Top 10 Pioneers of Public Relations

Public relations is said to be the profession of first movers. More often than not, the first movers’ campaigns set the agenda, pave the way and provide the lead. Followers keep following. Here, we intend to talk about not the first movers in the profession but of the profession. The legendary PR masters who laid the foundation of the art and science of public relations. Salute!

  • The term ‘public relations’ was first used by Dorman Eaton in the year 1882 while he was addressing Yale Law School graduates on ‘The Public Relations and Duties of the Legal Profession.’ The attorney used the term to refer to an organization’s role in servicing the public welfare.
  • The first magazine article about public relations – What Is Publicity? – was written by HS Adams in 1902 and was published by American Review.
  • Public Relations News – the first periodical to report on public relations was founded by Denora ‘Denny’ Griswold.
  • Public Opinion – the first book focused on the role of the media and public relations was written by Walter Lippmann in 1922. Walter was a newspaper reporter and columnist. His book is credited with helping recognise PR as a profession.
  • Ivy Ledbetter Lee distinguished himself as the first public relations counsellor. He had been a journalist and publicist before that. Lee along with Edward Bernays is recognised as one of the founding fathers of modern day PR. Lee is known for his 1906 ‘Declaration of Principles’ which called for honesty with the press and public.
  • The first public relations agency for political campaign management was founded by Leone Baxter and her husband Clem Whitaker in 1933. They handled campaigns for several California governors and for President Eisenhower. Eventually Ms. Baxter became head of the agency, Whitaker and Baxter International.
  • The US president Theodore Roosevelt is considered to be the first politician to extensively use public relations techniques of news conferences and interviews. He saw the White House as a ‘bully pulpit’ with much potential for publicity and advocacy.
  • The first person hired by a corporation to take care of public relations was Charles J Smith. Mutual Life Insurance Company hired him in 1899 to write news releases for the company and improve its image.
  • George Westinghouse established the first corporate in-house public relations department in 1889. It was the same department that was charged with promoting Westinghouse’s alternating current against the direct current of Edison General Electric Company. The department was headed by journalist EH Heinrichs.
  • The first woman that was named associate press secretary to the president of USA was Anne Williams Wheaton. She joined the team of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957. Her appointment is said to bring to lime light the growing role of women in public relations.
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Reputation Today is India’s only print magazine for Public Relations and Corporate Communications professionals. It is the official magazine of PRAXIS - India’s largest offsite summit for Public Relations and Corporate Communications.

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