The Unseen Power: Public Relations, a History

By Scott M. Cutlip | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
Harry Bruno: Aviation and Public Relations Pioneer

Harry Bruno, another of the innovative small band of public relations pioneers who opened offices in the post World War I era, demonstrated that a prime function of public relations is to win public acceptance of new ideas and new technology. Bruno not only pioneered in developing this field by maturing from brash press agent to successful counselor but by playing a major role in gaining acceptance of commercial aviation in the United States.

He was born in London, England, on February 7, 1893, the son of Henry and Annie Thompson Bruno. His early education was in a British public school, but this was interrupted for him when the father decided there was a better opportunity for him and his family in the United States. The father came to New York in 1905 and established a marine insurance office. In 1907, he returned to England to bring his wife and their two sons, Harry and Frank, to Montclair, New Jersey. When the young lads arrived here, America was still excited and amazed by the advent of powered flight. The Wright Brothers had made their first powered flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. Harry felt a responsibility for his younger brother after their parents died on the Lusitania, and they had a close personal relationship all their life, cemented by common interests in flying and in journalism. Frank, a newspaperman, died of cancer in 1933, when he was only 32.

Harry Bruno, only 12, was quickly caught up in this excitement, spurred by the almost daily headlines about these new-fangled, boxy flying machines; he gave his heart to flying. In time, this came to dominate his life and career. By the time the lad reached high school, he had become bored with school and much to his father's disappointment and displeasure, quit

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