The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

Public Relations

Category: Economy

Before World War Two public relations — except in fashion or show business — was regarded with suspicion in Britain. The war made it, like advertising, respectable and Whitehall found public relations officers very convenient for explaining unpopular actions.

Hundreds of public relations men are steadily employed by large corporations, keeping newspapers and television informed of their employers’ achievements, ‘suffused in a tosy, light. Many others are employed by advertising agencies to supplement, their other services. But there are also more subtle; independent practitioners, often called “consultants’’, who work in a more personal way and are the aristocras of the profession. They have firms of their own, with polish offices in the West End. They work among chandeliers and marble mantelpieces, telephoning, entertaining, introducing, arranging, cocifiating, explaining — lubricating the wheels between corporations and the public.

Sometimes they make use of institutional. advertising, but their real art consists of unseen promotion — inspiring head-lines, television programmes, questions in Parliament, letters to The Times. They cultivate an old-fashioned, long-established atmosphere: they wear stiff collars in Regency offices. They are the new diplomats of British society: they have the suavity, the social poise, the adaptability and flexibility of diplomats and a sprinkling of titles and double-barrelled names.

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