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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Public Relations

First Advisor

Carol Hackley

First Committee Member

Qingwen Dong

Second Committee Member

Jon Schamber


This thesis examines the public affairs crisis faced by the American Red Cross after the September 11 terrorist attacks. It begins with an introduction of the organization, and continues with a discussion of the crisis that developed over what the organization might do with money donated after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Eight themes emerged from this case study: similarities and differences between non-profit and corporate public relations; objectives in crisis communication; conflict between organizational protocol and public expectations; media sensationalism; effects of the crisis; the organization's response; the phenomenon of spinoff issues (secondary crises); and the veracity of statements concerning the organization. Four major implications exist. Non-profit organizations must communicate openly with the media in a crisis. Preparation is vital in issues management. It is important to consider prodomes (warning signs), value conflicts, and spinoff issues. Finally, organizations need to engage in proactive public relations.




9780496117833 , 0496117831

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