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New Online PR Master’s Degree Meets Need for Reputation and Crisis Management Skills

The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University is launching a new online Master of Arts in Public Relations that will be among the first of its kind to have a particular emphasis on reputation and crisis management. The program will prepare professionals to quickly manage new and heightened modern challenges such as brand backlash, social media crises, fake news, Twitter attacks, filter bubbles, culture wars, and how to communicate during a pandemic.

The new online program, now accepting applications for Fall 2020, can be completed in two years and is designed for experienced professionals and recent graduates working in many kinds of organizations including corporations, non-profits, and government. 

“Research shows that the majority of a company’s stock price is determined by its reputation, but these days, reputations are lost in mere minutes on social media,” said Associate Professor of Public Relations Kara Alaimo, PhD, the program’s director. “I teach my students that just as someone having a heart attack is more likely to survive if he or she gets to the hospital in the first hour, organizations must mount appropriate responses to crises on social media within the first hour of incidents in order to protect their reputations. Being prepared to do this takes real practice and training in the science behind reputation and crisis management.”

The author of Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street, Dr. Alaimo is an award-winning communications specialist who has worked in the Obama administration and for the United Nations, among other positions. Other faculty in the program include highly regarded scholars and practitioners who are thought leaders in their fields. 

The 36-credit online program features courses that reflect the emerging need for this type of expertise, such as  a class called “New Reputation Threats in the Fake News Era,” in which students will learn whether and when it makes sense for organizations to weigh in on public debates, and how to respond to attacks by politicians, activists, employees, endorsers, and fake news sites in a partisan climate. They will also participate in a major crisis simulation in which they will react in real time to a reputational challenge and adjust their strategy based on the responses of others.

“At almost any given time, a remarkable number of major organizations are in the news for reputation problems that have been largely self-inflicted because public relations practitioners did not follow basic principles of crisis management,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, dean of the Herbert School of Communication. “It’s clear that there is a real need in the industry for specialized training, and we have responded with a program that is the first of its kind with an emphasis on teaching professionals what research has proven about the most effective ways to prevent and respond to crises and protect an organization’s long-term reputation.”

Hofstra already offers an on-campus PR graduate program, which can be completed in four semesters at night, full- or part-time. The on-campus program has an optional concentration in marketing. 

Students in both programs take a range of classes to prepare to manage all aspects of public relations including media relations, social media, event planning, influencer engagement, corporate social responsibility, and other communication and relationship management strategies.

For more information about the new online program with an emphasis on reputation and crisis management, visit or contact Professor Kara Alaimo at Students interested in more information about the weeknight Master of Arts in Public Relations should contact Professor Ivan Cardona at

To apply, visit

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