Thursday, 13 June 2013

PR and Publicity - history's feedback

In earlier blogs, I have argued that PR (in its strategic/organisational form) should be separated from publicity. It may not be a fashionable view but going back into the history of public relations, early practitioners saw a clear separation.

In 1942 (yes, 70 years ago), Herbert M. Baus wrote of public relations that “it involves all the dealings of an enterprise with the public. More limited, publicity involves placing of information before the public through established channels.”
“Public relations is becoming an established domain of business activity … as a career, public relations is one of the most reputable.”

Shortly after in 1948 Glen and Denny Griswold, who was the doyenne of US public relations, commented: “Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or organization with public interest, and executes the program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”

So what happened to public relations’ standing as a valued management function? With the rise in consumer marketing in the mid-century, publicity was rebranded as PR.
British historian Jacquie L’Etang writing of the 1960s says: “business managers saw public relations as a cheap way of getting media coverage in comparison with advertising.”
And that’s the way PR remains for many – “a cheap way of getting media coverage”.

Baus, H. M. (1942). Publicity – How to plan, produce and place it. New York: Harper & Brothers
Griswold, G. and Griswold, D. (1948). Your public relations. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

L’Etang, J. (2004). Public relations in Britain. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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