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Public Relations is one of the oldest professions in world history. The modern history of public relations begins in the mid 1800 with a circus manager and entertainer called Barnum. It is said that Barnum was such a Master of Publicity and a Master of Showmanship, he promoted a European singer named Jenny Lind so successfully in the United States. Before she landed on the shores of America, she was a huge star selling out a stadium and nobody had even heard her sing a single note.

Barnum noticed the popularity of Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale”, during a European tour with Tom Thumb when her European career was at its peak. He was convinced that Lind`s reputation for morality and philanthropy could be used for advertising. So he convinced a Philadelphia clergyman that Lind would have a positive effect on American morale, and the clergyman lent him her last $6,000. The contract also gave Lind the option to retire from touring after 60 or 100 performances, in which case he would pay Barnum $50,000.

Realizing how much money Barnum would make from the tour, she insisted on a new contract signed by him on September 3, 1850. She decided to raise as much money as possible for her charity. The tour began with a concert at Castle Garden on 11 September 1850 and was a huge success, earning Burnham four times his investment. By early 1851, Lind had become displeased with Barnum’s relentless touring pitches, and she had exercised her contractual right to sever her relationship with Barnum. Lind has performed 93 concerts in the United States for Barnum, and although she has earned around $350,000, Barnum’s earnings are at least $500,000 (in 2021, it will be approximately valued at $16,286,000).

In 1901, the first Public Relations company was started in the United States of America called The Publicity Bureau. Started by three men, but the company only lasted for approximately 12 years, and what they have accomplished set a precedent for so many public relations companies that were to come which we can also use as an example for the future such as Edelman, Weber Shanwick, Manic Ogilvy, and many more.

History of Public Relations

The office of The Publicity Bureau as the first PR company in the US in 1901.

Today, Public Relations comprises so much more than just publicity, it also covers management, corporate reputation, client corporate reputation, and crisis communications. Not to forget, it includes social media and so many different facets of not only promotion but also reputation management. Nowadays, consumer lifestyle has a different discipline, for example, sports PR or automobile PR. There are so many different disciplines within public relations today and it continues to grow.

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