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    If military organizations want to enhance their credibility with their surrounding community, they must do a better job or reporting and disclosing bad news events. They must learn to turn those bad news stories into good news by getting the information out at the earliest opportunity. Military leaders must take the opportunity to learn from the many case studies and theories suggested in this paper to improve upon their organizationsí credibility. While there are numerous examples to support the need to get the information out to the public in a timely manner, many organizations remain affixed to the practices of the past. Organizations are encouraged to use this study and attached survey as a tool to foster better relations within their communities.

    While the theories and ideas discussed within this project are relatively new as they pertain to non-crisis situations, there is still much to be learned in this area. The authors of this study hope that ideas discussed and research conducted in this area will inspire others to continue the search for solutions to building credibility through reporting bad news. There are many avenues of continued research in this area. Future research could examine the role of the media in disclosing non-crisis bad news to the public. Another aspect of future research could examine the role of media richness theory and and preferred channels for delivering both good and bad news to the public. Finally, future research in this area could also more specifically define the levels of bad news and the affect each has on the credibility of the source.


    If public relations and public affairs are to evolve to the new symmetrical model, choices in communication strategies might need to evolve also. Ubiquitous in prevalent communication strategy is emphasizing "good news" over "bad news." Indeed, in managing good and bad news, the selection of which to release usually strains considerations of credibility and candor (Higgins, 1996). More often than not bad news is shelved, not released, for fear of scrutiny and criticism. Yet, as discussed scrutiny is part of building a relationship. Further, release of bad news is a proven communications strategy in crisis environments (Young, 1996). Rules of the road in a crisis are to get out front on bad news, and to be consistent in revealing both good and bad news (e.g., Blackwell, 1988; Dougherty, 1992; Marconi, 1992). How much more so in the routine handling of bad news.

    Bottom line: by disclosing routine bad news a military installation may be surprised at the positive reaction towards its credibility by the community. This, in turn, will lead to a strengthening of the relationship.

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Updated: July 22, 1998