I’m thrilled to see that Dr. Karen Miller Russell has made available online one of my favorite articles, “U.S. Public Relations History: Knowledge and Limitations“!
With this, my modest role in the PR history is secured, and I can get back to work :)
Karen, please let me know if you have any project I can help with. All I’m asking :) is a follow-up to your article, “Public Relations in Film and Fiction: 1930 to 1995.” (Anyone who was shocked, shocked to see/read CBS’s Andrew Cohen’s take on the PR industry should read this article, available online -see the link below- via a USC Annenberg’s project, The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture.)
If you are a PR student or practitioner, do yourself a favor: download both articles, and read them; they’re well worth your time.
Karen S. Miller (2000)
U.S. Public Relations History: Knowledge and Limitations (PDF)
In Michael E. Roloff (Ed.), Communication Yearbook, vol. 23 (pp. 381-420), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication
This analysis of the literature on public relations history indicates that the field has been dominated by a business history approach. Most scholars have studied public relations in its corporate context, and most have utilized business history’s dominant paradigm, which calls for a general theory of PR history based on the review of a large number of case histories. But the business history frame is both flawed and inadequate for a complete understanding of public relations history. Political and social histories show that public relations was emerging and apparently would have emerged even if big business had not. In reality, these histories are intertwined. No single strand of PR history can be understood except in relation to the others, and none should be given a privileged position in public relations historiography.
Karen S. Miller (1999)
Public relations in film and fiction, 1930 to 1995 (PDF)
Journal of Public Relations Research 11 (1), 3-28
In this article, I examine depictions of PR and its practitioners in film and fiction in the United States from 1930 to 1995. The analysis indicates the representations of PR are woefully inadequate in terms of explaining who practitioners are and what they do, and it shows that writers dislike PR’s apparent effectiveness. Perhaps most significant is the extent to which the portrayals have remained the same over many decades. This study reveals misconceptions about and stereotypes of PR that are relayed to the public through the media, setting the stage for scholarship on what members of the general public think, for the enduring quality of representations suggests that the media may well have cultivated negative attitudes toward PR and its practitioners.