Then & Now: The Evolution of Public Relations

Marketing Strategy
December 7, 2022

If you were to casually survey a group of people from various industries about what they think Public Relations pros do, you’ll get a lot of different responses. The PR profession is often misunderstood because our field has been constantly evolving since its “invention” in the early 1900’s. The Public Relations Society of America explains this well and provides an excellent definition that is widely accepted by PR practitioners today. For a very long time only select groups – often the rich, those in politics, business or clergy – were taught to read, write and have the means to disseminate content to a broad audience based on the technology available at the time. It wasn’t until 1918 that American children were required to attend at least elementary school; kind of shocking, isn’t it? Once most of society became literate and empowered to communicate through various media, businesses realized the value of Public Relations as part of the Communications function and the impact it could have on their organization’s ability to achieve its goals and objectives. However, in the early days, information, let alone storytelling, was heavily controlled, often by those with specific agendas. Thankfully, things have changed for the better, and those of us in the PR world gladly adopted and support a code of ethics. With the birth of the internet in the 1980’s, then the introduction of mobile devices in the 90’s and the advent and adoption of social media in the 2000’s – society hyper-accelerated into perhaps one of the most complex eras of modern Communication. While it is all very exciting, advances in technology have made it even more important than ever for Public Relations pros to keep refining our skillset; enter the dawn of data-driven storytelling. Today, the silos between PR, marketing and advertising have largely broken down in progressive organizations which is why Modera offers services across Branding, Marketing and Communications. PR pros often work in partnership with other communicators contributing to an integrated plan. The reality is, PR pros are:

  • Strategic business partners and counselors
  • Skilled writers and editors
  • Responsible stewards of information often working with the c-suite
  • Coaching and developing individuals and teams to communicate better
  • Have a deep understanding of human behavior to help influence and inspire action through effective communication
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders internally and externally
  • Earning the trust of the media (reporters, journalists, editors) to add value to their news stories
  • Leveraging written and visual mediums for creative and persuasive storytelling and thought leadership
  • Working alongside other business functions such as Corporate Citizenship, Human Resources, Sales and Operations to generate win-win outcomes
  • Agile and able to adapt quickly to evolving situations, and staying cool, calm and collected in times of crisis
  • Able to support Digital Transformation initiatives and support these efforts in their respective organizations
  • Creating high-impact experiences for audiences

I could go on about the important work PR pros do because it is my passion. As a champion of Modera’s services and PR leader for nearly two decades, I’d love to discuss how we can serve you in this area. You can reach me here: by Fiona Hamann.