It is the most modern of concepts: an individual must offer himself to the public, pleading for their time, their favor. He is dependent on their whims, forced to rely on those who are notoriously fickle (and just as unforgiving). And because of this he seeks aid from experts – dedicated individuals who can help to redefine his image again and again, keep the masses intrigued. He must work hard to win their trust; but the efforts are proven worthy. He is successful.
He is also the product of public relations.
There is an assumption that public relations is a thoroughly new idea. Since the arrival of the virtual world, access to information has become a simple thing. A click of a button can offer a wealth of truths. Those truths must therefore be carefully monitored and anticipated. Individuals in this field are forced to counter all possible complications.
Those complications are not entirely current, however. They have instead existed throughout the centuries – branding this an ancient practice.
It has been found within the decades: the obscuring of scandals, the manipulation of the masses. This was familiar among king and courtiers, politicians. It was not given its present title, however, until World War I. During this time Edward Bernays (nephew of psychologist and revolutionary Sigmund Freud) realized that the spread of propaganda was becoming too vast – violent images and cruel facts were being offered to frighten all. There was confusion in the streets and no understanding of the United States and its role within the conflict.
Bernays chose then to create Public Relations: a committee dedicated to explaining the policies and triumphs of the country. It was this that began the experiment of press releases, publicity and more – and it is most associated with what we understand today.
Public relations is not a profession of the last few years. It’s instead scattered throughout history, with Bernays merely branding it common.