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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Qingwen Dong

First Committee Member

Carol Ann Hackley

Second Committee Member

R. Alan Ray


Using case study methods, four crises that were reported in the past 36 months were examined to see if university officials modified established crisis communication plans to better respond to messages and rumors on social networking. Two of the crises dealt with safety issues and two were reputational crises designed to discredit the institution. Four communication professionals were also interviewed for their opinions about social networking use during crises. The study concludes that universities should adopt a social networking aspect into crisis communication plans, including preauthorizing specific types of messages to be released during the first few minutes of a crisis without review from higher administrators. A model of this new crisis communication plan is included. Social media use is also recommended during other stages of a crisis to better inform the community of what is happening on a campus.



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