In my public relations capstone class, we have been studying past examples of PR crises in order to identify and learn best practices. One specific case we studied was when NFL quarterback Michael Vick was convicted of dog fighting and how he integrated himself back into society after his release. When my teacher first assigned this, all I could think about was that the assignment was yet another piece of homework to complete and promptly forget. I thought that I already knew enough about this case, and there would be nothing new for me to learn. Boy was I wrong.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is the famous quote from Spanish-born philosopher George Santayana. I first heard this quote way back in the 7th grade – my history teacher made us memorize a famous quote every week. This one always always stuck out to me, because whilst studying world history, it seemed as though we, as the human race, are constantly repeating the mistakes of the past. Even the 7th grade version of myself could see that, and he wondered why world leaders couldn’t. Fast forward to today, and college senior version of myself applies this idea to public relations.
Learning about old examples of anything, in any industry, is the way to make sure you don’t repeat the mistakes that your predecessors hopefully learned from. There is always something new to be learned, especially in public relations. By studying past cases of a crisis, we can decide what the best response is, based on what worked in the past. So to everyone grumbling about seemingly irrelevant homework – don’t worry! It will help you in the future.
What do you think about studying the past, can it help us in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments!