Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


Communication and Media

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Christine A. Lemesianou

Committee Member

Todd Kelshaw

Committee Member

Philip Bakelaar


Social media channels operate in real-time and on a global scale. Yet many organizations remain unskilled and/or unprepared in digital communication usage, which exposes the organization and its brand to grave and long-term consequences. Through an in-depth literature review, this thesis explores theoretical research on both organizational crisis management and the practice of international public relations. It also reviews several organizational crisis cases where social media played a critical role in either inciting or escalating a crisis issue, positioning the crisis prominently on a national or global level. Next by engaging in case study research of two internationally recognized brands, this thesis examined how these organizations applied prescribed crisis response strategies, utilized social media as a crisis communication tool, and managed the crisis issue on a global scale. Findings indicate a variance in overall crisis management, and incongruence between public relations theory and practice. The thesis concludes with best practices for implementing a global crisis communication strategy using social media, and discusses global implications for the public relations field.

File Format


Included in

Communication Commons