From History to Marketing!
When I was growing up (I know, I know, I’m 24 and still a child), I was fascinated by history. My eldest sister brought me the complete Horrible Science box-set, and not even that was enough to stop me from reading the Horrible Histories at my school library. The real fascination began in primary school, when I was given the honour of playing Tutankhamun in our school play. Spoiler: I died.
I was always encouraged to follow my passions by both my parents and my siblings. I grew up rather shy – I had a couple of close friends and was (and perhaps still am) a mummy’s boy. So, I threw myself into books. I spent a lot of my time reading during ‘golden time’, a period of an hour each week in primary school where you could do whatever you wanted, and in the local library.
Little did I know that each hour I spent in the library, I was laying the foundations that would serve me for the rest of my life.
Throughout secondary school, I flirted with a lot of subjects but never cheated on history. I took an interest in science, toyed with information computer technology, and even enjoyed design technology. Still, I grew fonder of history with each passing year, and from GCSE onwards, my curiosity became insatiable. During my GCSE years, I loved learning about the Blitz, the life of Elvis, and especially Medicine Through Time. In the latter, I finally got to grips with ancient and medieval history – something that would make later choices clearer.
At college, I jumped at the chance to study history, so I took it alongside religious and business studies. Now I’d like to take a moment here to make a confession: in another life, I would have continued with religious studies and explored philosophy/theology at length. It amazes me that similarities and differences between religious beliefs and different practices exist – and while religion may be somewhat lacking in my own life, I am fascinated by the world around me. Perhaps it was my teacher, Mr Leonard, with his captivating personality and a refreshing amount of care for his students, who inspired me most. He will always remain as one of the most influential teachers I have ever had.
Nevertheless, history, not religious studies, would be the foundation of my academic career. I was introduced to the crusades. This was it! The crusades were my calling point in history. This was the moment that I knew that history was for me. So I followed my calling – to university, and beyond!
I came to a much deeper understanding of myself during the year I took off after graduation, before the start of my master’s. I discovered that I loved talking to people, especially those who had a slight interest in history, but who never studied history formally. It was those people who would propel me towards a job in marketing.
So, during my MA I’ve done a lot to get to grips with marketing and its role in publishing. I’ve learnt a lot about how people perceive history and why. People want to connect with it. I found that the most common response to ‘what stops you from learning more about history?’ was, ‘it doesn’t relate to me.’ Upon reflection, I realised that challenge of connecting people with history is twofold: firstly, how do we curate relatable history to every individual; and secondly, how do we convince individuals that the history we uncover is relatable to them?
It is our duty, as historians (casual or otherwise), to pass on our knowledge. What is the use of uncovering new truths, if they only serve a select few? Historians always talk about lessons in history, but seldom have the chance to impact the course of history directly. I have chosen marketing because I want to build a platform for historians; I want to explore avenues where I can get to grips with what the public wants, and then to serve them history, creatively, and the way they want it. History deserves a larger platform than it currently has; it deserves to become part of our daily lives. The million dollar (pound!) question is: how do we connect history to the public?