Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Intersection of History and PR

Michael Pollan spoke to the American Historical Association recently, specifically to admonish the "professional historians" for ceding the public marketplace of ideas to persons like himself from other fields.  He urged more context and more broad use of storytelling technique.  He also hit right down my favorite "We're History" program theme:

"We live in this fog of presentness. Every politician would have us forget what they said yesterday."

Or coach.  Or athletic administrator.

Readers groan.  What's the point of the academic exercise?

First and foremost, with all the detail available -- from online sources, social media, big data waiting for someone's FOIA -- it is absurd to continue operating as if no one will notice when the story changes.

Second and most instructive, one of Pollan's solutions:

"At a time where the information available to us is so rich and so chaotic, those who can provide the satisfactions of passing it all through that narrow aperture of a story are more prized than ever."

To the curators, the sorters, the presenters of larger narratives -- to they go the long term hearts and minds of our publics.  In turn goes their trust.

Thus, go with care when following the Adam Savage School and remember, if you have been upfront with your own narratives, you will have the chance to be the trusted source over others outside your group, even though you represent the vested interest of the organization itself.

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