The Origins of PR

By: Amanda Moline @mandamoline

prFor many of us in ImPRessions and PRSSA here at Ohio University, PR is life. If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, #PRlove is the hashtag that has appeared on most of our Twitter feeds and bios at some point in time. We live, breathe and tweet PR, but where exactly did it originate?

In 2,200 B.C.E., an Egyptian pharaoh had an advisor that acted as a medium between the pharaoh and the people, providing truthful facts and communicating with the pharaoh’s people on his behalf. Even back in Ancient Greece, they had a word for our beloved PR, and that was sematikos, meaning to signify or mean. Julius Caesar even dabbled in the PR field with his work Caesar’s Gallic, in which he publicized himself to the Roman people as the best candidate for the head of state by highlighting his many military accomplishments.

If you think back to your high school American History class, you might remember Thomas Paine. Paine was a true public relations genius, as many of his writings. His pamphlet “The Crisis,” changed the way people viewed certain topics in the early history of America, and even evoked action from early Americans.

Have you ever wondered when the first press release was published? Surprisingly, it wasn’t what is now considered the world’s most famous press release, our country’s very own Declaration of Independence. King’s College, now known as Columbia University, dubbed the first press release in 1758 in order to inform the public about the specifics of its graduation ceremony.

Public relations became an “official” profession back in 1903 when Ivy Lee became Rockefeller’s go-to guy to clear up his image while many of the miners working at his coal mines were on strike. Lee created specific principles of public relations to make the field more professional, which included always telling the truth and giving the people accurate facts.

According to Stuart Ewen, “The history of PR is a history of a battle for what is reality and how people will see and understand reality.” Though the field of public relations is ever-changing with the rise technology, the idea behind public relations has been embedded in our history for thousands of years and is a crucial way of spreading information and ideas. So don’t fret, my fellow ImPRession-ers – the world of public relations is here to st

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