Public relations has been with us for thousands of years. The Greeks had a word for it: semantikos – to signify, to mean. Semantikos means semantics, which can be defined as how to get people to believe things and do things. If you studied a PR degree you’ll remember the theory well!
In 50 B.C. Julius Caesar wrote the first campaign biography, Caesar’s Gallic Wars. He publicized his military exploits to convince the Roman people that he would make the best head of state, a tactic that is used by those running for election to this day.
Public relations became a profession in 1903 as John D. Rockefeller, who owned coal mines, hired Ivy Lee to advise him on how to conduct his public relations.
Lee professionalized public relations by following these principles:
1. Tell the truth
2. Provide accurate facts
3. The public relations director must have access to top management and must be able to influence decisions
Principles that remain to this day.
In this video (linked to YouTube below) the Press Index looks back on the history of the industry from its origins to the present day. Discover the evolution of a professional practice from its original role as the politician’s mouthpiece to the consumer-centred approach of the social media age: