Key People and Events

Public Relations History


1800 B.C. -- Earliest example of educational materials, a farm bulletin produced in ancient Sumeria telling farmers how to grow crops

lst Century B.C. -- Romans coined the phrase Vox populi; vox Dei, "the voice of the people is the voice of God."

15th century A.D. -- A variety of handbills and broadsides were used to promote various causes in the decades following the invention of printing (1446).

1623 -- Pope Gregory XV created the College for Propagating the Faith, the first large-scale use of public relations, created by the Roman Catholic Church. Origin of the modern term propaganda.

1840s -- P.T. Barnum pioneered press agentry in U.S. by promoting local appearances by his touring circus.

1850s -- American railroads used publicity, advertising and printed materrials to attract tourists and settlers to the American West.

1889 -- First corporate public relations department established by Westinghouse.

1896 -- The use of modern publicity in political campaigns began with the presidential election between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan.

1900 -- The Publicity Bureau was organized in Boston as the nation's first publicity firm -- and forerunner of today's public relations agency.

1900s -- Corporations started to use a variety of techniques to promote positive relationships with customers. For example, Ford pioneered press product previews (1895) as well as auto racing (1903) as a means to promote its products. Chicago Edison was the first to use an external magazine (1903), films (1909), and stuffers inserted in customer bills (1912).

1906 -- Ivy Lee was hired to represent the industry in the anthracite coal strike. Lee issued his "Declaration of Principles," considered to be the birth of modern public relations counseling.

1916-18 -- The Committee on Public Information, headed by George Creel, promoted public support of American involvement in World War I.

1923 -- Edward L. Bernays published Crystalizing Public Opinion and popularized the term "public relations counsel." He also taught the first public relations course (at New York University).

1927 -- Arthur W. Page was named vice president-public relations at AT&T, accepting the job only if he were allowed to be involved in policy-making. Page would distinguish himself as the leading corporate practitioner of the century by emphasizing the importance of cooperation with the public and of disclosure about corporate activities.

1933 -- First political-campaign firm was established by Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter, who pioneered modern electioneering with several famous campaigns in California.

1945 -- The Advertising Council (formerly the War Advertising Council) was reorganized to create information campaigns on behalf of various social causes.


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Created August 1999