Saluting Pioneers of PR
Public relations has a long and distinguished history, but it’s one that many people are unfamiliar with. Did you know, for example, that:
• Nearly 2,400 years ago, the brilliant Greek statesman and orator Demosthenes supplemented his income by ghostwriting speeches for wealthy and powerful clients.
• Thomas Paine, the “Father of the American Revolution” and a master of the art of persuasion, wrote The Crisis to inspire colonial resistance to the British. It actually helped convince the soldiers of Washington’s army to continue the fight for independence, despite the hardships of a winter campaign.
• The first press release was created by Ivy Lee on October 28, 1906, after a Pennsylvania Railroad train jumped the tracks, killing at least 50 people. Lee persuaded the company’s executives to openly disclose information in a carefully crafted public statement distributed directly to journalists. The New York Times was so impressed with this innovative approach to corporate communications that it printed the first press release — verbatim — as a "Statement from the Road." In the weeks that followed, both newspapers and public officials effusively praised Pennsylvania Railroad for its openness and honesty.
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