PR History

In class this week, we had to educate each other on the different “era’s” of Public Relations. This was quite interesting because it made the reading material really hit home. We learned about the formation of Public Relations as a career field, the growing trends of the field, and the new generation of Public Relations practitioners and tools available.

I was not too surprised about the inception of the field, but what I did find suprising was the issue of  “positive recall.” In this excerpt, Johnson and Johnson/ Tylenol had to recall their Tylenol product because it was killing people. This recall should’ve spelled disaster for the company, but it actually worked out to be beneficial. They restructured the packaging and made it tamper-proof to ensure a quality product.

Another thing that I learned was that the move to the “Wild Wild West” was actually a PR ploy. The actual term Public Relations was first used by the Association of American Railroads. Andy Piasecki, a lecturer at Queen Margaret University College said, “During the 1870’s and the 1880’s, the railroads attracted something like 4.5 million people to the Midwestern states, and they were responsible for the establishment there of almost 2 million farms. None of this could have been achieved without complex communication strategies closely linked to the business objectives…” Public Relations!!

Another point of interest to me is the Four Classic Models of Public Relations. This really just illustrated to me the growth of the field. We started with the Press Agentry/Publicity model that was a one-way communication model and we gravitated towards the two-way Symmetric model with the purpose of gaining mutual understanding and balanced communication.

This just proves that this field is ever evolving and not so steeped in tradition that it can not change with the times.

-John Q.

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