The Golden Age of Communications_Harden Partners Blog

The Evolution Of Public Relations

The term “public relations” might be relatively new, but the idea of shaping public opinion has been around for a long time. Edward Bernays, one of the pioneers of PR said, “The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people.”

In 50 B.C., Julius Caesar publicized his military exploits in the first known political campaign biography to convince the Romans that he would make the best head of state – a practice which is still used by political candidates today. Fast forward to 1776, when Thomas Paine published a pamphlet series to help fuel the American Revolution. Then, in the 1950s, the FBI published its most wanted list and has since captured 94 percent of these “most wanted” individuals.

People have been using PR to capture the public’s attention and spur them into action since the beginning of time (yes, I am suggesting that cavemen probably had some sort of PR campaigns). The channels have changed a bit here and there with the invention of the printing press, followed by the Internet and social media (can you imagine how the American Revolution would have been different had Twitter existed?), but the basic strategies and principles are the same.

When used properly, PR can be a strong tool for shaping the message of a company, organization, or idea and it’s not going anywhere soon. It is often said that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, but I would argue that PR has it beat!

By Nina Newhouse, Account Executive

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