From Press Transparency to The Founding Father


Public Relations is one of the field studies about human relations that concerns about achieving the vision through engaging the certain participants. On its progress, public relations have a quite long story of development and just like any other study, there is the person that is recognized as the pioneer of PR development. This Founding Father of Public Relations had done the revolutionary acts about how a public relation could actually bridging the internal-external issue of any agencies or institutions by doing the transparency.

Ivy Ledbetter Lee – The Founding Father of Public Relation

He is Ivy Ledbetter Lee, The Founding Father of Public Relations. Was born in 16th of July, 1877 at Cedartown, USA. He worked as a journalist at the various media companies, such as New York Times, New York American and New York World. Due to the minimum payment that he received, Lee and his partner, George Parker created the third public relation firm in the nations, named Parker & Lee in 1905 as both of them were working for the political campaigns of Democrat Party.

In every article or book that portrait the development of public relations study, we’ll find that the story will always begin with Ivy Lee who was successfully maintaining the image of all of the companies and agencies that he held.

The press transparency that he offered was becoming the revolutionary form of how the society’s trust can be collectedly back through the several press-approached such as press conference and press release. Yes, he is the one who invented the making of press release. He defeated the biggest fear of every companies, which was losing the brand values to the brand awareness by honestly telling the truth to all of the people.

Idealism of Press Transparency

He introduced the “Declaration of Principles” from one of his speeches as he was technically explaining how the new terms of press transparency would be started from his own public relations firm, Ivy Lee & Associates.

“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 carefully in verifying directly any statement of fact. … In brief, our plan is frankly, and openly, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply 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.”

One of his first cases was railway accident at Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1906. At this very moment, Lee made the first ever press release and tried to convinced that chronologies of the incident have to be published by the company, which was Pennsylvania Railroad, since the damage was experienced by so many people. Besides that, the aim to create the press release was to diminish the false information within the society that will worsen the situations and the image of the company.

Lee believed that the public deserved to know what just happened inside any kinds of institutions that is relatably has something to do with the public.

The Importance of Transparency

But then the questions are, is it the right thing to do for delivering the honest report about the institutions issue to the public? Why is it important to be friend with the media in information purposely matter, not merely in marketing matter?

I know people, that those questions can be easily answered as nowadays we’re doing it. But can you imagine that these questions were asked back to the days when ‘Declarations of Principles’ were offered? This is the reason why Ivy Lee was become the Founding Father of Public Relations since we understand that it is important to get the transparent information and it is important to be friend with the media.

Lee offered the new idea and wider the meaning of public relations itself. He formed the clear definition that it is important to maximize the “relations” with the “public” but firstly every institution and agency have to define their own public, then developing the forms of relations to be used.

Maybe Ivy Lee is not the first public relations practitioner in the world, he also is not the expert who can formulize the definition of public relations itself, but he is the one who can offer the best method to maintain the institutions by maintaining its engagement with its public and he is the one who can make words “public” and “relations” alive.


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