How Corporate America Grieves: Responses to September 11 in Public Relations Advertising

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This study examines newspaper ads published in response to the events of September 11th, 2001, to determine the nature of corporate message appeals and the extent to which these messages may be exploiting tragedy rather than serving as legitimate expressions of sympathy or support. The study finds that two-thirds of ads were rated positively; these ads most frequently expressed compassion for victims and made patriotic appeals. Ads perceived as exploiting tragedy were more likely to encourage readers to resume their shopping habits and to use fewer and less emotion-laden patriotic appeals.