Public Relations has been around since the Roman Empire, slowly developing and evolving into what it is today. Every period in human history has unveiled another color of PR’s power and ability to persuade the masses. However, if there is one time in history that I wish I could have been alive, to experience the realm of PR it would have been, in America, in the 1800s. There was so much expectancy in the air. America was its own independent country; the west was still in the process of being settled; and the possibilities for the future were endless.
The challenge of persuasion was at its peak. There was no television, none of the forms of mass communication that we have today. It was conclusively up to witty men with a gift of the tongue, to convince whole audiences of the benefits that could be acquired, if they only trusted them. In some cases the arguments put forth would have been to influence people to move west, to venture far beyond the borders of anything they had ever known. Little in their past had prepared them for the trials and hardships they would encounter in their new world. It was a hard sell, to say the least.
Yet the challenges and goals of PR campaigns were not always such a hard sell. In this same era a new development in entertainment with performers like Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill, could draw audiences of hundreds; these new actors shocked and amazed spectators from all over the young nation. I guess that is why Public Relations in the 1800s interests me so much. With its many different components, it was a mix of tough challenges and easy wins. I can’t imagine a harder task than trying to convince whole families to move west; on the other hand to be part of promoting the only professional entertainment to come through a town that year, would be a pretty cool job. Each one would have its rewards.