Dr. LaShonda L. Eaddy’s job description, “assistant professor of public relations and strategic communication,” is all too humble. She is an expert in crisis communication, a specialty evolved from her passion for public relations.
Dr. Eaddy, Ph.D., APR (accreditation in public relations), joined the SMU faculty this fall, continuing the transition from corporate communications, primarily in the healthcare industry. She is accredited in public relations and spent time as a practitioner before making the transition to a professor. Dr. Eaddy’s initial interest in crisis communication began during a 6-month advanced internship in the public affairs department at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“Everything I’m doing now and everything I have done in the past since undergrad is because I have had a passion for public relations,” she said.
Dr. Eaddy’s Research
In addition to teaching, Dr. Eaddy conducts research on crisis history and its impact on the public’s perception of an organization, their likelihood to attribute responsibility to the organization, and their emotions regarding a current crisis. Her interest on this specific research dates to grad school at the University of Central Florida and her thesis — examining the impact of Johnson & Johnson’s series of recalls on news reports. She delved deeper into the specialized field as she continued at the University of Georgia and earned a Ph.D. in Mass Communication.
Dr. Eaddy is among 25 SMU faculty members to be awarded Sam Taylor Fellowship funding to support research projects. These are provided by the Sam Taylor Fellowship Fund of the Division of Higher Education, through the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Dr. Eaddy is also a part of a team that was awarded a grant from the Arthur W. Page Center to study public relations during the Great Depression compared to the Great Recession of 2008 and examine ethical and other implications.
Dr. Eaddy’s research is an important part of what she defines as her contribution to the field of public relations. The self-proclaimed “practitioner scholar” understands the integral roles that public relations professionals and scholars play in the development, understanding, and growth of the profession.
“I want everything that I’m doing in the classroom and my research to ultimately help public relations practice and move it forward,” she said. “Whether that means helping students, who are future practitioners, be prepared when they graduate, or whether that’s me offering research results to inform practitioners’ communication strategy; my goal is to advance the profession.”
After her years of experience in the field, researching the subject, and teaching it to students, Dr. Eaddy summarized crisis communication in three words; proactive, strategic, and multi-faceted.
How to Learn from Dr. Eaddy
She continues to conduct research and develop theory while teaching at SMU. CCPA students wishing to learn from Dr. Eaddy can take CCPA 3355, Principles of Public Relations. Declared Public Relations and Strategic Communication Majors can take CCPA 3310, Crisis Management.