: A Manager's Guide to Understanding and Combatting Rumors

Rumors and Rumor Control: A Manager's Guide to Understanding and Combatting Rumors

Synopsis

This book offers a thorough examination of rumors and proposes strategies for organizations to use in combatting rumors that occur both internally and externally. Author Allan J. Kimmel explores the rumor phenomenon and distinguishes it as a distinct form of communication. He looks at psychological and social processes underlying rumor transmission to understand the circumstances under which people invent and circulate rumors. In addition, he examines how rumors are spread--both interpersonally and through mediated processes--and offers strategies for organizations to respond to rumors when they surface and methods for preventing their occurrence. Numerous examples are provided of actual rumor cases for which managers either successfully or unsuccessfully coped, including such companies as Procter & Gamble, McDonald's, Snapple, Pepsi-Cola, and Gerber.Intended to serve as a comprehensive compendium of strategies, this book was written with two objectives in mind. The first is to shed light on the often perplexing phenomenon of rumor by integrating disparate approaches from the behavioral sciences, marketing, and communication fields. The second is to offer a blueprint for going about the formidable tasks of attempting to prevent and neutralize rumors in business contexts. With these dual goals in mind--one theoretical, the other applied--this book will be of equal interest to both academics and managers in a wide range of professional contexts. In addition, it will guide organizational and marketing managers in their efforts to combat the potentially destructive consequences of rumors.

Excerpt

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.

—Siddhartha Gomo or Buddha

In this new millennium, the expression information age has been used so frequently to describe the modern era that to cite it here may be seen as belaboring the obvious. Yet, what better terminology to characterize an era in which newly emergent technologies allow us to communicate with one another with far greater facility than at any other time in history? Unlike previous periods, we are now as likely to exchange information with total strangers as with people we know. The information available to each of us at any particular time has also expanded exponentially over the years. As Richard Saul Wurman (1989) pointedly observed in his book Information Anxiety, “a weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England” (p. 32). This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the business world. If you were to look at a Reuter's financial market screen for 10 minutes, you would see 10 times the information you would ever need.

In this context, with any desired bit of information instantaneously available with a click of a computer mouse, we might expect that rumors, which traditionally have flourished during periods of news blackouts and information famines, would be a thing of the past. Ironically, the opposite seems to be the case. In contemporary society, rumors circulate like the air we breathe; more and more, they seem to arise not from a lack of information, but within a context of information overload. This apparent contradiction can be traced in large part to the public's seemingly insatiable need to know. As demands for greater access to news and instantaneous communication continue to grow, the reliability of any one piece of information has become that much more difficult to assess. Indeed, the veracity of much publicly circulating information has become progressively more suspect as the capacity . . .

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