Business & Finance Business Information

Interesting Brief History of Public Relations

Interesting Brief History of Public Relations


Public relations has been around for a long time, believe it or not, some say thousands of years. While it was not always called "public relations", maybe people did not even have a word for it, the concept of PR was even practiced back in Caesar's day.


In the wonderful year of 50 BC, Caesar wrote the first campaign bio. He talked about his military victories to show he would be the best leader.


In 394 AD, St. Augustine was one of the first people to be in a PR role, he was basically the modern day equivalent of the President's PR Secretary since he was a rhetoric professor in Milan; he would inform the emperor of news and was in charge of propaganda.


During the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine wrote "The Crisis", which was a small pamphlet that was intended to convince the colonial troops to stay and fight instead of deserting. The pamphlet worked and they obviously won the war. Paine became a political propaganda guru.


Benjamin Franklin was one of the first people to lay some ground rules for things like public relations, despite the term not being around yet. He used the printing press for some of his works and it worked. He also had his rule of not contradicting others or himself.


William Seward was Lincoln's Secretary of State and would garner mass audiences via the press; one of the biggest molds for current franchise PR that we see today. He would regularly communicate with the newspapers.


Ivy Lee was one of the founding fathers of modern day PR, including franchise public relations, as he was able to help John D. Rockefeller with PR for his mines and railroads. His job was to help JDR hush up the news when one of JDR's mines was on strike or one of his trains was involved in an accident. It was Lee's idea for JDR to visit the miners, hear complaints, improve conditions, and win their hearts. He also helped Rockefeller's railroads get positive press coverage. Lee believed in telling the truth, giving honest and accurate facts, and letting the PR have access to those in charge.


Edward Bernays also helped PR make a big leap forward. He mentioned that PR had some principals: interpret the company to the public and interpret the public to the company. This would promote the client and then allow the company to win approval of the public. Bernays did not believe in accepting unethical clients.


Public relations has a lot of history behind it and knowing the history can give us a greater understanding of PR. We all need PR and its powers are meant to help any business. Contact a Chicago PR agency today. 

Leave a reply