Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Derina Holtzhausen, D. Lit. et Phil

Committee Member

Kenneth C. Killebrew, Jr., Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kelly Page Werder, Ph.D.


Public Relations, Corporate Image, Corporate Apologia, Message Strategies, Crisis Communication


Adverse relationships between an individual or corporation and its publics can destroy credibility, relationships, marketability, and economic welfare. As such, a genre of discourse is needed to help individuals and organizations respond to charges of wrongdoing. Therefore, the study of image restoration is worthwhile because it provides insight into an important function of our lives. For this thesis study, a content analysis was conducted of media releases and stories produced by the U.S. Air Force regarding a series of sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy in 2002. The purpose of the study is two-fold. First, it determines the image restoration strategies employed by the U.S. Air Force during a crisis situation. Its second -- and primary -- objective is to advance (or reinforce) current image restoration theory by determining whether specific image restoration tactics encourage a positive or negative reporting trend from independent newspapers, and measuring the effectiveness of tactics comprising Benoit's Image Restoration Theory as applied in this particular situation by the U.S. Air Force. Combined, these analyses will demonstrate that Benoit's Image Restoration Theory can be prescriptive rather than simply descriptive (as noted in the review of literature) with the ultimate intent of the study being a determination of how independent media reacts to the image restoration tactics employed by the U.S. Air Force.