Public Relations: A History Subject?

The general public has always been open about its differing opinions, positive or negative, about public relations.  From spin doctors to liars, the world of public relations has endured it all.

Now, though, the world of PR is being studied as a history subject.  Who would have ever thought we would become an actual subject being taught to students?  In a recent BBC News article, Sean Coughlan, BBC news education correspondent, talks about Bournemouth University’s (considered the #1 UK university) upcoming international conference dedicated to the discussion of the history of public relations.

The conference will take place over the course of two days this coming July 2010 and will discuss such topics as: “Public Relations in Communist Hungary” and “Embracing the Embarrassing.”

Conference organizer, Tom Watson, notes that attending the conference is an opportunity for people to learn about the history of PR before the invention of press releases and media campaigns.  Attendees will be taught about the relationship between propoganda and public relations as well as the history of public relations in various countries. 

Watson points out that public relations has now become its own major industry, which is why this conference is being held.  At Bournemouth University alone, there are 262 public relations courses being offered. 

Key speakers at the conference will be Dr Karen Miller Russell and Dr Jacquie L’Etang, two leading historians of public relations. 

Dr. Russel will focus on “Embracing the Embarrassing” which talks about the unethical and “embarrassing” aspects of public relations.

With all the negative media attention public relations has withstood, do you believe this conference is a positive turnaround? Is this a step in the right direction to spread awareness of public relations and its intentions?

Or, do you believe this can potentially hurt the world of public relations even more by talking in-depth about the history of it and having people with varying opinions speak about the subject?

Is this bad publicity or good publicity?

This entry was posted in Thread Communications and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Public Relations: A History Subject?

  1. cwilusz says:

    I think this is a great step for public relations. You are right we have always have gotten the negative connotations of “spin doctors” and its great to see that people believe we are turning into our own industry. I think public relations will always be around and that is a neccessity for companies or people who need to create an image to the public. I think that this recognition will only be a good thing because people all over will now understand the world of public relations a little better.

    • kwashburn says:

      I agree that public relations will always be around and companies who are looking to promote their brand identity will always need a PR department. It is important for the public to understand the reasons behind pubic relations tactics and what we are trying to achieve, rather than having a negative connotation about the field. With this conference hopefully a large number of people will gain something from the speakers and learn something new about the field.

  2. cnaughton says:

    I agree that this conference will be a step in the right direction for the PR industry. The field has grown and expanded so rapidly with the advent of new technology that some of the history and basics have been lost in translation. This opportunity may also encourage others that are not PR professionals (maybe marketing or business professionals) to attend in an attempt to learn more about PR, how it can help them personally and professionally and what PR professionals do. Especially in an in-house setting, PR professionals often work with colleagues or clients that don’t have a full grasp on the PR industry.

    In all, this conference should be a humbling and educational experience and a great opportunity for PR pros everywhere.

    • kwashburn says:

      I agree that this conference would be very beneficial to attend if you were in the marketing field or business field. Many companies are unaware of the power and impact a public relations campaign can have on their brand identity and company as a whole. Perhaps a lot of companies will realize that they need a PR department or to restructure their public relations branch.

  3. kmcnally says:

    I like those above believe that this is a great step in the right direction for public relations. While many probably think that there isn’t a whole lot of history with PR, but there sure is. With the new advancements with social media and what not, there are so many traditional ways of PR that have got lost in the dust. Being a PR major, i have only learned the new ways of PR, i don’t know much about its past, therefore, this conference could be very beneficial to those like me, who don’t know everything there is to know about the history of PR. I mean what really was there before all the press releases, and social media? cold calling? I would definitely be interested in finding out. And i think that even though there are new forms of public relations, i don’t think that we should completely throw the traditional ways of PR out the window, because they may come in handy later on down the road, we will never know.

    I think that this conference will be beneficial for those who attend, and i think that it can really open some doors to the past in a positive way.

Comments are closed.