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Advertising and Public Relations in the United States

Essay by review  •  July 8, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,812 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,048 Views

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From their beginning, advertising and public relations has played a major roll in the advancement of the major forms of mass communications. Each has influenced printing, radio, television and cable, and the internet in various ways. If it were not for advertising and public relations, these forms of communication may not be what they are today.

The origin of advertising extends to around three thousand years before Christ. While the advertising in this time was very simple, merely outdoor signs made of wood or stone hung outside merchant shops, it was effective in helping business owners attract customers (Campbell 2007 p. 385). Early Egyptians had criers go through town announcing things and in Pompeii, archeologists discovered advertising messages painted on walls (Campbell 2007 p. 385). Early media ads consisted of various posters, handbills and printed brochures. These posters, handbills and printed brochures were developed and were being distributed as early as the 1470s (Campbell 2007 p. 385). In the United States, there was not much advertising or need for advertising until the 1830s. In the 1850s, nationally advertising became more popular as railroads began to link towns across the country (Campbell 2007 p. 385). The first advertising agencies, known as newspaper space brokers, began selling advertising spaces in the newspapers and eventually, the first advertising agency was formed in 1841 in Boston (Campbell 2007 p. 386). These first advertising agencies actually worked for the newspaper, selling ad spaces and earning a commission (Campbell 2007 p. 386). The first ad agency to work for the advertiser, as modern ad agencies do, opened in Philadelphia in 1875 and created, wrote, produced and placed the ads for the advertiser (Campbell 2007 p. 386). Today, most advertising agencies still work the same way.

While advertising was becoming ever so popular among companies, public relations was just getting started. It was in the 1800s when John Burke, one of the first public relations agents, began using a variety of media channels to promote the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders” traveling show (Campbell 2007 p. 427). By using promotional newspaper stories, magazine articles and ads, theater marquees, dime novels, poster art and early films, Burke helped to soar the traveling show to be “seen by more than fifty million people in a thousand cities in twelve countries” (Campbell 2007 p. 427). Also in the 1800s, the railroad companies employed agents to help promote and win favor in the public’s opinion (Campbell 2007 p. 427). These agents helped the railroads to obtain government support through various forms of early publicity tactics. These agents encouraged favorable newspaper stories by bribing reporters to write stories that glorified the railroad (Campbell 2007 p. 427). Modern public relations can be attributed to two people, Ivy Ledbetter Lee and Edward Bernays. Lee was able to consult companies that honesty and directness produced more than any deceptive advertising campaign or practices (Campbell 2007 pp. 428-429). He was instrumental in the public relations of the Rockefeller and Standard Oil during the time that Rockefeller was dealing with violent strikes during union organizing (Campbell 2007 pp. 428-429). Lee distributed information and fact sheets about the company which helped improve the company’s image and also help quiet the union (Campbell 2007 pp. 428-429). Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, built upon Ivy Lee’s public relations by being the first to apply psychology and sociology to public relations (Campbell 2007 pp. 429-430). Bernays was also the first to teach public relations at New York University as well as writing the first public relations text book called Crystallizing Public Opinion (Campbell 2007 pp. 429-430). Bernays worked on many public relations campaigns, including helping to improve President Woodrow Wilson’s image as a peacemaker and to help the American Tobacco Company broaden their customer base in women, leading to men-only smoking rooms opening to women (Campbell 2007 pp. 429-430).

Both advertising and public relations had major effects on the Unites States culture as a whole. Advertising helped to created brand name recognition and contributed to major social changes in the United States (Campbell 2007 pp. 387, 388). Advertising first helped to produce a consumer-driven society, allowing the consumers to dictate what they wanted (Campbell 2007 p. 388). Advertising also helped promote technological advances, allowing consumers to see how new machines worked (Campbell 2007 p. 389). Lastly, advertising helped economic growth by increasing demand and allowing manufacturers to create products in mass quantities, thus lowering their costs and increasing revenue (Campbell 2007 p. 389). Public relations helped to change the relationship between companies and consumers. Public relations allowed the consumers to see what the companies were doing as a company instead of just marketing the company’s products. Public relations agents and managers try to secure favorable media coverage (Campbell 2007 p. 435).

The early developments of advertising and public relations have been influence by numerous factors. The major factor, however, that influences advertising and public relations is the government and government regulation. The federal government created the Federal Trade Commission in 1914 to help monitor advertising abuses (Campbell 2007 p. 391). The advertising industry, itself, also created the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 1917 that urged ad agencies to no make any type of misleading product claims (Campbell 2007 p. 391). While public relations is not regulated by any government agency, the public relations department of large companies like to ensure that government regulations do not become over powering or reduce the company’s control of their business (Campbell 2007 p. 441). Many companies have developed their own regulatory practices and also monitor and follow any government legislation, both new and existing (Campbell 2007 p. 441).

Advertising and public relations fall hand-in-hand with most all forms of media, though this is not always the case. It is fairly obvious that advertising falls directly inline with newspaper, magazines, radio, television and cable, and the internet. One cannot view or listen to any of these forms of media without seeing advertising. Opening a newspaper or magazine reveals advertisements immediately. Tuning to a particular radio, television or cable station or viewing information on the internet, one is continually bombarded with advertisements. These media outlets obtain much of their operating revenue from advertisers who pay to place their advertisements with



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