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Can social media messages affect change in large organizations?

Newhouse Impact: Showcasing the research and creative activity of faculty and students of the Newhouse School.

The disappearance of a female soldier at a Texas Army base in 2020 was met by silence and opaqueness from military officials. But when family social media posts were amplified by a celebrity and Latina advocacy group, it might have been the necessary pressure for change.

Former Army soldier and public affairs specialist Michelle Johnson researched this as a case study into whether a groundswell of social media attention could result in organizational change, even in such a large, inflexible entity as the US military. She's now a Ph.D. student of Mass Communications in Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communicaitons.

Johnson found the tragic case of Vanessa Guillen — whose body was eventually found murdered — showed that enough social media attention could engage change agents. She further discovered the case, which touched on women's issues and sexual assault in the military, spurred updated laws and policies, with ramifications for women's enlistments and public affairs practices.

Listen to hear more about Vanessa Guillen's case, the #IAmVanessa Guillen movement, and what can be learned about public relations messaging from response to this tragedy.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.