Ch. 2- The Evolution of Public Relations

26 Sep

Text: Public Relations Strategies and Tactics-9th Edition-Wilcox, D. & Cameron, G.

  • Public relations is as old as ancient civilizations
    • Speech writing in Plato’s time
    • King’s College (now Columbia University) issued its first news release in 1758
    • Public Relations played a role in The Boston Tea Party, called “…the greatest and best-known publicity stunt of all time..”
  • Phineas T. Barnum
    • Great American showman of the 19th century
    • Master of the pseudoevent (planned happening that occurs primarily for purpose of being reported)
    • Knew value of third-party endorsement
      • Donated proceeds to charity, so event would attract many of the town’s opinion leaders

1900 to 1950: Age of Pioneers

  • PR transformed by individuals such as Henry Ford, Ivy Lee, George Creel, Edward B. Bernays, and Arthur Page
  • Public Relations moved from press agentry to the more journalistic approach of distributing accurate public information
  • Ivy Lee
    • First public relations counselor
    • Princeton graduate and former business journalist for New York Times
    • Remembered for
      • Advancing concept that business and industry should align themselves with the public interest
      • Dealing with top executives and carrying out no program unless it had the active support of management
      • Maintaining open communication with the news media
      • Emphasizing the necessity of humanizing business and bringing it’s public relations down to the community level of employees, customers, and neighbors
  • Edward L. Bernays
    • Nephew of Sigmund Freud
    • Father of modern public relations
    • Created new model of PR that emphasized the application of social science research and behavioral psychology

1950 to 2000

  • After WWII, U.S. population grew, economy expanded, and big business became the norm
  • Because of the changes, Americans felt alienated and businesses were separated from their publics
    • Public relations boomed!
  • Idea of issues management was added to the job description of public relations manager
  • By 2000, scholars and practitioners began to conceptualize the practice of public relations as the “relationship management”

Recent Trends

  • Females have become the majority of public relations
    • Comprise 70% of public relations practitioners in America

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