Hailey CowanFollow


Public Relations

Second Major

Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design


Bell, Regina

Advisor Department

Public Relations




Crisis management is one of the most important aspects of public relations. When a company experiences problems with their products, when a natural disaster occurs or when an advertisement offends the public, a company’s public relations department or representative public relations agency must constantly communicate breaking and relevant information to consumers, employees and the general public.

The role of real time communication has long been an important characteristic to the success of a campaign following a crisis. The introduction of important social media outlets in recent years has added to the significance of real time communication. Digital and social media has had a tremendous impact on how companies or brands communicate with their stakeholders. While social media brings about an opportunity for companies to directly and immediately interact with their stakeholders, it also poses complications with timing and content control.

As a public relations student, I have deep interest in public relations campaigns and methods but wanted to research specifically about crisis management campaigns and their impact on companies and public perceptions. My goal for this project was to analyze the aftermath of multiple crises that have occurred in recent years. Crises I have chosen to further analyze include: the BP Oil Spill; Target Data Breach and the backlash caused by the “Motrin Moms” Advertisement among others. By examining how the damage of each crisis was handled through a real-time crisis management plan and its long-term effects on reputation and sales, an analysis can be formulated by looking at patterns and determining the requirements of a successful campaign. Key case study reviews and interviews with public relations professionals who have experience handling crises have helped to shape my understanding of the impact of real time communication, specifically social media, on the strategic success or failure of a public relations campaign in covering a crisis.