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Title:Public relations, preparedness, and the transportation disadvantaged in a post-disaster environment
Author(s):Kulemeka, Owen D.
Director of Research:Berry, William E.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Berry, William E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Nelson, Michelle R.; Alston, Reginald J.; Kim, Jeong-Nam
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):public relations
Hurricane Katrina
transportation disadvantaged
disaster preparedness
Abstract:This dissertation examines the effectiveness of a public relations campaign that, during the 2010 hurricane season, sought to enhance disaster preparedness among two transportation disadvantaged groups in New Orleans: vehicle-less individuals who rely on public transit and individuals with mobility impairments who rely on paratransit. I assessed the effectiveness of the campaign in two ways. First, drawing from the ideas in the Protective Action Decision Model, I interviewed the transportation disadvantaged in New Orleans to determine whether they were receiving the message of the campaign, paying attention to it, and comprehending it. I also interviewed them to learn if they were engaging in risk identification (recognizing that a disaster threat exists), risk assessment (recognizing that the threat can affect them personally), protective action search (searching for ways to address the threat), protective action assessment (comparing a way to address a threat with other methods), and protective action implementation (taking steps to actually prepare for a disaster). A second way I assessed the campaign was by querying, via email, officials familiar with how the campaign was being run. I asked these officials questions aimed at finding out whether the campaign was being conducted in a way that matched the Excellence Theory of Public Relations’ recommendations on how campaigns should be organized at the program, department, and organizational levels. I also reviewed websites and research reports to learn more about the campaign. The dissertation’s major findings were as follows. The majority of the transportation disadvantaged in New Orleans were receiving, paying attention to, and comprehending the message of the campaign. However, receiving, paying attention to, and comprehending were not shown to automatically translate into high levels of risk identification, risk assessment, protective action search, protective action assessment, and protective action implementation among the participants. Whether people had experienced a disaster in the past was not found to be a useful predictor of whether people engaged in risk identification, risk assessment, protective action search, protection action assessment, or protective action implementation. In regards to public relations excellence, the campaign was found to exhibit excellence at the program and department levels. At the program level, pre- and post-campaign research was found to be a core part of the campaign. At the departmental level, the campaign was found to possess several characteristics of excellence including staff working in an integrated unit and campaign managers being able report directly to senior executives in the city of New Orleans. At the organizational level, however, the campaign was found to be within an organization that lacked excellence. Although structurally, the city government was organized in a manner to promote excellence, obstacles were found that made excellent public relations difficult. The findings regarding excellence should be treated with caution because participation by leaders familiar with the campaign was limited.
Issue Date:2012-02-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Owen D. Kulemeka
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-02-06
Date Deposited:2011-12

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