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Chapter 2: The History and Growth of Public Relations
Chapter 2 synopsizes the history of public relations – from the Sophists in Greece to the
early American experience to modern-day leaders. The study of public relations history is
important in explaining to students how and why this relatively new field came into being.
In addition, the chapter also talks about the pioneers in the field and what they contributed.
It’s important to indicate to students that while public relations antecedents stretch
back over time – as long as individuals tried to persuade others to adopt their cause – the
practice itself is very much a recent phenomenon. Ivy Lee assisting John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
at the turn of the last century arguably “founded” the modern practice of public relations.
The first public relations course was taught at New York University in 1923.
The point is that modern public relations practice is not yet even 100-years-old. Its
history is still being written. Its leaders, therefore, are those teaching -- and learning -- in
the practice as we speak. So the responsibility to help “build” this field lies with each of its
practitioners and students.
Fittingly, the subject of the From the Top interview in Chapter 2 is the late and
legendary public relations patriarch Edward L. Bernays.
Among topics discussed in Chapter 2 are:
Early American experience.
Later American experience.
Ivy Lee: The real father of modern public relations.
The growth of modern public relations.
Public relations comes of age.
Public relations education.
PR Ethics Mini-Case: The Pope’s Persuasive Public Relations Pilgrimage
Pope Benedict XVI has his hands full when he succeeded the popular John Paul II in the
middle of the 21st century.
First, he had