Larkspur, Calif. – Corinne Zilnicki, a recent graduate from the master’s program at San Diego State University, will receive the 2021 Orangefiery Best Master’s Thesis Award from the Institute for Public Relations. Her study, “Lying Through One’s Tweets: How False Rumors Deter Public Compliance During Crises” investigates how misinformation (false rumors) can affect individuals’ processing of information, attitudes toward compliance, and intentions to comply with governmental guidance during a crisis.

The Orangefiery Best Master’s Thesis of the Year Award by the Institute for Public Relations recognizes and encourages graduate study and scholarship in public relations. Submissions for the award are judged by a blind panel of Institute for Public Relations Trustees. The award winner receives a $2,000 grant and the winner’s faculty advisor receives a $1,000 cash grant.

“Corinne’s research into the ways that emergency messages are delivered by officials and interpreted by the public provides new and important layers of public relations theory to the academic canon while also delivering innovative insights that are eminently relevant in the field,” said Arthur D. Santana, Ph.D., her faculty advisor and Associate Professor at San Diego State University. “This is the kind of impactful research that is critical to both academic researchers and first responders, perhaps now more than ever.”

ZIlnicki graduated from the San Diego State University Journalism and Media Studies master’s program in 2021. Her research was inspired by Hurricane Harvey, a natural disaster during which false narratives and misleading rumors propagated on social media. Zilnicki is an active-duty member of the United States Coast Guard and serves as a public affairs specialist.

“We’re seeing the powerful and negative impact disinformation and misinformation can have on society,” said Mike Kuczkowski, Founder and CEO of Orangefiery, the sponsor of the annual award. “Corinne’s study goes deep on this topic and in the process illustrates the complexity of navigating misinformation in a crisis. It’s an important study both for communicators and social media platforms and we’re thrilled to see it win.”


About the Institute for Public Relations
The Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit research foundation dedicated to fostering greater use of research and research-based knowledge in corporate communication and the public relations practice. IPR is dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. IPR provides timely insights and applied intelligence that professionals can put to immediate use. All research, including a weekly research letter, is available for free at

About Orangefiery
Orangefiery is a strategy and communications consulting firm that combines the insights and decision-making tools of strategy consulting with the real-world orientation and agility of a public relations agency to help our clients create impact in the world. Founded in 2014, Orangefiery provides research and strategy work done through a communications and stakeholder engagement lens. The firm, with offices in New York City and the Bay Area, has expertise in research and insights, planning, facilitation, public relations, stakeholder engagement and systems design.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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