Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kelly Page Werder, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Liu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Randy Miller, Ph.D.


national weather service, local government, public relations process model, situation theory of publics, emergency communication


In September 2008, the National Weather Service (NWS) predicted that Hurricane Ike would make landfall on Galveston Island as a strong category three storm. This led the NWS to release a statement of 'certain death' if people did not adhere to the emergency evacuation messages. Millions of people fled the Texas coast. Using Hazleton and Long's (1993) taxonomy of public relations strategies, experimental methods were conducted with various evacuation messages to test emergency communication. Grunig's (1997) situational theory of publics was used to determine strategy influence. Problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement were tested. In addition, tests were conducted to measure source expertise, trust, and attitude depending on the message source.

Results indicated that a national message source produced higher constraint recognition than a local message source. The national message source produced higher expertise, trust, and attitude then a local message source. The threat and punishment strategy produced the highest level of information-seeking behavior. Information-seeking behavior was the lowest when a persuasive strategy was used. Constraint recognition produced the weakest effect on information-seeking behavior. In conclusion, emergency management communicators must use the correct message strategy to have an effect on information-seeking behavior.