Date Approved

8-1-2000

Embargo Period

7-13-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations

Department

Public Relations & Advertising

College

College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

Sparks-FitzGerald, Suzanne

Subject(s)

Corporations--Public relations; Crisis management

Disciplines

Public Relations and Advertising

Abstract

This purpose of this thesis was to study how CEO behavior during a crisis impacts the organization's lasting reputation.

A thorough review of relevant publications, as well as intercept surveys, content analyses and email surveys, was conducted to test the hypotheses.

Fifty intercept surveys were conducted over two weekends to discover opinions about the issue. Respondents appearing to be age 25 or older were randomly selected. A content analysis was conducted using articles from Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal to determine the media's tone on the CEOs of Odwalla, Jack in the Box, Dow Coming and Exxon. A total of ten articles, five from each publication, were coded for each company. An email survey was sent to Fortune 100 companies to ascertain whether or not they had crisis communication plans. Of 100, 26 companies responded.

It was concluded that: 1) the most successful American companies have crisis communication plans; 2) the CEO must receive positive media coverage during a crisis and 3) the public does not associate crises with company reputation over time.

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