What The History of PR Tells Us About Running Campaigns Now

Is the public relations industry all about the future? We’re always building towards something or striving to achieve some goal or achievement so it certainly seems that way. However, that’s not the whole truth. There’s plenty about PR that involves both the present and the past, especially if you’re looking to find a great campaign that can ensure your company’s future.

Since there’s such a deep history in PR, why not look and see what you can mine? In fact there are plenty of stories that can give you ideas for your next PR venture. Check out the past to learn what to do…and what not to do.

la machine à remonter le tempsTylenol Shows Customers Come First 

Have you ever gone to open a bottle of medicine and discovered it takes a hammer and chisel to open the thing, giving you more of a reason to take medicine? That security measure didn’t come about for no reason – it was the result of a poison scare in the early 1980s.

Someone had laced bottles of Tylenol with potassium cyanide which killed seven people. Now, Tylenol’s response could’ve been anything from “this doesn’t concern us” to putting out a release they had found all the deadly bottles and everything was ok.

What they did, though, was recall all of their product. ALL of it. Plus, they stopped production and advertising until they had completely revamped their line which included safety measures on the bottles. They chose to put the customer first no matter what the cost. In the end, everyone was better off for it and “Tylenol” is often ubiquitously used to refer to any kind of pain reliever.

Diamonds are Forever

 One thing many PR pros today miss is making the public understand why they need the items the PR pro is promoting. Not just want – need! If you can convince people their lives are much fuller with the stuff you have, your business life is golden.

Take the diamond market. Think diamonds were always “forever” and a “girl’s best friend?” Actually, the diamond market was in the tank in the 1930s when the De Beers Company came up with an idea: they would convince people everywhere that you can’t have romance without a diamond.

If you’ve ever watched television around Valentine’s Day you know it worked, quite well. Couples in love all over were convinced romance wasn’t complete with a big rock on the lady’s finger and De Beers (and others) were saved.

Get Your Word Out First 

Crisis management may seem obvious in today’s world, but in times past it was unheard of. In the early 1900s, though, all of that would change when a train crashed in New Jersey and Ivy Lee had the brilliant idea of getting his say in first.

Ivy was tasked to cover the PR of the Pennsylvania Railroad and they didn’t want the wrong idea getting out there about their train service. So to prevent rumors and misinformation from spreading, Ivy sent out a press release to newspapers detailing the events. Not only did they pick it up, the New York Times printed it verbatim!

When it comes to crisis management, it’s important to be on the ball. Figure out possible plans beforehand so you’re not caught completely unaware and make sure everyone is on the same page in case something happens. It’s often the first word that everyone remembers!

What’s your favorite historical PR story?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here:

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