HistoryOfPublicRelations, Apuntes de Historia. ESERP Barcelona

HistoryOfPublicRelations, Apuntes de Historia. ESERP Barcelona

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Asignatura: history, Profesor: Laura Perez, Carrera: Publicitat i Relacions Públiques (ESERP), Universidad: ESERP BCN
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History of Public Relations

Aims 1. Public Relations until World

War II

2. Dr Edward L. Bernays and the establishment of Public Relations

3. Public Relations since World War II

4. The future of Public Relations

Public Relations until WWII


Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines Public Relations as the art, technique or profession of promoting goodwill between an organisation or an individual and the public, employees, costumers, etc.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines PR as the art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public.

According to the Public Relations Society of America, PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics.



Public relations as a communication process, one that is strategic in nature and emphasising “mutually beneficial relationships.”

“Process” can evoke ideas of control and top-down, one-way communications.

“Relationships” relates to public relations’ role in helping to bring together organisations and individuals with their key stakeholders.

–Edward Bernays

“The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or

integrating people with people.”

Public Relations uses thought History

Promote Wars

Lobby for political causes

Support political parties

Promote religion

Sell products

Raise money

Publicise events and people

It has often said that the Rosetta Stone, which provide the key to modern understanding of Ancient Egypt, was basically a publicity re lease tout ing the pharaoh’s accomplishments.

Its text is written in three scripts: hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek.

The deciphering of the hieroglyphs by Jean François Champollion in 1822 led to the interpretation of many other early records of Egyptian civilisation 

The beginnings of Public Relations

In Rome, Julius Caesar wrote a lot of publicity on his military to convince the Roman People that he would become the best head of state.

This has been used by a lot of politicians in election periods.

Function of elaborate parades when gaining important battles.

Famous proverbs:

Alea jacta est (the die is cast)

Bread and circuses

The beginnings of Public Relations

Basically, the Apostles Peter and Paul used speeches, letters, and organisation of events to promote and spread Christianity.

The beginnings of Public Relations

For public relations to survive hundreds of years and flourish over time, there are some important people that deserve credit. One is Samuel Adams.

Adams was a strong supporter of America's complete independence from Britain.

He was the guiding force behind the Boston Tea Party. He also wrote numerous editorials in newspapers using a number of fake names, in an effort to make colonists angry at the British. His goal was to have the colonists resist the increasing control that Britain was attempting to place on the colonies by passing such laws at the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act.

The beginnings of Public Relations

Thomas Paine wrote  Common Sense, a plainly-written pamphlet to persuade the masses in support of the American revolution.

Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” advocated independence for the American colonies from Britain and is considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American history. 

Just five months later, the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson when the Revolution was already in full swing, described the future government’s powers and principles. 

The beginnings of Public Relations

In 1845, Frederick Douglass, an African- American statesman and leader of the abolitionist movement, was inspired to publish the  North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper.

The  North Star  was inspired by William Lloyd Garrison’s weekly anti-slavery newspaper,  The Liberator, launched in 1831.

Garrison, was a prominent journalist and abolitionist. Both Douglass and Garrison later became vocal woman suffrage supporters

The beginnings of Public Relations

G e o rg i a n a C a v e n d i s h , D u c h e s s o f Devonshire (1757-1806) was an English socialite, style icon, author and activist.

She was well known as a sort of publicist lobbyist and campaigner for Charles James Fox, a Whig statesman in the late 1800s.

Her efforts on behalf of Charles James Fox included press relations, lobbying and, with her friends, celebrity campaign.

Lady Georgiana campaign for the election of Fox received widespread publicity in caricatures and newspapers.

The beginnings of Public Relations

The beginnings of Public Relations

The beginnings of Public Relations

The beginnings of Public Relations

Age of pioneers

Samuel Insull Henry Ford

Theodore Rooselvelt

George CreelIvy Lee

Samuel Insull

Samuel Insull (1859-1838) worked into the offices of Thomas Edison ultimately becoming his chief in staff and he was an early supporter of PR.

He greatly contributed to creating and integrating electrical infrastructure in the United States. He popularised mass production and selling at the lowest possible cost.

He became president of the Chicago Edison Company, pioneered consumer relations practices.

His company developed the first ‘bill stuffers’ in 1912. It also used news released and external magazines. Insull was the first person to make public relations films.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford (1863-1947) was the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production.

He created the term ‘fordism’: mass production of “low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them”. As a result, the $5 per day wage became a successful public relations tactic.

He is recognised as the first major industrialist to utilise two basic Public Relations concepts: ‘positioning’ -the idea that credit and publicity always go to those who do something first-, and ready ‘accessibility’ to the press.

Theodore Rooselvelt Roosevelt (1858-1919) made a significant change by being the first president to take advantage of the public relations techniques of news conferences and interviews, multimedia campaigns, recorded audio and new radio technology.

He also used his public office as a powerful speaking platform in order to endorse himself and sway public opinion in favor of his policies.

He forged a path for future presidents to constantly partake in the work of branding, publicity and opinion management—later considered the work of spin.

He pioneered methods such as touring the country to promote favoured legislation, approaching the Washington press corps, hosting informal press conferences, keeping tabs on photographers, and staging ingenious publicity stunts.

Theodore Rooselvelt

“No American President has played a larger role in institutionalising public relations in the White House than Theodore Roosevelt”

-Rodger Streitmatter, American Journalism


Ivy Lee

Ivy Ledbetter Lee (1877-1934) is considered by some to be one of the modern founder of modern public relations, along with Edward Bernays.

In 1914 he was hired by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to represent his family. Rockefeller owned coal mines and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Miners were on strike and the railroad hushed up the facts when its trains were involved with accidents.

Lee advised Rockefeller to visit the coal mines and talk to the miners. Rockefeller spent time listening to the complaints of the miners, improved their conditions, danced with their wives, and became an hero for the miners.

Ivy Lee

This actually helped Rockefeller realize that the miners were right in demanding a raise and better working conditions

Then, Lee invited reporters to inspect the wreck and get the facts. The Pennsylvania Railroad then obtained its first favorable press coverage.

Ivy Lee professionalised PR by following these principles: (1) tell the truth, (2) provide accurate facts, and (3) the PR director must have access to top management and must be able to influence decisions.

Lee defined PR saying: “Public relations means the actual relationship of the company to the people and that relationship involves more than talk. The company must act by performing good deeds.”

George Edward Creel George Creel (1876-1953) was a writer and newspaperman. Creel began his career as a newspaper reporter for the Kansas City World in 1894 and started publishing his own newspaper, the Kansas City Independent, in 1899

In 1917 he was appointed head of the U.S. Committee on Public Information, the government’s propaganda and publicity agency, by President Woodrow Wilson. For the next two years he used modern public-relations techniques to promote the war effort, at home and abroad.

He also persuaded newspapers and magazines to provide free space for promoting of war Liberty Bonds.

Creel was awareness about the power of mediated information in changing public attitudes and behaviours.

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