Kara Alaimo, PhD, is assistant professor in the Department of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations. She is a specialist in international and political/advocacy communication.
She is a frequent media commentator and columnist; her op-eds have been published by media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, CNN, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, Fortune, Columbia Journalism Review, Newsday, and The Hill.
From 2012-2013, Dr. Alaimo was head of communications for the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, a group of heads of state and other eminent thinkers convened to recommend the world’s next plan for eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.
In 2011, she was appointed by President Obama as spokesperson for International Affairs in the U.S. Treasury Department, where she communicated global economic diplomacy initiatives, including America’s bilateral economic relationships; engagement in multilateral institutions including the G-20, World Bank, and IMF; and international monetary, trade, development, environmental, and energy policy. In this capacity, she also served as media adviser to Jim Yong Kim during his successful 2012 campaign for the World Bank Presidency. Dr. Alaimo also previously served as the first press secretary of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, global media coordinator for the United Nations Millennium Campaign, and as a spokesperson for New York City economic development initiatives during the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Dr. Alaimo also serves as an independent communications consultant and is a member of the board of the World Communication Forum in Davos, and was honored as its 2017 Titan of the Future. She was recently a visiting scholar at the Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. and a resident fellow at IAU College in Aix-en-Provence, France.
Her book, "Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street: How to Practice Global Public Relations and Strategic Communication," was published by Routledge in 2016. Her research on international and political/advocacy public relations has also been published in academic journals including the International Journal of Communication, Journal of Communication Management, Journal of Public Affairs, Case Studies in Strategic Communication, and Social Media & Society.
Industry Expertise (4)
Areas of Expertise (9)
2017 Titan of the Future, from the World Communication Forum: (professional)
Kara Alaimo was recognized for her creativity and commitment to the communications industry and “the high business and ethical standards of true global leaders.”
City University of New York Graduate Center: Ph.D., Political Science 2014
City University of New York: M.Phil., Political Science 2013
City University of New York: M.A., Urban Affairs 2007
New York University: B.A., Journalism 2004
- Board member, World Communication Forum in Davos
Media Appearances (10)
Team USA's 'Take Charge' Women Represent a Bigger Movement, Experts Say
Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, was interviewed by NBC.com about how the success of Team USA’s female athletes — who won 12 of 23 medals in the 2018 Winter Olympics — reflects a larger social change in society that supports the empowerment of women.
“I think the wins of the women on Team USA are a perfect metaphor for how women are rapidly asserting more power in every facet of American life — from sports to politics to entertainment,” she noted.
Dick's is Showing Businesses How It's Done
Dr. Kara Alaimo, a public relations professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, writes on CNN.com about Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision to stop selling assault-style rifles and require gun buyers to be at least 21. She notes that if more CEOS followed this lead, “they’re likely to not just boost their businesses, but also finally catalyze the changes in gun laws that are so long overdue in America.”
The decision from the sports retailer follows the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, sparked a national movement for stricter gun control, and compelled about a dozen companies to cut business ties with the National Rifle Association.
Understanding Trump in Any Language
"The Trump administration’s unorthodox approach to foreign policy has world leaders baffled. Donald Trump’s unusual moves -- from his controversial early call with the president of Taiwan, to having his daughter, Ivanka, occupy his seat during a July G-20 meeting -- break with decades of diplomatic protocol. It can also be difficult to interpret his statements..."
Companies, Think Before You Tweet
"Many companies are facing a tricky decision this week: whether to continue advertising on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News amid calls to boycott the program... Whichever companies decide to join in should, of course, follow their principles, but (Public Relations 101, here) advertisers should know how far they're really prepared to go before announcing it to consumers and the world, lest they run into the PR nightmare several companies faced last week when they made a feint at pulling ads from Hannity's show. In short, a consumer -- that's you and me -- can only stick with a company or be impressed by its principled stance when we know it means it."
As Anger at O’Reilly Builds, Activists Use Social Media to Prod Advertisers
New York Times print
“Americans are now demanding that their brands articulate their values and weigh in on political issues, and I think the degree to which they are expecting that is really quite new,” said Kara Alaimo, who teaches public relations at Hofstra University and worked in communications for the United Nations, the Treasury Department in the Obama administration, and the administration of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “What social media is doing is forcing companies to make these decisions much more rapidly.”
Op-ed: What Not to Do After Your Customer is Battered
United may think it doesn’t need to worry about good consumer public relations because Americans tend to book flights on the basis of price. But plenty of travelers with expense accounts can choose to splurge on higher fares with airlines they prefer, and many more still try to pick a single airline to fly with in order to rack up their upgrades and miles in the same place.
So, what should a company do in a situation where it’s obvious they’ve screwed up royally? The answer is simple. First, apologize immediately. And second, overreact to demonstrate that what happened doesn’t reflect the company’s values and how it conducts its business. In the case of this passenger, for example, United should offer full coverage of his medical expenses and free first-class flights for life for his entire family.
Hardline Conservatives Threaten to Sink 'Trumpcare' Business Matters
BBC World Service radio
All this and more discussed with our two guests on opposite sides of the Pacific. Kara Alaimo, Assistant Professor at Hofstra University and Author of "Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street", in New York. And John Wood, founder of Room To Read, in Hong Kong...
When an Employee or Spokesperson Criticizes Your Company
Harvard Business Review online
"Last month three of Under Armour’s celebrity endorsers — Stephen Curry, Misty Copeland, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — publicly criticized the company’s CEO, Kevin Plank, for making a favorable statement about President Trump. This was an unusual PR challenge. Normally, executives worry about their endorsers behaving in ways that reflect poorly on their companies, such as getting in trouble with the law. They don’t expect to be reprimanded by the very people they’re paying to market their products."
How a Censored Version of Facebook Could Destabilize China’s Government
Washington Post online
"Facebook is said to have developed censorship software in an effort to make it politically possible to operate in China, where the government has blocked access to the social network since 2009. Yes, giving in to the demands of an undemocratic regime to obstruct free speech would set a dangerous precedent. And it could cause users in other nations to reject the platform. But if a restricted version of Facebook does launch in China, it could ultimately destabilize the Chinese Communist Party in three ways..."
How to Deal with a Foreign Colleague Who Can't Say No
New York Times online
"When I worked as a global media coordinator for the United Nations several years ago, I organized biweekly conference calls, during which I would ask my colleagues around the world to provide information by particular deadlines. My colleagues almost always responded with a resounding yes, but all too often the deadlines came and went without the requested material, leaving me bewildered and upset.
Finally, my South African boss had to explain what would never have occurred to me: In many cultures, it is rude to say no. So some people would say yes to anything I asked, regardless of whether they had any intention of delivering.
If communicating internally at the United Nations was challenging, interacting with the outside world was even harder..."
Sample Talks (2)
Public Relations Society of America, 2016
Going Global: Adapting PR Strategies for Different Countries and Cultures
World Communication Forum, 2016
This study suggests that, since the year 2000, governments have been making greater claims and efforts to enforce women’s human rights. However, their motivations appear to be to improve their reputations in the international community rather than to protect women. The findings indicate that states are submitting reports to the United Nations on their progress eliminating discrimination against women on a timelier basis...
The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether political appointees or civil servants are more effective spokespeople for the President of the United States of America (US).
Every modern president of the United States has been bedeviled by unauthorized leaks of government information to the press. Who is responsible for such leaks? Presidents of the United States have accused civil servants of attempting to undermine them...
July-December 2015: 1–10
"This study analyzes how the owner of the Facebook Arabic page “We Are All Khaled Said” both catalyzed and took advantage of opportunities in the Egyptian political climate in order to help promote the country’s 2011 revolution.
Using a content analysis of posts on the Facebook page before and throughout the Egyptian revolution, the case study finds that the owner of the page, Wael Ghonim, served as a long-term trainer or coach, educating his online followers about the abuses of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime and helping them gradually become more comfortable with political activism, so that when a triggering event—the Tunisian revolution—occurred, he was able to move his followers into the streets to protest..."
2015, Volume 4
A decade ago, the Chinese barely purchased French wines. Today, China is the world’s largest market for the wines of Bordeaux. This case study investigates the public relations strategies of the “first growths” of Bordeaux, France—the elite group of wineries officially classified as the region’s best—that have fueled this remarkable growth. The study finds that the first growths have largely ignored mass communication tactics such as media outreach and advertising in China, and instead promote their wines through face-to-face exchanges with the Chinese elite..."