An AP Stylebook Original

Below are two photos of AP Stylebooks: one is from 1967, the other one from 2017. Over the years, this essential writing guide has changed immensely, primarily due to societal advancements. For example, in the 2017 version, in situations of possible gender nonconformity, singular “they” is now acceptable as a pronoun when rewriting the sentence as plural would be too difficult.

Because the Stylebook adapted over the years, it is still relevant today and imperative to many professionals, offering a completely fundamental perspective on writing and syntax. It is generally used as a reference to grammar, punctuation, and principles of reporting, which have been adopted by the majority of broadcasting, magazine publishing, marketing departments, and public relations firms. This 1967 version of the AP Stylebook is a significant relic in the history of writing and the PR industry as a whole, and it is now featured in the Museum of Public Relations!

One Small Step

48 years ago on this date, July 20, 1969, about 600 million people gathered by their radios and televisions to watch and listen in real time to the landing of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon. This event not only marks an influential moment in technological history, but also in the history of media and communication.

Interestingly, all of the shared enthusiasm and positivity around the NASA mission was close to not being possible, as many NASA engineers believed that live broadcasting from the moon would take too much effort and money. The public affairs team for NASA was forced to step in and insist on the importance of the live video due to the community support they had to gather for the Apollo missions, which was garnered to justify spending billions of tax dollars. Once pride abounded in the country, NASA was able to do more than just promote their cause. They educated the media, who became third-party spokespeople for the program, and through both television and newspapers, they would tell the space story the public was so eager to hear. In their own publicity efforts, however, NASA was strategically avoiding the argument over cost and previous failures. Instead, the agency positively branded the astronauts’ faces as representing American ingenuity, pride, and bravery. Many believe that public relations played a crucial role in getting public support for America’s race to the moon, which it ultimately reached before the Soviets.  

Richard Jurek, a public relations specialist, referred to the significance of the event by claiming that, “Apollo’s place in our collective memories is chiseled there because we experienced it together. NASA didn’t just send three men to the moon on the Apollo 11 mission, they sent more than 600 million of us—men, women, and children from all over the globe—to the moon and back, thanks to live television.”

Eaten responsibly, or indulged in gluttonously for the sake of foodie heaven, bacon resurges to grace the American palate

 

Very few items scream America in the morning like sizzling strips of bacon. This American tradition was originally synthesized by PR “Founding Father” Edward Bernays, who was able to demonstrate, before modern scientific studies countered the claim, that a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs was very healthy. Thousands of doctors were enlisted to research and present the claim, which was so powerful it created bona fide American tradition.

This tradition almost went the way of quilting when scientific research showed several negative effects of excessive bacon consumption. By 1989 Oscar Meyer, Tyson Foods, Hormel Foods and many other purveyors of America’s favorite cured pork product began looking at a slowly but consistently ebbing trend in consumption.

However, Americans have always enjoyed risk, especially a delicious one, so recent years have seen a shift in attitudes towards the crispy, meaty strips. Used in moderation as a garnish or ingredient, or simply eaten sparingly, bacon has become common again.  It graces almost every possible sandwich, soup or salad, and there are now restaurants that serve exclusively bacon. This year the United States Department Agriculture released figures showing that American consumption of bacon over the last winter was the among highest it had been since tracking of pork bellies began in 1957. Yearly consumption is catching up, as farmers struggle to bring enough pork bellies to market to meet a raging consumer demand.

The greasy thanks for this epicurean Cinderella story goes to a new generation of foodies and a couple of fairy god-fathers - Tom Bush and Mark Schweiger. These two inventive businessmen realized that it wasn’t just the health mess created by bacon that prevented many Americans from enjoying their traditional guilty culinary pleasure - it was the actual mess. Every time bacon is cooked, whether on the stove or in the oven or microwave, there is oily splatter everywhere, (as many readers remembering being hit with splattering grease can surely attest). So, Tom Bush and Mark Schweiger introduced pre-cooked bacon to the American shopping aisle.

Of course, Oscar Meyer and other large bacon producing corporations were unwilling to sell or market it back in 1995 when Bush and Schweiger pitched them. So, Bush and Schweiger turned the other cheek, said “Oh ye, of little faith,” and went on to reverse the market trend. They eventually sold their successful company SHK Foods to Con Agra for $30 Million.

Ready to eat bacon now hogs about 10% of the total bacon market- about $400 million out of a $4 billion industry. The pre-cooked bacon success may even be reverberating to the larger bacon and pork markets. Americans bought about 14% more bacon in 2016 than 2013 according to the research firm Nielsen, and according to the USDA, total pork supply has reached its highest levels since market tracking began in 1915. It seems, at least for the time being, that Americans are pigging out.

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The Wall Street Journal Origin

The Wall Street Journal, one of the most prominent publications around the world and especially in the local New York area, published its first edition exactly 128 years ago. The Wall Street Journal has consistently published millions of news articles pertaining to globally important events, conflicts, and brands in business, creating a positive reputation for the publication across the world since its original establishment on July 8, 1889.

Three financial reporters named Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser, formed the Wall Street Journal in an effort to overtake a previous periodical called the Customers’ Afternoon Letter. Success increased tremendously over time as circulation was at 7,000 copies in 1902, and skyrocketed to 50,000 by the end of the 1920s. The 1940s were when the publication began to take its modern style and reputation, as Bernard Kilgore was named managing editor. Kilgore shaped the iconic front page of the Journal and took the circulation up to 1.1 million by the time of his death in 1967. After many years of increased success, the Journal had a circulation of close to 2.4 million in 2013, making The Wall Street Journal the largest newspaper in the United States by circulation. With the addition of the Journal’s online presence, the publication has been able to maintain its prominence in the modern digital age and play a major role in news communications.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Lasting Legacy on PR in The White House

“No American President has played a larger role in institutionalizing public relations in the White House than Theodore Roosevelt” -Rodger Streitmatter, American Journalism

Although Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, was thought of for decades after his death as nothing more than a man with impressive rhetoric and an exuberant personality, his reputation eventually changed. Historians began to credit him for revolutionizing the presidency by attempting to meet the needs of the nation by discerning public interest and directly engaging the community while permanently placing the president at center stage.

Roosevelt made a significant change by being the first president to take advantage of the public relations techniques of news conferences and interviews, multimedia campaigns, recorded audio and new radio technology. He also used his public office as a powerful speaking platform in order to endorse himself and sway public opinion in favor of his policies. He forged a path for future presidents to constantly partake in the work of branding, publicity and opinion management—later considered the work of spin. He pioneered methods such as touring the country to promote favored legislation, approaching the Washington press corps, hosting informal press conferences, keeping tabs on photographers, and staging ingenious publicity stunts.

With his uncanny ability to reach the public through speeches, the press, and emerging media while embracing the techniques of craft and spin, Roosevelt is credited and remembered for completely redefining the role of the president within public relations and media communications.

See an example of his rhetoric here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYn5FJnvrZk

The Corvette Story

1953—On this day, the first ever Corvette was assembled in Flint, Michigan. General Motors’ pioneer Harley J. Earl developed this idea in an effort to offer a low-cost competitor to Jaguars and Ferraris. The Corvette had many new and exciting features, such as a clock, cigarette lighter, red warning light when the parking brake was applied, and a six-cylinder engine. They continued to update the product to a V-8 engine, which steadily improved the appeal of the sports car. 

Along with these novel appliances, Corvette used a PR strategy throughout the establishment phase of the car that undoubtedly contributed to the original success of the product and has stayed consistent ever since. They wanted to portray more than just the physical features of the car, but also the aesthetics, the story behind the car and the seller as well. Referring to the owner of the largest collection of Corvettes in the world, Terry Michaelis, “he sells dreams and love affairs. He gives people something that they wanted when they were younger, but they had to put their careers, marriages and children’s college tuitions first…these cars are not a commodity, not a simple mode of transportation. They are rewards.” 

Storytelling advertising and cohesive PR has been essential to the success of the iconic Chevrolet Corvette brand - a brand that came to be exactly sixty-four years ago.

PR Campaign for Catalonia’s Push for Independence

How is the region of Catalonia portraying itself throughout their modern movement for independence? Public relations play a significant role in this nation building process for the region of Catalonia. There is an increasing focus on the building of relationships with foreign publics: public diplomacy. Catalonia has been attempting to overcome problems derived from the absence of a state of its own, such as suppressed political perspective and a distinct identity. Another problem arises in the economy, as the prosperous region’s tax money is not reinvested into Catalonia itself. These supposed struggles were in part the result of the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975) oppression when the Catalan autonomy, language and culture were taken away, which created a mutual resentment between the Catalan people and the rest of the country of Spain.

The long standing former President of the Government of Catalonia, Jordi Pujol, understood the recent importance of international relations to political Catalan nationalism, that would come through the development of a national identity as well as the promotion of Catalonia’s aforementioned economic interests. Catalonia uses sport and tourism as a part of their public relations strategy towards creating their own identity and as a part of building a positive international reputation. They are continuing to inform the international public of the competitive and cultural advantages that Catalonia has to offer to tourists and to businesses, in hopes of terminating the possibility of the Spanish central government absorbing their culture. Through these campaigns, Catalonians are drawing a distinct public image in order to support their continued movement for independence, while the federal government, on the other hand, hopes to keep the region as a rich part of Spain.