23 May Public Relations Company
The History Of The Typical Public Relations Company
In the world of PR, everything is now, now, now. PR teams work around the clock to secure their clients coverage and exposure in leading media publications of various kinds. If they’re not doing this, they’re working on strategy to improve their chances of landing successful stories for the future. Very rarely in the world of PR do we look backwards. But here at our public relations company, VerriBerri, we think it might be time to. Not only does PR have a fascinating, albeit relatively short history – at least, short in the form we know it; but in looking to the past we can invariably learn about how to make better progress moving forward. Read on!
The Inception Of PR
Although it may not have been recognised as the kind of PR we’re familiar with today, PR has remarkably ancient roots. Antiquities from the ancient Persian, Egyptian, Babylonian and Greek kingdoms all indicate populations that, in some form or another, looked to persuade their population to see their viewpoint favourably. This viewpoint, incidentally, tended to be the leaders demonstrating why exactly they were the ones who should rule – usually some divine right of one sort or another. Famous Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato all used the power of speech and rhetoric to persuade people around to their viewpoints. This, in reality, is no different from a public relations company pitching on behalf of a brand explaining why their product is superior to all the others!
The Twentieth Century
In the 20th century we began to see a discipline more akin to what we’d perhaps describe PR as in today’s world. It involved one man in particular who came to be seen as the pioneer of PR. A man who was listed as one of the United States’ most influential 20th century figures. This man was Edward Bernays. Bernays worked for a number of noteworthy US corporations such as General Electric and Proctor & Gamble, as well as for politicians and government organisations. He developed the three founding pillars of public relations as they’ve come to be known. These are: informing people, persuading people and integrating people with people. Bernays saw PR as a science as much as anything else. It was this analytical, scientific approach was one of the reasons PR began to gain increasing popularity through the early part of the 20th century.
PR then saw its widespread usage in the form of wartime propaganda. We all recognise the poster of General Kitchener pointing out of the page with the phrase ‘Your Country Needs You’ emblazoned all over it. On the other, more sinister end of the spectrum was Hitler and his Nazi party using ‘Mein Kampf’ as their very own nefarious piece of PR. Post-war and we started to see the rise of the public relations company as its own distinct entity rather than a discipline on the fringes of society.
As we drew towards the turn of the 21st century we saw the internet increasingly coming to the fore. Newspapers, whilst still the dominant force, saw a new opponent in online articles. Then came social media, and before you know it we’re at present day. PR today comes in many forms; there’s still the traditional print media publications – tabloids, the broadsheets and renowned magazines. But there’s also websites, bloggers and influencers, social media platforms and the prevalence of search engine optimisation (SEO) in a business’ success.
Ultimately, a good public relations company is one that utilises all branches of PR into one well-rounded whole. The analogue can still augment the digital and vice versa, the old isn’t defunct and nor is the modern way the sole way.
Events That Changed PR
So, then, what are some of the key moments in the history of PR that have majorly changed the discipline? Well, we’ve put together a little timeline highlighting the crucial events in time that made PR what it is today.
- The invention of the Gutenberg press. Back in 1440, a man from Germany named Johannes Gutenberg pioneered humanity’s first ever printing press. Without this, we’d not have had any kind of print publication and it is these publications – newspapers, books and magazines – that paved the way for PR to become the discipline it is today.
- The invention of the radio. A fiercely intelligent Italian named Marconi came up with his now world-famous radio at the end of the 19th century. Radio paved the way for other forms of mass media such as television. Advertising, which could be said to be PR’s twin sibling, really found its feet and took off thanks to radio and television. It gave PR a platform.
- The advent of social media. We’ve talked about the digital revolution of PR, and social media is very much at the forefront of that. It has opened up a whole new swathe of PR potential, affording clients the opportunity to gain exposure in a whole new different and interactive way.
These are, of course, but a select few of the cultural stepping stones that have aided in the shaping of PR into the behemoth that it is today. Without them, agencies wouldn’t look like they would now. Scratch that, without them PR agencies wouldn’t exist full stop.
It may have had different iterations, and it may have modernised massively over recent years, but the foundations of what comprises PR remain very much the same. It’s all about people. It’s about tapping into what makes human beings tick and that can prove to be a very powerful discipline indeed. The way the world of media works is a far cry from how it looked during the time of PR’s inception, but many of the themes from that time are certainly still applicable now. So, if you’d like to find out more about our public relations company, then get in touch! Contact VerriBerri today on 01376 386 850. We would love to delve deeper down into what it is about your business that’s going to take the world by storm!