Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type



School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Director of Thesis

Randy Covington

Second Reader

Dr. Holly Overton


During April 2017, Pepsi launched its tone-deaf Kendall Jenner commercial, United Airlines dragged a passenger off of Flight 3411 and the public responded to both incidents with “online firestorm[s]” (Pfeffer, Zorbach, & Carley, 2014). The purpose of this thesis was to use the aforementioned events of April 2017 as a case study for how crisis communication practices impact brand reputation. While there is an abundance of literature written on what the best communication practices are in crisis situations, there is little that depicts the direct, real-life ramifications that these practices have in regard to brand reputation specifically. This thesis aimed to contribute to the filling of the void. Social media data, as gathered through Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight software, was relied on heavily in measuring public sentiment regarding the brands in questions. Lessons and application for future crisis communication practices are discussed.

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