The history of public relations is mostly confined to the early half of the twentieth century; however there is evidence of the practices scattered through history. One notable practitioner was Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire whose efforts on behalf of Charles James Fox in the 18th century included press relations, lobbying and, with her friends, celebrity campaigning. A number of American precursors to public relations are found in the form of publicists who specialized in promoting circuses, theatrical performances, and other public spectacles.
In the United States, where public relations has its origins, many early public relations practices were developed in support of railroads. In fact, many scholars believe that the first appearance of the term “public relations” appeared in the 1897 Year Book of Railway Literature. Later, practitioners were — and are still often — recruited from the ranks of journalism. Some reporters concerned with ethics criticize former colleagues for using their inside understanding of news media to help clients receive favorable media coverage.
Some historians regard Ivy Lee as the first real practitioner of public relations, but Edward Bernays, a nephew and student of Sigmund Freud, is generally regarded today as the profession’s founder. In the United Kingdom Sir Basil Clarke (1879–1947) was a pioneer of public relations. The First World War helped stimulate the development of public relations as a profession. Many of the first PR professionals, including Ivy Lee, Edward Bernays,John W.
Hill, and Carl Byoir, got their start with the Committee on Public Information (also known as the Creel Committee), which organized publicity on behalf of U. S. objectives during World War I. In describing the origin of the term Public Relations, Bernays commented, “When I came back to the United States [from the war], I decided that if you could use propaganda for war, you could certainly use it for peace. And propaganda got to be a bad word because of the Germans … using it.
So what I did was to try to find some other words, so we found the words Counsel on Public Relations”. Ivy Lee, who has been credited with developing the modern news release (also called a “press release”), espoused a philosophy consistent with what has sometimes been called the “two-way street” approach to public relations in which PR consists of helping clients listen as well as communicate messages to their publics. In the words of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other. In practice, however, Lee often engaged in one-way propagandizing on behalf of clients despised by the public, including Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller. Shortly before his death, the US Congress had been investigating Rockefeller’s work on behalf of the controversial Nazi German company IG Farben. Bernays was the profession’s first theorist. Bernays drew many of his ideas from Sigmund Freud’s theories about the irrational, unconscious motives that shape human behaviour. Bernays authored several books, including Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923), Propaganda (1928), and The Engineering of Consent (1947).
He saw public relations as an “applied social science” that uses insights from psychology, sociology, and other disciplines to scientifically manage and manipulate the thinking and behavior of an irrational and “herdlike” public. “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,” he wrote in Propaganda, “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
One of Bernays’ early clients was the tobacco industry. In 1929, he orchestrated a now-legendary publicity stunt aimed at persuading women to take upcigarette smoking, an act that at the time was exclusively equated with men. It was considered unfeminine and inappropriate for women to smoke; besides the occasional prostitute, virtually no women participated in the act publicly. Another early practitioner was Harry Reichenbach (1882–1931) a New York-based American press agent and publicist who promoted movies.
He claims to have made famous the Paul Chabas painting,September Morn. Supposedly, he saw a print in a Chicago art store window. He made a deal with the store owner who had not sold any of his 2,000 prints. Reichenbach had hired some boys to “ogle” the picture when he showed it to the moralist crusader Anthony Comstock. Comstock was suitably outraged when he saw it. Comstock’s Anti-Vice Society took the case to the court and lost.
In 1950 PRSA enacts the first “Professional Standards for the Practice of Public Relations,” a forerunner to the current Code of Ethics, last revised in 2000 to include six core values and six code provisions. The six core values are “Advocacy, Honesty, Expertise, Independence, Loyalty, and Fairness. ” The six code provisions consulted with are “Free Flow of Information, Competition, Disclosure of Information, Safeguarding Confidences, Conflicts of Interest, and Enhancing the Profession. In 1982 effective Public Relations helped save the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, after the highly publicized Tylenol Public relations (PR) is a profession with varying definitions because of its many functions and the differentiating perceptions held by its practitioners  and the public. Public relations (PR) is a profession that includes the functions of communication, community relations, crisis management, customer relations, employee relations, government affairs, industry relations, investor relations, media relations, mediation, publicity, speech-writing, and visitor relations.
The first World Assembly of Public Relations Associations, held in Mexico City in August 1978, defined the practice of public relations as “the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest. ” . Others define it as the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics. 3] Public relations provides an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that provide a third-party endorsement and do not direct payment.  Common activities include speaking at conferences, working with the media, crisis communications, social media engagement, and employee communication. It is something that is not tangible; this is what sets it apart from advertising. PR can be used to build rapport with employees, customers, investors, voters, or the general public. 5] Almost any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs some level of public relations. There are a number of related disciplines falling under the banner of Corporate Communications, such as Analyst Relations, Media Relations, Investor Relations, Internal Communications and Labor Relations. PR professionals focus on building relationships that help to establish rapport with publics. Public Relations professionals must know how to write clearly, speak clearly, and think analytically.
These skills are necessary because in the field of PR there is constant communication between professionals and their publics. PR professionals also have to think critically so that they can come up with resolutions to problems their clients may face. There are many areas of public relations, but the most recognized are financial public relations, product public relations, and crisis public relations. ?Financial public relations – providing information mainly to business reporters. ?Product public relations – gaining publicity for a particular product or service (rather than using advertising). Crisis public relations – responding to negative accusations or information. The practice of public relations is spreading widely. On the professional level, there is an organization called Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). This organization is the world’s largest public relations organization.
PRSA is a community of more than 21,000 professionals that work to advance the skill set of public relations. PRSA also fosters a national student organization called Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). The declared purpose of PRSSA is to cultivate a favorable and mutually advantageous relationship between students and professional public relations practitioner. PRSSA’s mission is: ” 1) To serve our members by enhancing their knowledge of public relations and providing access to professional development opportunities; 2) To serve the public relations profession by helping to develop highly qualified, well-prepared professionals. “These organizations should be strongly considered by anyone looking to have a career in public relations. Edward L. Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, is widely recognized as the father of public relations.
Bernays graduated from Cornell University in 1912 and opened the first recognized public-relations firm with Doris Fleischman in 1919. As Harold Lasswell explained in 1928, “public relations” was a term used as a way of shielding the profession from the ill repute increasingly associated with the word “propaganda”: “Propaganda has become an epithet of contempt and hate, and the propagandists have sought protective coloration in such names as ‘public relations council,’ ‘specialist in public education,’ ‘public relations adviser. ‘ Methods, tools and tactic
Public relations and publicity are not synonymous, but many PR campaigns include provisions for publicity. Publicity is the spreading of information to gain public awareness for a product, person, service, cause or organization, and can be seen as a result of effective PR planning. More recently in public relations, professionals are using technology as their main tool to get their messages to target audiences. With the creation of social networks, blogs, and even internet radio public relations professionals are able to send direct messages through these mediums that attract the target audiences.
Methods used to find out what is appealing to target audiences include the use of surveys, conducting research or even focus groups. Tactics are the ways to attract target audiences by using the information gathered about that audience and directing a message to them using tools such as social media or other technology. Publics targeting A fundamental technique used in public relations is to identify the target audience, and to tailor every message to appeal to that audience. It can be a general, nationwide or worldwide audience, but it is more often a segment of a population.
A good elevator pitch can help tailor messaging to each target audience. Marketers often refer to economy-driven “demographics,” such as “black males 18-49,” but in public relations an audience is more fluid, being whoever someone wants to reach. For example, recent political audiences include “soccer moms” and “NASCAR dads. ” There is also a psychographic grouping based on fitness level, eating preferences, “adrenaline junkies,” etc… In addition to audiences, there are usually stakeholders, people who have a stake in a given issue.
All audiences are stakeholders (or presumptive stakeholders), but not all stakeholders are audiences. For example, if a charity commissions a PR agency to create an advertising campaign to raise money to find a cure for a disease, the charity and the people with the disease are stakeholders, but the audience is anyone who is likely to donate money. Lobby groups Lobby groups are established to influence government policy, corporate policy, or public opinion. An example of this is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, which influences American foreign policy.
Such groups claim to represent a particular interest and in fact are dedicated to doing so. When a lobby group hides its true purpose and support base, it is known as a front group. Moreover, governments may also lobby public relations firms in order to sway public opinion. A well illustrated example of this is the way civil war in Yugoslavia was portrayed. Governments of newly succeeded republics of Croatia and Bosnia invested heavily with American PR firms, so that the PR firms would give them a positive war image in the US.  Meet and Greet
Many businesses and organizations will use a Meet and Greet as a method of introducing two or more parties to each other in a comfortable setting. These will generally involve some sort of incentive, usually food catered from restaurants, to encourage employees or members to participate. There are opposing schools of thought as to how the specific mechanics of a Meet and Greet operate. The Gardiner school of thought states that unless specified as an informal event, all parties should arrive promptly at the time at which the event is scheduled to start.
The Kolanowski school of thought, however, states that parties may arrive at any time after the event begins, in order to provide a more relaxed interaction environment. Other ?Publicity events, pseudo-events, photo ops or publicity stunts. ?Talk show circuit. A PR spokesperson (or his/her client) “does the circuit” by being interviewed on television and radio talk shows with audiences that the client wishes to reach. ?Books and other writings. ?Blogs. ?After a PR practitioner has been working in the field for a while, he or she accumulates a list of contacts in the media and elsewhere in the public affairs sphere.
This “Rolodex” becomes a prized asset, and job announcements sometimes even ask for candidates with an existing Rolodex, especially those in the media relations area of PR. ?Direct communication (carrying messages directly to constituents, rather than through the mass media) with, e. g. , newsletters – in print and e-letters. ?Collateral literature, traditionally in print and now predominantly as web sites. ?Speeches to constituent groups and professional organizations; receptions; seminars, and other events; personal appearances. The slang term for a PR practitioner or publicist is a “flack” (sometimes spelled “flak”). ?A Desk Visit is where the PR person literally takes their product to the desk of the journalist in order to show them what they are promoting. ?Astroturfing is the act of PR agencies placing blog and online forum messages for their clients, in the guise of a normal “grassroots” user or comment. ?Online Social Media.
150 Years of Modern Public Relations Practices in Nigeria Abstract: Purpose of this paper: This paper traces the history and development of modern public relations practices in Nigeria over a hundred and fifty (150) year period, 1859 to 2008. Design/method/approach: This objective is achieved via a conceptual review of existing academic and professional literatures concerning Nigerian media history, public relations management, business studies and mass communication studies. Findings: This study dispels the notion that modern public relations practices began in Nigeria with the creation of a public information unit by the United African Company (then a British multinational) in 1949.
The study presents evidence indicating that modern public relations practices actually began with the establishment of the first newspaper in 1859 by the late Henry Townsend (a British missionary). Findings from the study also indicate the dominance of four important periods in the development of modern public relations practices in Nigeria. These include public relations broadcasting era, political propaganda era, public information era and the professionalisation era.
Theoretical implication: The review of conceptual literature in this study adds to existing literature on the development of public relations around the world. It gives indication that academic knowledge on public relations practices has not only grown in western countries but that it has also developed in developing countries. Practical implications: Insights given about the development of public relations practices (especially the recent rise of well established PR consulting firms) indicates that the practice of public relations in Nigeria has matured.
Limitation of study and future research direction: Conceptual literature on the history of public relations in the public sector especially before Nigeria’s independence in 1960 is growing. This paper adds to the volume of works in this area of study. However, there is a limited understanding of the developmental and historical use of public relations tools such as marketing PR, media relations, financial and consumer PR. Also there is limited information on how the use of PR developed amongst non-governmental organisations.
It would therefore be educative to commission another study that will undertake a comprehensive research into this aspect of the Nigerian public relations history. This limitation provides an opportunity for future research. Original value of the paper: The paper provides insights on history of public relations in Nigeria which is under studied. Information on how public relations developed in a African cultural context provides western academics a balanced view of the development of public relations not just in western countries but also in a developing country.