What is Public Relations Good For?
There are many people who think they know what public relations is, but for the most part they don’t understand the importance that public relations offer. Public relations the key to every organization, without it they couldn’t function.
Most definitions of public relations contain two concepts, communication and management. Public relations is the way in which organizations communicate to their public. Organizations use public relations specialist to gain the trust and approval of the public. Public relations doesn’t exactly have a universal definition, however, the Public Relations News has described public relations as “… the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance” (Hunt 5-6). What this means is that public relations is not meant for the lower levels of an organization, it should be handled by the upper management where company policies and ideas are developed and conducted. It also means that public relations cannot be successful if it is based on guesses and wishful thinking. Public relations rely on up to date research about what the public interests and needs are. The emphasis on the public’s interests is what differentiates public relations from advertising or propaganda. Probably the most important part of the definition is the “ action to earn public understanding and acceptance.” The main idea of public relations is based on the concept of gaining the understanding and acceptance of the public. In order to be successful in this field you have to earn the trust of the audience (Bronzan, 4-5). The history of public relations dates back as far as the exchange of ideas, plans, or products. Although the term “public opinion” wasn’t actually created until the eighteenth century, the acknowledgement of its existence and importance extends as far back as the early Greek philosophers. Everyone from Julius Caesar to the Roman Catholic Church has used public opinion to use propaganda to their advantage. Public relations in American history reaches back to the founding founders. Leaders of the Revolutionary War such as Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin recognized the power and influence that propaganda had and used public relations support their cause. Some of the methods these men used include banners, posters, and slogans. A famous example of public relations in action was the Boston Tea Party. As the 18th century moved into the 19th century, it became clear that public relations was a necessity in business and politics. As the nation began to rebuild after the Civil War, President Andrew Jackson acquired the services of Amos Kendall to assist him. The President lacked efficient communication skills, so with Kendall’s help with newspaper articles, speeches, and news releases, Jackson’s public opinion soared. Kendall was also able to manipulate the press, stage events, organize political rallies and control political party activities. Kendall’s ideas help lead to the creation of the public relations field (Bronzan 8). In 1914 Ivey Lee, the father of public relations, was hired as the personal advisor of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. At the time the Rockefellers’ positive image was non-existent because of the lack of concern towards public welfare, so Lee was hired to change that. To eliminate the persistent public bitterness toward his employer, Lee developed what became known as the press release. Using press releases and carefully staged media events, Lee was able to turn the Rockefellers’ image into a positive one. Public relations continued to grow and be recognized as a necessity during the 20th century. Following World War I, another public relations pioneer came to the lime light of the field. Edward Bernays wrote...
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