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The National Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices series is the first to offer an authentic world-wide view of the history of public relations. It will feature six books, five of which will cover continental and regional groups. This book in the series focuses on Western Europe.




Western European Perspectives on the Development of Public Relations: Other Voices is the fifth volume in this series of six books on national histories of public relations (PR). The 13 nations that comprise the ten chapters range from Finland and Scandinavia in the north to Greece, Italy, France and Spain on the Mediterranean rim. In two chapters — Netherlands and Belgium (Chapter 7), and Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway and Denmark; Chapter 8) — regional groupings were created for linguistic and historical reasons.
Tom Watson

1. Austria

The development of public relations (PR) in Austria since 1945, across three phases, is reported and analyzed in this chapter. The first phase outlines key dates and the development of PR practice during the period of the ‘Occupying Powers’ from 1945 to 1955; the second refers to the period of the ‘economic miracle’ after 1955; and the third highlights the period from 1983 to the present, in which PR slowly became apparent in the field of communication science and practice in Austria.
Astrid Spatzier

2. Finland

This chapter illustrates when and how the public relations (PR) profession started to develop in Finland and why certain terminology came to be used. It shows that the Finnish Association of Public Relations, founded in 1947 is one of the oldest peacetime associations of its kind in Europe. The profession had emerged almost a decade earlier, just before the outbreak of World War II. The chapter sheds light on the PR pioneers who stood out during this period in Finland’s history, as well as the issues they represented.
Elina Melgin

3. France

This chapter deals with the development of public relations (PR) as a professional field in France, from 1945 to the late 1980s. Not initially considered as a strategic management function, French PR sought to gain legitimacy in its early years, implicitly differentiating itself from the model of North American PR by which it was inspired, through a focus on the ethical dimension of the profession and its distinction from the related professions of journalism and advertising. Professional associations reflected these concerns and played a key role in helping the profession construct its identity. Social evolutions, especially the civil unrest associated with May 1968, can also be seen to have influenced the development of PR, underlining deeper social trends and the growing need for social dialogue both within organizations and externally. Successive governments and the public sector, in general, also played an important role in legislating and then legitimizing the profession on several occasions. By the late 1980s, the strategic dimension of the PR/communications function had become accepted in many major organizations.
Bruno Chaudet, Valérie Carayol, Alex Frame

4. Germany

Modern public relations (PR) in Germany started at the beginning of the 19th century. Before then, a time in which medieval rulers, emperors, princes, churches and poets communicated publicly and when communication instruments were used that were similar to later PR instruments, can be called the prehistory of PR. In seven different periods, PR in Germany has developed from the first PR departments in the political sphere (1816, 1841), which were established to influence the public opinion to the public sphere over the first ‘boom phase’ in the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) and the Nazi period (1933-1945), and on to professionally organized communication departments of today in big companies or political organizations. PR, which in Germany today is sometimes called the ‘fifth estate’, has much institutional power and can be assigned a constitutive function for Germany’s democratic society.
Günter Bentele

5. Greece

This chapter aims to present the evolution of PR in Greece from the early 1950s until today by outlining historic developments, main actors, international influences, professional bodies and obstacles that Greek PR has faced over the years.
Anastasios Theofilou

6. Italy

From the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Italians lived in a ‘blocked political democratic system’ (Ginsburg, 2001; Jones, 2003).
This is the political and cultural humus in which Public Relations (PR) activities have developed: a continued communication effort to deter a Communist seizure of national power. A strong underlying influence that characterized the profession was the Anglo-American ‘communicating-to’ matrix approach in which propaganda and persuasion are the main purpose (Muzi Falconi, 2005). The profession consolidated during the post-war reconstruction (1945–1955), the economic miracle (1955–1965), the socio-economic slowdown (1965/1975) and stagnation (1975–1990). Following almost a decade (1992–2000) of ‘wound-licking’ induced by a corruption scandal of the early 1990s, the institutionalization of PR and a transition to the communicating-with approach characterized the first decade (2000–2010) of this new century.
Toni Muzi Falconi, Fabio Ventoruzzo

7. Netherlands and Belgium

Although the Flemish part of Belgium was part of the Netherlands until 1830, the countries are quite different, and that is also the case in the two parts of Belgium itself. Therefore, a brief history of public relations in the Netherlands and Belgium intersects three different stories: a story of the development of public relations as public information in the Netherlands in the 19th century; a story of public relations as propaganda and press agentry in the 20th century in the French-speaking part of Belgium; and a story of public relations as public affairs and public information in the Flemish part of the country.
Betteke van Ruler, Anne-Marie Cotton

8. Scandinavia

Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe consisting of three relatively homogeneous countries, namely Sweden, Norway and Denmark. For centuries, these countries and their populations have formed a social, economic, political, and last, but not least, a linguistic community. Despite this homogeneity, the discipline of public relations (PR) has not developed along the same track in Scandinavia. In Sweden, for example, PR started within state authorities and the first association for Swedish press officers working in the public sector was established in 1950. In Norway, the Norwegian Public Relations Club was created almost at the same time, in 1949. However, the Norwegian Labour Party was inspired by American PR ideas earlier, in the 1930s. In Denmark, the Danish Public Relations Club was not established until 1961, and its first members were all recruited from private companies.
Larsåke Larsson, Tor Bang, Finn Frandsen

9. Spain

Spain is different. So said a well-known post-World War II slogan which became popular in tourism advertising in the 196os. Indeed, the evolution of public relations (PR) in Spain has several distinctive features. As a profession, it began with the opening of the first agency dedicated to offering full PR services in November 1960, during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Despite mild censorship of promotional activities and image campaigns, the profession continued to break ground until the end of Francoism in 1975, when the country became more open and its process towards democracy began.
Natalia Rodríguez-Salcedo, Jordi Xifra

10. United Kingdom

The chapter distinguishes between occupational and societal approaches to British public relations (PR) history and reviews a range of literature that explores socio-cultural, religious and political influences. Reference is made to international and national political change (conflict, colonialism, decolonization), and its effects on the communications of politicians, policy-makers and government administrators in a democratic context. Attention is paid to the diffusion of communications practices in corporate contexts, such as utilities, and increased business awareness of the importance of political lobbying. The formation of a professional body in 1948 is noted, along with some discussion of its ambition for professional status for the occupation in the face of critical opposition from journalists.
Jacquie L’Etang


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