Massacres and Nazis – How a minister’s son invented PR

Massacres and Nazis - How a minister's son invented PR

The Ludlow Massacre, 1914

Ivy Lee issued what some consider the first press release for the Pennsylvania Railroad by openly giving information from the company to journalists. During World War I, he served as a PR director for the American Red Cross. In 1914, he represented the John D. Rockefeller Jr. company Standard Oil after the deaths of striking coal workers at the Ludlow Massacre. He also worked with the controversial Nazi German conglomerate I. G. Farben at the end of his life. He died in 1934. He publicly espoused this philosophy: "Tell the truth, because sooner or later the public will find out anyway. And if the public doesn’t like what you are doing, change your policies and bring them into line with what people want."

"This is not a secret press bureau. All our work is done in the open. We aim to supply news. This is not an advertising agency; if you think any of our matter ought properly to go to your business office, do not use it. Our matter is accurate. Further details on any subject treated will be supplied promptly, and any editor will be assisted most cheerfully in verifying directly any statement of fact. Upon inquiry, full information will be given to any editor concerning those on whose behalf an article is sent out. In brief, our plan is, frankly and openly, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply to the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subjects which it is of value and interest to the public to know about. Corporations and public institutions give out much information in which the news point is lost to view. Nevertheless, it is quite as important to the public to have this news as it is to the establishments themselves to give it currency. I send out only matter every detail of which I am willing to assist any editor in verifying for himself. I am always at your service for the purpose of enabling you to obtain more complete information concerning any of the subjects brought forward in my copy."

Declaration of Principles by public relations man Ivy Lee, 1906

"He pioneered the techniques, which translate into communicating directly to the public, through the media primarily, and what that means is news releases and advisories and press conferences and press tours and all of these things that are still done to this day. And also, most important, he pioneered the philosophy that you can’t have publicity without performance."

 – Fraser Seitel, American public relations consultant.

Interview about Ivy Lee with Fraser Seitel, author of The Practice of Public Relations, at CBC News>>

Ivy Lee entry at Wikipedia>>

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