It has been awhile since we did a “what is” Wednesday post. Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I caught a status update from The Museum of Public Relations. The Museum is a 501(c)(3) educational institution chartered by the New York State Board of Regents to serve the world's growing community of public relations students, educators, researchers and practitioners. Founded in 1997, the museum is considered the field’s primary repository for documents covering the evolution of the field over the last century. It is considered the world’s largest collection of materials documenting PR history.
Recently they posted a link to one of the first brochures PRSA produced to help clarify what public relations was at the time. Business leaders took the time to answer the question “how do you describe public relations?” This was 1948 and was one of PRSA’s first efforts to create a definition that the industry could agree on. And here we are nearly 70 years later and we’re still trying to create a definition that the industry can agree on.
This business-card sized piece was used by early PRSA members of the society to hand out at business meetings. You can read the text here, but here are a few of my favorites:
“Public relations is the result of our actions on others and others’ action on us.” -- Ray B. Wiser
“Public relations is the art of analyzing, influencing and interpreting a person, idea, group or business so that its behavior will conform with the public interest.” – Reginald Clough, Tide Magazine
“Public relations must be a philosophy of management that correlates every policy and action of an organization with the public interest.” – Phil D. Holle
“Public relations is the science of building and maintaining a worthy reputation.” – Roy G. Waggener
“Every action created that causes a favorable reaction toward a person, a group, or a company is good public relations.” – Frank H. Burns, Forbes Magazine