Public relations has been with us for thousands of years. The greek for example had a word for it, sematikos which means sematics, which can br defined as getting people to believe and to do things. That, is not a bad defination of public relations.
In 50 B.C julius ceaser wrote the first campaign biography, ceasers gallic wars. He publicized his military exploits to convince the roman people that he would make the best head of state. Candidates for political office continue to publicize themselves with campaign biographies to date.
In 394 A.D, St. Augusstine was a professor of rhetoric in Milan, he delivered the regular eulogies to the emperor and was the closest thing to a minister of propaganda for the imperial court. Thus, St Augustine was one of the first peoole in charge of public relations. The modern equivalent would be the presidential press secretary.
In 1776, Thomas paine wrote “The crisis” a pamphlet which convinced the soldiers of washingtons army to stay and fight at a time whenso many were prepared to dessert so they could escape the cold and hardship of winter. Paine was a master of political propaganda whose writing could get people to do things and believe things.
Benjamin franklin made it a rule to forbear all contradiction to others, and all positive assertions of his own.franklin pioneered the rules for personal relations in an era before mass media had made possible a profession called public relations.
In the middle 19th century appeared a man who was to become one of the leading publicists of all time, P.T barnum. His accomplishments include the founding of the american museum and the establishment of the Barnum and Baileyn circus. He was a master of promotion who could fill his enterprises with customers by using what today we call adverts.
William steward, lincolns secretary of state in 1861, gained a large american audience through his understanding of how to use the press.
References: The Unseen Power: Public Relations, a History Scott M. Cutlip. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994 Corporate Public Relations: A New Historical Perspective Marvin N. Olasky. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987