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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Heather Hether

First Committee Member

Qingwen Dong

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray


Twitter has become a foremost public relations tool due to its capacity to facilitate two-way communication; however research suggests few organizations are using it effectively to engage in conversation with their customers (Rybalko & Seltzer, 2010; Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011; Lovejoy, Waters, & Saxon, 2012; Waters & Jamal, 2011). Using Grunig and Hunt's (1984) models of public relations and uses and gratifications theory (Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1974) as the guiding framework, this study examines how teams in the National Hockey League (NHL) communicate with fans on Twitter. The study used a content analysis and coded 815 team tweets into one of five content themes based on the fan gratification being met. Findings revealed that teams are most likely to meet fans' information needs and use models of press agentry and public information, despite the opportunity for conversation and relationship building Twitter provides. The results indicate there is a lack of two-way conversation being facilitated by NHL teams to build relationships with fans. The results of this study will inform sports teams, as well as other organizations, on current and future communication strategies on social media.





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