Early Public Relations

‘Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing’ Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790

Public Relations is not a new concept or practice; it has been around in fact for many hundreds of years (Dennis et al. 2013). Public relations can be traced back to ancient civilisations of the Egyptians, Babylonians and the Greeks (Dennis et al. 2013).

Pharaoh’s accomplishments were written on stones in hieroglyphics as a way to publically exhibit and connect a Pharaoh with his subjects (Millmore, n.d). The Rosetta stone is the key for modern translation and understanding of the hieroglyphics (Dennis 2013). It is argued between historians that the practice of public relations became established first by Edward Bernays or Ivy Lee (Gunderman 2015). Edward Barneys ‘The father of public relations’ mostly ‘re-branded’ propaganda and by overcame ‘sales resistance’. Bernays constructed a display at the 1929 Easter parade, having fashionable young women post their ‘torches of freedom’ by encouraging cigarette smoking among women (Gunderman 2015). Campaigns like Bernays would be used today and commonly is like the Mardi gras supporting the LGBT society.

Ivy Lee was an expert in American publicity and the founder of modern public relations. Lee mainly used PR as more of a one-way propaganda for his clients and an alternate way to pioneer the recent press release through this. However, he was the first in history to introduce the term ‘public relations’ (IPR- public relations 2012).

Public relations is primarily about building a planned and sustainable understanding between an organisation or individual and their publics (Public Relations Institute of Australia 2016). PR is more than advertising because it can be a social institution that works to discard market limitations and raise efficiency with public’s resource to create more market participants (Xifra 2015). Pharoah’s, Barneys, and Lee were the earliest founders of PR even though PR is a significant part of History it differs from propaganda because it main aim isn’t to just spread an image but create a relationship with the publics


Dennis L. Wilcox, Glen T. Cameron, Bryan H. Reber, Jae-Hwa Shin (2013) THINK Public Relations

Gunderman, R. 2015, The manipulation of the American mind: Edward Bernays and the birth of public relations, viewed 28th March 2016, http://theconversation.com/the-manipulation-of-the-american-mind-edward-bernays-and-the-birth-of-public-relations-44393

Halff, G, & Gregory, A 2015, ‘What is public relations to society? Toward an economically informed understanding of public relations’, Public Relations Review, 41, 5, pp. 719-725

IPR- public relations. 2012, Public Relations through time, viewed 28th March 2016, http://www.ipr.org.uk/public-relations-through-time.html

Millmore, M. n.d. Mystery of the rosetta stone, viewed 28th March 2016, http://discoveringegypt.com/egyptian-video-documentaries/mystery-of-the-rosetta-stone

Public relations institute of Australia, 2016, About public relations, viewed 28th March 2015, http://www.pria.com.au/aboutus/what-is-public-relations/

Xifra, J, & Heath, R 2015, ‘Reputation, propaganda, and hegemony in Assyriology studies: A Gramscian view of public relations historiography’, Journal Of Public Relations Research, 27, 3, pp. 196-211, PsycINFO, EBSCOhost, viewed 28 March 2016.




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