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)
Public Relations and Communications
Writing and Editing
Areas of Expertise (9)
Global Public Relations
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 (26)
Amazon Quietly Tweaks Logo Some Say Resembled Hitler’s Mustache
The New York Times print
Kara S. Alaimo, a professor of public relations at Hofstra University, said that in an era of social media outrage and trolling, “branding experts should be bending over backward to consider all the ways people could misuse or misinterpret their logos prior to launch.”
Aunt Jemima brand gets a new name: Pearl Milling Company
News 12 Long Island tv
Kara Alaimo, PhD, an expert on branding and public relations at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, was interviewed by News 12 Long Island about Quaker Oats’ decision to rename Aunt Jemima pancake products as Pearl Milling Company, beginning in June 2021. The Aunt Jemima brand has long been linked to racial stereotypes and Southern slavery over its 130-year history, and was retired last year in the wake of civil unrest.
Twitter can't undo Trump's damage now
In her latest column for CNN.com, Kara Alaimo, PhD, public relations professor at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, says that social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook bear some responsibility for the attack on the US Capitol by allowing untruths about the 2020 election to go unchecked. Dr. Alaimo argues that the decision by some platforms to suspend the president’s accounts comes “too late.”
Mothers Hit Hard by the Pandemic
NBC 4 NY tv
Kara Alaimo, PhD, public relations professor at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, was interviewed by NBC 4 NY for a feature examining the challenges working mothers have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, including having to leave the workforce.
Attack on Jill Biden's 'Dr.' title is no surprise for women scholars -- and proof that she needs to use it
In her latest column for CNN.com, Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, responds to a controversial Wall Street Journal op-ed that argued that Jill Biden, who has a doctorate in education (Ed.D.), should not use her “Dr.” title because she is not a medical doctor. Dr. Alaimo says this is just one of the ways that the expertise of women is minimized.
Social media giants crack down on Election Day misinformation
Fox 5 NY tv
Kara Alaimo, associate professor of public relations at Hofstra University says Twitter and Facebook’s move to censor content comes after the 2016 election when she says their platforms were used to manipulate voters. “I think they don’t want to be left with the perception that their inactions or their platform somehow contributed to violence or a disputed election,” said Alaimo.
AOC's brilliant defense of women who seek power
In an op-ed for CNN.com, Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, discusses Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s response to Rep. Ted Yoho’s aggressive and misogynistic attack against her on the steps of the Capitol.
How Businesses Can Navigate the Minefield of Social Unrest
Bloomberg Opinion online
In her latest Bloomberg Opinion post, Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, discusses how businesses can respond to civil unrest, address employee concerns, and examine their corporate policies on diversity and inclusion. She also discusses the risks involved when a company takes a public stand on social issues.
Trump's dangerous move against Twitter
Dr. Alaimo wrote a recent column for CNN.com about the president issuing an executive order to regulate social media platforms after Twitter flagged two of his tweets as “potentially misleading.”
A Little Predictability Could Go a Long Way for Working Moms
Bloomberg Opinion online
Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, discusses simple ways that employers can attract, support and retain working moms as parenting and telecommuting present new challenges during the pandemic.
Harvey Weinstein is convicted. Now what?
On Feb. 24, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of committing a criminal sex act and rape in the third degree in his sexual assault trial, but he was acquitted of two of the more serious counts. In her column for CNN.com, Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, examines the lessons from the Weinstein case and calls for change, starting with improved laws about non-disclosure agreements and better education about rights.
Dating Apps Aren’t Protecting You Or Your Data
Bloomberg Opinion online
In an op-ed for Bloomberg News, Dr. Kara Alaimo, a professor of public relations at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, discusses how sex offenders go largely unscreened and your most personal information is being shared with advertisers.
What We Learned From 2019’s Worst PR Disasters
Bloomberg Opinion online
In her latest op-ed for Bloomberg News, Dr. Kara Alaimo, a professor of public relations at the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, compiles her list of 2019’s worst corporate-image disasters. Among them: ex-Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s week-long silence following the March crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which took 157 lives. Coming in second: Peloton’s TV ad featuring an already fit but frightened looking wife profusely thanking her husband for the gift of fitness.
Let Kevin Hart host the Oscars
In her latest op-ed for CNN.com, Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, explains why she believes Kevin Hart should host the Academy Awards show, despite homophobic comments that he tweeted a decade ago.
Want to Purge Fake News? Try Crowdsourcing
Bloomberg Opinion online
In an op-ed for Bloomberg, Kara Alaimo, PhD, a public relations professor in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, explains crowdsourcing and how it can be used to purge misinformation and “fake news” from social networks.
Melania's Careless Jacket Flap Provides An Opening
In her regular column for CNN.com, Kara Alaimo, PhD, discusses Melania Trump's decision to wear a jacket emblazoned with "I really don't care. Do U?" to visit migrant children at the border. Dr. Alaimo argues that “there is no way to get around the optics here. On its face it was a shocking moment of poor judgment that will do even more damage to America’s reputation, coming just after a wave of outrage at the US government for its practice of forcibly taking immigrant children away from their parents.”
Disney Made Quick Work of ‘Roseanne.’ It’s Not Always So Easy.
The New York Times print
“It’s the concept of the golden hour of crisis response,” said Kara Alaimo, who teaches public relations and reputation management at Hofstra University. “It’s a term borrowed from emergency medicine: Everyone knows if you get a heart attack victim to the hospital in the first hour, they’re more likely to survive.”
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.”
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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9ZYz5jfdlI
World Communication Forum, 2016
Increased Efforts by Modern States to Improve their Reputations for Enforcing Women's Human RightsInternational Journal of Communication
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 US President’s Most Effective SpokespeopleJournal of Communication Management
2016 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).
Which government officials leak unauthorized information to the press in Washington?Journal of Public Affairs
2015 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...
How the Facebook Arabic Page “We Are All Khaled Said” Helped Promote the Egyptian RevolutionSocial Media + Society
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..."
Public Relations as Personal Relationships: How Top Bordeaux Wines are Promoted in ChinaCase Studies in Strategic Communication
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..."