Yan Jin, Shelley Spector, Bryan Reber, Lucinda L. Austin, LaShonda Eaddy (Grady Ph.D. candidate), Camila Espina (Grady Ph.D. student), Miquel Morales, and Rosanna Plasencia. “Treading Troubled Water: Lessons from Public Relations Practice in the Great Depression.” Accepted for presentation at the Corporate Communication International (CCI) 2017 International Conference, June 6-9, 2017, New York City, NY.
Abstract: Institutional knowledge and collective learning are invaluable resources for the corporate communications profession. How corporations and government agencies have historically communicated with publics provides historical parameters for developing public communication competencies and ethical standards. Through the lens of organizational learning and historical analogy, this study examines public relations in the era of the Great Depression, as a historical, economic crisis. Grounded in the Cultural Economic Model, the cultural processes in business, public relations, and government during the Great Depression are explored through archival data retrieved from the Museum of Public Relations, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. Themes from the archival research suggest how organizational learning via historical analogy can inform ethical and effective crisis communication practice and equip today’s public relations practitioners with resources for crisis preparedness in the future. Artifacts examined will be available for viewing during the presentation.