Historical and Contemporary Figures in Public Relations Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 21 September 2016

Historical and Contemporary Figures in Public Relations

Over the years, key figures in public relations have contributed to its shaping through intrinsic criticism, major additions and re-evaluation that has seen latter applications being highly effective in creating cohesion and ultimate higher productivity and sustainability in the society.  Notably, the concept of public relations dates back to eighteenth century, however, many authors appear to limit their focus only from early 20th century.  This essay provides a holistic evaluation of key figures that have made key contribution to the field of public relations and application of their considerations in the field.

(a) Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

Georgiana Cavendish is perhaps the earliest person in the consideration of public relations as a principle.  At this point in time, late 18th century, it is worth noting that the concept of public relations was very primitive and indeed very vague to the proprietors.  In her campaign for Charles James Fox, Amada (2001) reports that Georgiana employed lobbying and celebrity campaigns that made his preference win though with a very small margin.  Through lobbying, Georgiana was able to appeal to the public and win their hearts to accept her mode of thinking and instilled special focus to them.  Notably, the concept of lobbying was used as the baseline for latter public relations leveraging, but celebrity considerations has constantly ebbed out.

(b) Ivy Lee

As Rodgers (2010) conclusion and Oyvind, Magnus and Betteke (2009) views indicate Lee is one of the earlier figures who made critical landmarks in the history of public relations.  Lee combined religious doctrines in his journalist career to weave the concept of communication during crisis.  By emphasizing on crisis communication, Lee argued that Authenticity, interest and accuracy must be employed to maintain the needed loyalty and provide an effective platform for resilience.  Application of this principle is to date one of the most effective both in political realms and organization management.  In the year 1982, the Tylenol Crisis in Chicago was perhaps the largest of its kind leading to 12 deaths, massive hospitalizations and indeed a quagmire at Johnson and Johnson Company (Krishnamurthy and Sandra, 2009).

However, by maintaining a critical and accurate communication through immediate response to related issues, guiding citizens on measures to take and providing alternative medicine to the tampered Tylenol Capsules, both the administration and citizens were able to remain loyal to the company.  The company easily rebound back the following year and made massive profits to compensate prior losses. Following the 2001 New York World Trade Center terrorist attack, Oyvind et al (2009) explain that constant communication created no room for speculation and therefore generated a large room for faster spring-back of the government and people.

(c) Harold Lasswell

Lasswell ‘s input to public relations has often attracted great criticism especially from Ethical Theorists who argue that he was wrong in deriving the concept of political propaganda.  Jacquie and Magda (2006) explain that as a major liberalist, Laswell postulated that democracies require propaganda in maintenance of their followers’ (citizens) views that the political elite was out on their best interest.  In his famous saying, “politics is who gets what, when, and how”, he emphasizes on the need for sidelining political dogmatism on people as best judges on their own interests (Jacquie, 2007).  This concept was especially evident in the World War I and II.

In World War II, Robert, Elizabeth and Damion (2009) and Jane and Clara (2009) report that , United States government sought to win public support by portraying Germans and Japanese as highly inhumane, demonic and a force to be resisted at all costs.  However modern-day propaganda has edged a notch higher as freedom of expression is largely checked to avoid giving any party undue added advantage over the other.   In the recent 2007 United States presidential General Elections, both nominations and the main campaigns saw Barrack Obama depicted as highly unqualified individual from his inexperience and most importantly for being black (Oyvind et al, 2009). McCain campaigners sought to create the sense that United States was not ready for a black President.

(d) Edward Luis Barneys

Perhaps Barney’s great reference and therefore influence sprang from link to his uncle, Sigmund Freud who made immense contribution to the field of psychology.  Barneys sought to take the ideology of propaganda much higher by indicating the need to manipulate public opinions as a third part authority, after leaders and public, in winning the hearts of the masses (Molloney, 2006).  For instance, in order to win the market for bacon, a survey of physicians and reporting their recommendations for heavy breakfast leads to increased conviction and ultimate higher sales.  This concept has indeed been greatly amplified as public opinions are used both in the commercial and political setting.  Manipulation of pubic opinion is used as a reference point in winning undecided minds and convincing opponents to change their minds on specific issues.  In the 2007 United States presidential elections, public opinions created a massive shift of citizens from supporting John McCain to being Obama’s advocates (Rodgers, 2010).  However, it is worth noting that present day propagandas are done with greater levels of precision and manipulation must be done carefully as people have become more enlightened and critical.

(e) Arthur W. Page

While working in a communications Company, Rodgers (2010) explains that Page found the critical role that liaison with consumers play in maintaining loyalty and a competitive advantage in the market.  His argument therefore deviated from the former Public Relations icons, as he called for initiation of integrity and honesty based relations in winning masses hearts.  In this case, Page established the famous seven Public Relations principles which appear to take the center stage in all fields.  These principles include, telling the truth and proving it with respective actions, listening and reasoning with customers, managing tomorrow, effecting public relations as the main entity in a company, establishing the true company’s culture/ character, and remaining calm (Porter, 2010). These principles draw consumer closer, emphasizes on his/her value and centers their preferences in leveraging higher profitability.

Jane and Clara (2009) reports that Public Relations has rapidly changed and drifted towards Page’s principles over the contemporary past and indeed presently.  At Toyota motors Company, constant research seeks people’s views on speed, comfort, performance and fuel economy. The president of Toyota Company indicated that it was effective public relations anchored on giving consumers what they wanted and communicating to them effectively that led to the company’s hybrid vehicles capturing the largest market share in the united states during the year 2007(Porter, 2010). In a different example, Oyvind  et al (2009) report that Southwest Airlines Company effective ties with consumers through constant true depiction of the company and its low cost model managed to easily convince them to continue using it during the crisis period after September 11 Terrorist Attack in New York. Jerry and Darrell (2009) note that while other air companies were cancelling flights and making major losses, Southwest Airlines maintained its profitability throughout the low season.

(f) Doctor Kevin Moloney

As indicated earlier, the field of Public Relations has gone through constant changes that reflect a highly dynamic society.  In his contribution which reflects one of the latest contributions in the field of Public Relations, Kevin Moloney brings out three key factors that shape public relations.  First he indicates that Public Relations should be viewed as a as a form of propaganda that flourishes in democracies and that has great connection to journalism. In this case, he carries forward the consideration of communication and need for centering on the people’s preferences in winning their hearts (Rodgers, 2010).

Furthermore, he underscores the notion of culture which must be cultivated in creating the needed persuasion in maintaining the necessary loyalty and support of the people. As Arthur Page had noted earlier, people must be made to identify with ideologies, organizations and respective individuals who seek to lead them.  This is reflected in the recent President Obama’s trial to win the Gulf of Mexico’s residents by constantly going there communicating the progress in addressing the disaster and emphasis to restore the ecological sanctity of the whole region.


It is from the above discussion that this paper concludes by supporting the thesis statement, ‘over the years, key figures in public relations have contributed to its shaping through intrinsic criticism, major additions and re-evaluation that has seen latter applications being highly effective in creating cohesion and ultimate higher productivity and sustainability in the society.’ It came out from the discussion that pubic analysis is a continuously evolving discipline with high applicability at all levels.  Though it appears to have centered largely on the political arena during the historic priod, its role in creating cohesion has broadened vastly to all fields especially at the management level. It is therefore crucial that people at all levels embrace Public relations to create a more productive and cohesive society.

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