This paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of the origins of Spanish public relations from the end of the nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Although the term “public relations” was an export to Europe by the end of the second world war (with some exceptions), its philosophy had already been practised in some countries, and countries not always under a democratic regime, as the Spanish case shows.
The approach taken is a literature review of the first Spanish communication journals, oral interviews with the pioneers in the field and documentary research of the unpublished professional archive of the first Spanish agency, established in 1960.
The first “public relations” campaigns did not appear until the very late 1950s. However, a closer look reveals the existence of precedents in the first half of the century though under other names such as “educational” and “prestige” advertising, or “propaganda” campaigns. Despite being considered as isolated experiences, they prove the phenomenon precedes the name of “public relations”.
This paper places special emphasis on two lines of emergence for public relations. First, the profession in Spain naturally evolved and stemmed from advertising and, due to historical reasons, it was also related to communicative initiatives known as “propaganda”. Second, once the practitioners heard about the American term “public relations”, the precedents seemed to be ignored and were replaced by the influence of other countries' experiences, thanks to the wide vision of the pioneers.
There is little research on the origins of public relations in Spain and none on the precedents. This paper fills in some of the gaps.
Rodríguez Salcedo, N. (2008), "Public relations before “public relations” in Spain: an early history (1881‐1960)", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 279-293. https://doi.org/10.1108/13632540810919756Download as .RIS
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