Dr. Erica Taylor Southerland is an assistant professor in the Department of Strategic, Legal and Management Communications. She is a member of the Faculty Senate and she serves as the academician on the Office of University Communications Crisis Planning Team. Dr. Southerland has taught collegiate level communications courses for the past 10 years and she has worked professionally as a public relations practitioner in a variety of industries including higher education, non-profit and healthcare. Her specialties are public relations writing and crisis communication. Dr. Southerland’s primary research interests include crisis communication, political public relations and communicating unique issues in African American public affairs. She is also interested in developing social media theory and best practices using social media in strategic communication. Dr. Southerland is a contributing author of the PRSA Foundation 2015 PR Diversity Study. This nationwide study and ongoing subsequent study examines the current state of African-American and Hispanic diversity in the public relations industry with a focus on new public relations professionals.
Dr. Southerland is a dedicated member of several professional and community organizations including the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the National Press Club and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is a charter member of the Metropolitan Washington, DC Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Dr. Southerland also serves as public relations manager for the National Urban League Young Professionals where she is responsible for national public relations planning, strategy, tactics and sponsorship communications. She earned a bachelor’s in public relations from Hampton University where she is also a graduate of the Dr. Freddye T. Davy Honors College. Dr. Southerland earned a master’s in English with a concentration in professional writing from Old Dominion University and the Ph.D. in media and public affairs from Louisiana State University. Her dissertation, titled HBCU Crises and the Discourse of Renewal: A Crisis Communication Case Study of Three Institutions presents a best practices model for crisis communication at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).