A Brief History of Public Relations
In the 1920s, Edward Bernays and Ivy Lee coined the word “public relations” in America. Back then, PR was considered to be propaganda, as it was used to promote both sides of the First World War and other controversial efforts. During the second half of the 20th century, however, the concept of PR expanded as various principles were established and it developed into a legitimate profession. According to Wikipedia, “In the early 2000s, press release services began offering social media press releases. The Cluetrain Manifesto, which predicted the impact of social media in 1999, was controversial in its time. But by 2006, the effect of social media and new internet technologies became broadly accepted.”
PR’s Many Titles
PR has had many different titles since the turn of the century. To name a few: damage control, image/reputation management, publicity, and the most hated, “spin.” This a dated word that gives the profession a negative connotation, its roots stemming in PR’s past in propaganda. But this no longer aligns with PR’s role in society.
What Is “Spin?”
Spin (noun): a particular way of representing an event or situation to the public so that it will be understood in a way that you want it to be understood. –Cambridge Dictionary
AKA…a way to save face and alter a story in order to avoid a negative audience reaction.
Why PR Isn’t “Spin”
“Spin is too simple a term for the work PR practitioners do. Sure, they seek to influence, but also counsel, market, promote, and advocate for their brands and clients. Simply put, PR is much more than spin.”
In our current political climate, unfortunately, “the only time the average person sees a public relations professional is when they are advising a politician or celebrity or apologizing for a corporate screw-up.” (e-releases) But PR is so much more than that. It is brand development and building an image that showcases personality, values and talent. It is connecting with your audience and giving back to the organizations that improve our lives. It is remaining accountable, transparent and honest when something doesn’t go to plan. It is engaging users and producing excellent content. It is building lasting relationships.
Sp*n is a gross word. Let’s get rid of it for good.