Toronto Metropolitan University
Owczar_Katherine.pdf (2.38 MB)

Hacking a reputation: crisis communication and the Ashley Madison data breach

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posted on 2021-06-11, 18:28 authored by Katherine Owczar
[Para. 1] At a time where online activists are targeting and obtaining the intellectual property of companies on a regular basis, how should a company communicate and mitigate the data breach to ensure that its valued customers feel protected, or in the best case scenario, prevent it altogether? The adoption and implementation of a sound crisis communication and management strategy is thus a fundamental operative for the success of any organization. Organizational crises can fundamentally disrupt and harm companies, organizations and individuals alike; they are characterized as “non-routine, severe event[s] that [can] destroy [its] reputation or operations” (Koerber, 2017). When a crisis arises for an organization, it is imperative that they have a strong sense of clarity regarding the issue at hand – specifically, they must understand the context and “background narrative that gives interpretative shape to [its] foreground issues” (Arnett, Deiuliis, Corr, 2017). Perhaps most emblematic of these background narratives is the circulation of competing information and perspectives, by both social media and traditional news sources. With the rise of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, a new sense of power and inflated ability to frame an issue has been afforded to many publics – particularly due to the ability of these mediums to rapidly transmit and receive information. These affordances have the potential to be either beneficial or detrimental to a company when faced with a crisis. While an organization can benefit from strategic media relations and effective crisis communication, even the most established of firms can have their voice become convoluted or be reprimanded if communication is poorly executed.





  • Master of Professional Communication


  • Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

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    Professional Communication (Theses)


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