First Parker and Lee; Then Lee, Harris, and Lee
The third public relations agency organized in the Seedbed Era -- Parker & Lee -- had an even shorter life than the first two; it lasted less than 4 years, but the name of the junior partner, Ivy Ledbetter Lee, lives today as one of the influential pioneers who helped define and build a new vocation. Ivy Lee reappears in our chronicle as one of the influential builders of a new calling in the post World War I era. George Frederick Parker, veteran newsman and political publicist, and the younger Ivy Lee first met in the headquarters of the Democratic Party in 1904. In the Presidential campaign that year, they worked together, Parker in charge, in a futile effort to elect Judge Alton B. Parker, a conservative Democrat. They were up against the astute, colorful, publicity-minded Theodore Roosevelt who was riding the crest of the Progressive wave of reform. Roosevelt was a master publicist in his own right.
Sometime after the election in November, these two publicists formed a partnership called simply Parker & Lee. They rented an office at 20 Broad Street in the Postal Telegraph Building, adjacent to the Stock Exchange, in New York City. (The building was later razed to make room for an addition to the Exchange.) Lee's biographer, Ray Eldon Hiebert, said the firm was founded "late in 1904." Lee's obituary sketch, released by his firm on November 9, 1934, states he "began to engage in public relations in 1905." In January 1908, Editor & Publisher refers to the firm as having been started "a little more than three years ago."
The records conflict as to just how and when the Parker & Lee publicity agency was formed. Our research suggests that it was formed in late 1904 after the unsuccessful Presidential campaign. Alan Raucher, a respected