Ivy Lee

A recent article in The Economist turned its attention to the history of public relations.

“Rise of the Image Men” takes a look at Ivy Lee, Edward Bernays, and some early PR work. The picture of the “image men” that the article paints isn’t pretty.

“The effort to state an absolute fact is simply an attempt to give you my interpretation of the facts,” the article quotes Lee.

The article also discusses some of the work the industry has done for questionable or downright despicable clients, such as both sides of the 1960s Nigerian Biafra war and governments “with poor human-rights records.” On more current topics, the article touches on social media.

The PRSA and members of the PR industry, of course, have a response to this story.

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