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Introduction to
Public Relations
Part One
Public Relations…The Profession
Chapter 2
A Brief History of Public Relations
Lesson 2A
© 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
A Conceptual Schema for Studying Public
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
The Profession
The Process
The Publics
The Practice
Chapter 2
falls here.
Affairs and
Action and
Law and Ethics
Slide 2 of 38
In Part One—Chapter 2, Our Focus
is the History of PR
We will look at the history of Public
Relations before, during and after the
industrial revolution and the changes that
have occurred in the field.
Today’s Learning Objectives
Understand that even powerful people cannot ignore
the opinions of the public.
Realize how a democracy is dependent on a strong,
opinionated public.
Witness how an intentional and sustained campaign
to broadly influence the public can be very effective.
Is public relations history important?
Why Study the Historical
Roots of Public Relations?
To excel in a sociological profession (like
public relations), you must master its
cultural roots.
What are the dynamics in a culture (past and
present) that make your field vital to successful
involvement in that culture?
What forces shaped your culture regarding how
people think and behave relative to your
Made in America
Public relations as a profession was initially
an American phenomenon.
By the end of the 20th century, the same
forces were mandating a need for PR
throughout the industrialized world.
Leaders through the centuries have always
sought to influence their publics.
Let’s examine some early attempts.
Great Communicators of the Premodern Era
Who would you say influenced the public the
most by delivering a speech?
Pope Urban II
Abraham Lincoln
Winston Churchill
Martin Luther King
Johnny Carson
Many historians believe that Pope Urban did.
Never heard of him, you say?
How a speech united a continent…
The Speech that Inflamed a Continent
Pope Urban declared the misdeeds of the
Seljuks in a speech given in Claremont, France
(A.D. 1095).
• In his speech, he challenged Europe to
send an army to protect the holy places
and Christian visitors in Palestine from
the Seljuk Turks.
Europe overwhelmingly responded to
Urban’s challenge, and thus began the
Crusades that lasted for two centuries
From Pope Urban we learn:
Click image to read Pope Urban’s speech.
Slide 8 of 38
To influence people, we must identify
sincerely with their common passions.
We must clearly and publicly express
our aspirations.
The Timing of Luther’s List
Martin Luther began the Protestant
Reformation with a list of
In 1517 he publicly posted a list of 95
grievances he held against the church
leaders in Rome.Within a few years,
half of Europe supported Luther’s ideas.
A few decades earlier, Luther
probably would have been burned
at the stake for his protest (as was
Jon Hus).
But in 1517, much of Europe was
brewing for radical change and
Luther knew it.
Slide 9 of 38
Click to read a few of Luther's
arguments in his 95 Theses.
The Role of Public Opinion
Throughout history, leaders have courted
public sentiments to sustain their power.
Even monarchies or dictators cannot afford to
ignore public attitudes. They often take pains to
assure that their subjects are supportive of their
Constitutional monarchies and democracies
arose from a self-consciousness of the
One change was indirectly influenced by an
unpopular, political philosopher.
That philosopher was Locke…
The Influence of John Locke
The concept of the natural right of
people to oversee their rulers was
developed by English philosopher John
Locke (d. 1704) and later adopted by
Thomas Jefferson. Locke taught radical
ideas that were very unpopular with
European rulers but became accepted
in America, such as…
Governments derive their power from the
consent of their subjects.
Democracy is a very advanced and more
natural form of government.
Click to read about John
Locke, prophet of
modern democracy.
Democracies thrive on public opinion…
America—Dynamic Greenhouse
for Public Power
Unique and simultaneous political-cultural forces
created a new power for public opinion in young
A democratic and republican government of, by and for
the people
Free markets
Systems of checks and balances
A rise in affluence and education for “commoners”
An independent population voting with ballots and
Such forces caused public relations to be made in
Public Relations in the
Revolutionary War
Before the American Revolutionary War (17741783) began, colonial leaders had no wish to
pursue war with Britain.
The revolution had to be a popular war if democratic
ideas were to work.
Yet, the leaders recognized a problem—only one-third
of Americans favored independence.
Two leaders of the revolution shrewdly appealed
to public sentiment.
Samuel Adams - a true campaigner
George Washington - a maximizer of success
Adams was before his time regarding influence…
Samuel Adams—the Campaigner
A member of the Continental
Congress, Samuel Adams initiated a
sustained, public campaign to influence
Americans to seek independence by:
Using symbols that were easily
identifiable and aroused emotions.
Publicizing slogans that are still
remembered such as “Taxation without
representation is tyranny.”
Publicizing events such as “The Boston
Massacre” when the British fired into a
group of colonists.
Staging events such as the Boston Tea
Party to influence public opinion.
The Boston Tea Party—an act of AngloAmericans dressed as Native Americans.
A Broad Appeal to the
People’s Idealism –
The federalists papers
After the Revolutionary War, the Federalist
Papers, a series of 85 newspaper essays
about the Constitution and the new form of
government, were published. The
Federalist Papers appealed to Americans
for a form of government to guard and
enhance three values:
ideals of common justice
the general welfare of the public
the rights of individuals and private property
The widespread distribution of the
Federalist Papers led to the ratification of
the U.S. Constitution (1787-88).
Click image to view The
Federalist Papers
The Industrial Revolution Began A
New Era of Public Relations
The Industrial Revolution (19th-20th
centuries) was a landmark era for public
relations. At the end of the 19th century,
changes in social and economic
conditions mandated new relations
between industry and the public.
The Industrial Revolution brought about a
change in how products were made—from
using hand tools at home to using
machine and power tools in a factory.
There were new and not always pleasant
realities of American life:
 The enforced rhythm of the factory
 The stress of urban life
 The vast distinction between bosses
and workers During this era, public
relations began to develop as an
independent profession.
Three industrial forces…
Slide 16 of 38
Three Major Industrial Forces
The modern public relations profession is
an outgrowth of three American forces in
the 19th-20th centuries:
Broad recognition of the power of public
Competition among institutions for public
Development of media to quickly influence
public opinion
Corporate America’s Response
Business leaders recognized that new
stresses on the populace threatened
“Corporations gradually began to realize the
importance of combating hostility and courting
public favor.”
—Marie Curtl
The term public relations came into use at this
The earliest appearance was probably in Dorman
Eaton's 1882 address to the graduating class of
the Yale Law School.
American Industry Learned to Value
Public Image
Business leaders began to hire people
adept at understanding how to influence
the public.
AT&T (1883): Theodore Vail hired Charles J.
Smith to manage company conflict with the
Westinghouse (1889): George Westinghouse,
patriarch of his famous electrical company,
hired E. H. Heinrichs to establish the first
corporate public relations department.
 The goal was to win the fight against Thomas
Edison regarding how the nation would be
wired (AC or DC).
George Westinghouse used
PR to bring us AC current.
Three Stages of PR Development
in the Industrial Age
Development of these stages was sequential, but
all three still exist.
Mutual influence and understanding
Today public relations is moving…
away from using any available means to achieve desired
public opinion
toward informing the public and providing
Let’s consider
counsel to management
Stage One: Manipulation through
Press Agentry
Businesses would issue press releases
characterized by exaggeration, distortion
and deception.
Based on the public’s willingness to believe
anything in print.
During this era, the publicity stunt idea gained
A Classic Press Agent
P. T. Barnum (d. 1891)—the master press
The circus owner Barnum masterfully
and, some say, inaccurately used
publicity to make money.
Click on his image to read a sketch of
Barnum’s marketing skills.
“Propaganda of the Deed” The Downside
In the quest to gain media and public
attention, press agentry became increasingly
outrageous, exploitive, manipulative, and
even cruel.
Paul Brousse (French sociologist in 1878)
argued for:
The Propaganda of the Deed : the idea
justified the need for actions to gain public
attention to political ideas/grievances.
For European anarchists in the late
nineteenth century, propaganda of the
deed meant bombing, murder, and
Propaganda of the deed became known as
terrorism after the 1960s.
Slide 23 of 38
Smoke billowing over Tulsa,Oklahoma
during 1921 race riots, Alvin C. Krupnick
Co., photographer, Library of Congress
The Rise of Nonviolent Press Agentry
The twentieth century witnessed the use of
non-violent, staged events to draw
attention to social/political issues.
Mahatma Gandhi ingeniously used
non-violence to bring independence
to India (1930-1947).
Inspired by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.
successfully applied non-violent events to
change American attitudes and laws about
civil rights for black Americans (1960s).
The way Gandhi even dressed
and traveled were meant to
influence public opinion. To
learn more about Gandhi, visit
this site:
Slide 24 of 38
Press Agentry and Hostility
The success of press agents in attracting
attention and a public response often results
in hostility from the press and the public.
Such results are assured if the publicity is coupled
with blatantly deceptive and manipulative tactics.
Press agentry gave public relations a bad
name that persists to this day.
Public relations practitioners should use
press agentry only with high ethics and great
From manipulation to cooperation…
Stage Two: Cooperation through
Distribution of Information
By the early 1900s, businesses were forced to
submit to three new dynamics:
numerous governmental regulations
increasingly hostile criticism from the press
rise of the American labor union movements
Public relations moved from the stage of press
agentry to an era of public cooperation through
distribution of accurate information.
The First Publicity Bureau
In 1900, George Michaelis established the
first publicity bureau in Boston to serve
He gathered factual information about his
clients for distribution to newspapers.
By 1906, his major clients were the nation's
railroads that were seeking to head off adverse
regulations being promoted by President
Theodore Roosevelt.
President Roosevelt
vs. the Railroads
President Roosevelt, who saw the
presidency as “a bully pulpit,''
proved to be more than a match for
the Publicity Bureau.
The first president to make extensive
use of press conferences and
interviews, Roosevelt was said to rule
the country from the newspapers'
front pages.
Slide 28 of 38
The Father of Public Relations—
Ivy Lee
Lee made the first move toward the
modern practice of information sharing,
such as reporting on employee benefits
and safety. Some of his clients were:
Pennsylvania Railroad (1906-1909)
John D. Rockefeller and the Colorado Fuel
Strike (1914)
Moving Toward Openness
and Honesty
Ivy Lee (d. 1934)
Lee convinced the corporate clients
of his publicity agency (est. 1904) to
become more open and honest with
the public.
The public was no longer to be
ignored…nor fooled, in the continuing
manner of the press agent. —Eric
Edward Bernays—Pioneer of
PR Education
Edward Bernays made significant
contributions to equipping
practitioners for effective service. He
taught the first collegiate public
relations course at New York
University (1923) and wrote the first
public relations textbook, Crystallizing
Public Opinion .
Bernays developed three tools to
influence public consent:
 market research
 social surveys
 public opinion polls
Click image to read a biography of Bernays
(center). Photo from the Museum of Public
Relations (
Committee on Public
President Woodrow Wilson turned
public relations from a defensive
tool to an offensive one when he
set up the Committee on Public
Information in 1917 to gain
support for World War I.
Led by newspaper man George
Creel, the Committee on Public
Information was a phenomenal
The Censor Board of the Committee on Public
On May 1, 1917, there were
Information; George Creel is seated on the far
350,000 holders of U.S. Bonds. Sixright. Photo from
months later, 10 million held
Stage Three: Mutual Influence and
Now public relations opens a two-way door for
It became increasingly obvious to practitioners that
organizations communicate with the public not only by
words but also by their response to public opinion.
This new awareness allowed practitioners to advise
management as well as inform the public.
Consequently, public relations professionals gained a place
in the heart of business organizations—the decisionmaking and operational aspects.
Ivy Lee was again in the vanguard…
John D. Rockefeller and
the Colorado Fuel Strike
Ludlow Massacre at the miners strike
(1914) against Colorado Fuel and Iron
Company shocked the nation.
Out of the 22 deaths
in the Ludlow
Massacre, 13 were
women and
Click this box to view
photographs of the massacre
circulated at the time.
Slide 34 of 38
In desperation, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.,
the key stockholder, gave Ivy Lee the
opportunity to become a consultant on the
internal workings of his coal business.
Lee strongly recommended to Rockefeller
that he improve communications with
miners and establish mechanisms to
redress workers' grievances.
emphasis on counseling
management to take positive action marked
a major shift in public relations theory and
Inward Focus on Employees
In addition to its outward focus, public relations
expanded its inward focus. This had several
Employees became recognized as a significant
Ivy Lee persuaded his client American Tobacco
Company to introduce profit-sharing for its
By 1925, more than half of all major manufacturing
companies were publishing employee magazines.
The practice moves upward…
AT&T and Arthur Page
Arthur Page accepted AT&T’s offer of PR
vice president on the condition that he
would have a voice in company policy.
Page set out to win public confidence. This
required a continuous and planned
program of positive
public relations.
Click on the image to read a short
biography of Arthur Page, a giant of
a PR practitioner. Photo from
AT&T went directly to the public
with a film program for schools and
civic groups.
AT&T paid fees for employees to
join outside organizations as
Finally, the company sought to
have as many people as possible
own its stock.
A Summary of the Three Stages
of PR Development
Manipulation through press agentry:
Cooperation through open information:
Generally viewed negatively, but misuse can be
avoided if cemented with honesty and positive motives.
Organization accepts power of external and internal
public opinion by providing positive information and
Mutual influence through understanding:
The most effective stage is for organizations and the
public to mutually understand and influence each other
for the good of all.