The Unseen Power: Public Relations, a History

By Scott M. Cutlip | Go to book overview
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number of practitioners. There was the organization of new professional associations, including establishment of the Public Relations Society of America, born in 1948 out of the merger of the New York-based National Association of Public Relations Counsels and the West Coast-based American Council on Public Relations that had been founded earlier by another pioneer, Rex Harlow. Public Relations education in the nation's colleges and universities spread rapidly. In 1946, there were only 26 institutions offering public relations instruction, by 1964, some 300 had courses in the subject, and 14 offered bachelor degrees in public relations, another 29 had sequences, most of which were accredited by the American Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

The Public Relations News ( 1944), the PR Reporter ( 1958), and the Public Relations Journal chronicled and promoted this wide expansion of the practice. Rex Harlow started the Public Relations Journal in 1945 as the publication of the council, later to be merged into PRSA. The Washington DC-based American Public Relations was merged into PRSA in 1961, and its PR Quarterly was taken over by its then editor Howard Penn Hudson.

This period also brought the introduction of the paid publicity wire, an innovation of Herbert Muschel in 1954. An international network of these publicity wires and fax machines now give public relations offices instant access to newsrooms around the world. These wires, in effect, constitute another major worldwide news service, only in this case the sponsor not the news organization foots the bill. and motorboating, or in the more socially responsible business leadership that emerged after World War II. Generally the public moves along unaware of the influence of the practitioner.


To understand the context of public relations' history in the Depression era and beyond, we suggest the books and articles that follow.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Age of Roosevelt, Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1957, especially The Crisis of the Old Order, the first volume in this history of the New Deal; David A. Shannon, The Great Depression, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1960; Charles Michelson, The Ghost Talks, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1944, memoirs of Democratic publicist; Arthur B. Rollins Jr., Roosevelt and Howe, Knopf, 1962, biography of Louis McHenry Howe, who served as FDR's mentor from 1912 until his death in 1936; Allen M. Winkler, The Politics of Propaganda; The Office of War Information 1942-45, Yale University Press, 1978; Elmer Davis, "The Office of War Information, 13 June 1942-13 September, 1945, Report to the President," in JournalismMonographs


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