History of Public Relations

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Public Relations (PR) results from a convicted and thoughtful communication process that recognizes that favourable public opinion, attention and support is not achieved by accident. It recognizes a great deal of hard work since success depends on ensuring that nothing happens by chance. This is probably due to the inevitable growing complexity of the world and its communication channel and our Ghanaian society in particular.

Every organization either provides a service or direct sales of products to its publics. This is regardless of whether the organization is state owned or otherwise. This presupposes that every organization has its own defined publics it deals with day to day basis. This is where PR comes in.

According to the British Institute of Public Relations (IPR), PR is a deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics. In 1999 the Institute added another version to the definition which is on reputation – Public Relations is about reputation, the results of what you do, what you say, what others say about you. Public Relations practice is a discipline, which looks after reputation – the aim of earning understanding, support and influence public opinion.

Edward Bernays, the grandfather of PR in the USA sees Public Relations practitioner as an applied sociologist who advises clients or employers on social attitudes and action to be taken to win the support of public upon which the viability of the employers and clients depend (Harrison, 2000).

Cutlip, Center and Broom (1985) are of the view that “Public Relations is a management function that establishes and maintains mutual beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on which its success or failure depends”

Ruehl defines public relations as “Public Relations is what public relations does”

“ PR practice is the art and social science of analyzing trends predicting their consequencies, counseling organizations leaders and implementing planned programmes of action which serve both the organization and the publics interest” (World Assembly of PR, Mexico City, 1978)

Canfield (1952) in different semester inner do, upholds this perception of Public Relations as “a social philosophy of management expressed in policies and practice which are communicated to the public to secure its understanding”

Philip Kitchen (1977) in his book Public relations; Principles and Practices came out with a revelation that over 500 Public Relations definitions exist; however a number of common themes abound as follows;

- Public Relations is essentially a communication function but the emphasis is on the two- way nature of the communication process.

- Public Relations is concerned with establishing and maintaining mutual understanding (goodwill) between an organization and its particular group of people (publics).

- Public Relation serves as an intelligent function analyzing and interpreting trends and issues in the environment that may have potential consequences for an organization and its stakeholders.

Running through these definitions is the fact that, the practice is essentially in promoting mutual understanding, rapport and goodwill between an organization and its publics. Such a condition, needless to say is indispensable to the success of every establishment including higher education. It must be noted that this condition is premised on a two-way communication system with both inward and outward activities.

An organization must be able to communicate its plans and actions to the public and at the same time, the public thinking and attitude must be communicated to the organization in order to evolve acceptable policies. It is not enough that an...
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