The Hamilton Wright Organization -- The First International Agency
The need for foreign governments to explain themselves and to promote trade and tourism in the United States became apparent shortly after the turn of the century when America shed its isolationism and moved onto the world stage in the wake of the Spanish-American War. These needs have intensified through the 20th century as nations grew more interdependent, and a fiercely competitive world economy emerged. These needs have been met and are being met by a proliferation of public relations professionals specializing in the representation of foreign governments and serving variously the roles of promoters, propagandists, and lobbyists.
The stakes involved in this representation are high and often crucial for a South Africa under public opinion siege in the United States for its apartheid policies, for a Canada seeking to gain U.S. cooperation in solving the acid rain problem, or for an Angolan rebel leader seeking U.S. arms.
Despite the important political role these public relations specialists play in our nation's foreign affairs through their provision of information to the news media and their lobbying in Congress, they rarely come under press or Congressional scrutiny. For example, in the decades that followed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings in 1963, the American public was given little public knowledge of these agents as they disseminated foreign propaganda for public consumption.
This public relations representation of foreign governments and foreign interests (e.g., the sugar lobby) first came to public notice in the 1930s when Hitler's Nazi government used two well-known public relations firms as well as its own agents to moderate the hostility being bred by Germany's racial and military policies. These firms were Carl Byoir & Associates, which took