The History of Public Relations
The act of public relations dates back to 52 B.C.E. in ancient Rome and continues on
today all around the world. Public relations is defined as the controlling factor that searches to
form and maintain relationships between organizations, profit or non-profit and the public that
are beneficial for both parties (Bates). The age of public relations as a profession evolved in the
20th Century, mainly in the United States, but its foundation can be followed throughout the age
of man. The practice of public relations is dedicated to complete honesty and openness in its
communications and operations. Over time, the force of professional public relations has
triumphed over several setbacks.
Arthur W. Page, creator of the five principles of corporate public relations in 1927 stated,
"All business in a democratic country begins with public permission and exists by public
approval. If that be true, it follows that business should be cheerfully willing to tell the public
what its policies are, what it is doing, and what it hopes to do. This seems practically a duty."
Page's principles still carry on today with many businesses and corporations.
Page and other renown public relations professionals such as Edward Bernays, founder of
modern public relations, believe that pr and civilization is a collaboration that exists throughout
time. As far back as the time of Julius Caesar, many historians believe the he wrote his Commentaries as governor of Gaul to promote himself to the public. Caesar, being aware of
persuasion and how news can inform the public, published a daily paper called Acta Diurna,
meaning "daily acts" or "daily records", that carried on for 400years. Since the invention of
writing, public relations was formed. Leaders of ancient civilizations used writings to promote
their superiority in war and politics. Public interest became a huge priority for everyone.
The Renaissance and Reformation founded the modern world and the first stages of
public relations that is attributed to public and private organizations today and several articles of
history. The Magna Carta, which influenced the U.S. Constitution, for example, empowered the
right to public opinion. In 1789, the leaders of the French Revolution wrote Declaration of the
Rights of Man and Citizens, to promote citizens to express and communicate their opinion freely. With this, the French gained support for the French Revolution from the public.
Many proficient public relations writers arose from England's American colonies. Such
legendary experts include Samuel Adams, John Jay, Paul Revere, and Benjamin Franklin. These
men used preaching, meetings, newspapers, pamphlets, committees, and written communication
to persuade the public to support their cause. The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander
Hamilton, James Madison, and Jay in 1787 to 1788, won public approval of the Constitution by
publishing to the press. Other great works that paved the way for the public relations field are,
the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Public relations, though used throughout history, has just made an imprint on U.S.
society in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century as a profession. With the
building of a corporate world in the late 19th century, public relations blossomed. It was not long
that many employers discovered that their employees have a voice and how the public views
their business may be detrimental to their sales. The war between employer and employee
would soon be over with the establishment of press bureaus. These press bureaus would manage
the dispersal of news in their favor and unfavorable to their competitors. It was not until the late
1800s that the term public relations would be vastly...
Bibliography: Don Bates, "MINI-ME" HISTORY TO INFORM AND PERSUADE: Public Relations from the Dawn of Civilization, Institute for public relations, www.instituteforpr.com, July 18, 2005.
Edward L. Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923; reprint ed., Norman, OK.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961).
Edward L. Bernays, Public Relations (Norman, OK.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952)
Scott Cutlip, Public Relations History: From the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century (Mahwah, NJ.: Lawrence Erlbaum & Associates, 1999).
Public Relations Society of America, Public Relations Education for the 21st Century: A Port of Entry, PRSA, www.prsa.org, July 19, 2005.
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