Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ivy Lee and What Makes Public Relations So Stressful

On Flack Me, Jeannine Wheeler profiles the man who started it all for PR people, Ivy Lee:
"Tell the truth," he said, "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.”
Apparently, this was groundbreaking advice back in the early decades of the 20th century, and Lee became very wealthy counseling some of the most famous industrialists of the time. Famously, he came under fire from Upton Sinclair while representing the Rockefellers during the Ludlow Massacre of 1914-15 in Colorado.

It's this contradiction--using the values your mother taught you to help people involved in dubious activities (to put it charitably) come away looking good to their constituents and the public--that makes public relations among the most stressful jobs around.