The History of Juneteenth

  Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)   Photo by PBS. 

Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library) Photo by PBS. 

Let’s travel back in time for a second. Picture this:

It’s June 19th, 1865. The Civil War officially ended a little over a month ago, but that hasn’t stopped some of the civil unrest between the North and South. Slavery was signed off by Abraham Lincoln just two years prior via the Emancipation Proclamation, but with communications systems not being as great as future societies, news hasn’t spread all that far. And where it has, slave owners have withheld the information from their slaves to keep the old system going… that is until Major General Gordon Granger and the Union Army decided to come on down to Galveston, Texas, and deliver and enforce the earth shattering proclamation: that slaves were free and the war was over. Now, most Americans recognize June 19th, or Juneteenth, as a national holiday and proudly celebrate the independence of African Americans.

The word may seem strange, but Juneteenth IS a real word, being a combination of the month June and the date nineteenth. It was first officially recognized in 1979 by Texas, and 44 states and the District of Columbia soon followed, leading to a nationwide recognition of the holiday (minus Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and New Hampshire).

There are actually numerous dates that could have been chosen to be African American Independence Day, but the selection of June 19 ultimately came down to a massive historical movement during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1970s. Following the Civil War, Juneteenth was celebrated with great joy by African American communities and local cities; during the reign of the Jim Crow laws and the Great Depression, however, Juneteenth faced a significant decline. It wouldn’t be until the Poor People’s Campaign of June 1968 that Juneteenth would resurge into the forefront of American historical holidays.

After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Ralph Abernathy led a protest in Washington, D.C. Both on the streets and inside the government, turmoil was amuck; this caused some to question whether the protest was really spreading more negativity than the positivity it hoped to inspire. The leaders of the movement decided that the protest must end on a high note, and they chose June 19th as a day of independence and celebration.

The modern day Juneteenth celebration often consists of barbeques, soul food, parades, speaking engagements, festivals, and more. For more information on Juneteenth, visit the official website at Happy Juneteenth, everyone!

  Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger   Photo by Texas State Historical Association.

Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger Photo by Texas State Historical Association.

  Poor People's Campaign, 1968   Photo by The Nation.

Poor People's Campaign, 1968 Photo by The Nation.

  Modern Day Juneteenth Celebration: members of the Tsoloi Ensemble perform a traditional African dance at the Juneteenth celebration in Washington   Photo by Times Union.

Modern Day Juneteenth Celebration: members of the Tsoloi Ensemble perform a traditional African dance at the Juneteenth celebration in Washington Photo by Times Union.


Shelley Spector Receives The Phillip Dorf Award

  Shelley Spector giving a speech on stage at Big Apple Awards Ceremony   Photo by Roger Bolton

Shelley Spector giving a speech on stage at Big Apple Awards Ceremony Photo by Roger Bolton

Shelley Spector, president of Spector & Associates and founder of the museum, received The Philip Dorf Award for leadership and mentorship at this year’s Big Apple Awards. The Public Relations Society of America - New York Chapter hosted the 31st Annual Gala, which was attended by many public relations practitioners and other 2018 honorees.

Shelley Spector and Roger Bolton truly live the principles of these awards, as professionals who have each advanced the craft of communications and helped professionalized our industry.
— Mike Doyle, partner & regional president, North America, Ketchum.

Shelley was one of the three chosen PR practitioners honored for individual achievement awards - Roger Bolton and Olga Gonzalez also received Big Apple Awards. Spector gave an acceptance speech at the ceremony (see link to video below) where she shared her gratitude and announced her and the PRSA foundation's upcoming book, Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership. In this upcoming project, Shelley will be interviewing  several leaders and CEOs of all backgrounds within the communications field. The interviews will include discussions focusing on leadership, diversity, challenges, personal stories, mentors and more!

Shelley Spector Speech video:

For more information visit:


Remembering Bobby Kennedy

  Bobby Kennedy   Photo by TIME.

Bobby Kennedy Photo by TIME.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s death. On June 6, 1968, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, just moments after he won the California presidential primary. Americans today still remember and celebrate the life of this loved Kennedy family member.

Some may wonder why or how Kennedy was such a compelling and intensely supported leader. He is portrayed in the media as an “American hero” or “the leader we need today,” according to MSNBC. Does it run in the family? Was it his liberal politics? The answer is simply: many valid reasons. However, Bobby is best known for his open advocacy for the civil rights movement. His goal was to unite all working people and to guide equality during this time. Kennedy really took the time and efforts to understand race and poverty; he took multiple trips across the country, initiated projects for the underprivileged and even formed relationships with other leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Kennedy told an interviewer on the last night of his life, “If the division continues, we’re going to have nothing but chaos and havoc here in the United States.”

So, even though Bobby didn’t get the opportunity to fulfill his candidacy, he will always be remembered for his legacy, leadership for human rights and social justice and the imprint he left on America. #RFK50


The Public Relations History in Taiwan

1987, a critical year for the development of public relations in Taiwan.

Before 1987, Taiwan had been under the control of martial law from May 1949. Martial law was implemented by the government of the Republic of China (ROC). Starting in 1945, an 8-year civil war between two parties in Mainland China erupted – the ROC- and the Chinese communist government, the People's Republic of China (PRC). Losing the war, the ROC government was forcely expelled by the Chinese Communists from Mainland China. Therefore, the ROC government retreated to Taiwan after the Japanese surrendered and ended its 50-year regime in Taiwan in the same year. In order to prevent the communism from the Mainland China permeating through Taiwan in the turbulent season, the ROC government promulgated the “Order of Martial Law”, including the restriction of unlawful assembly, association, procession, petition and the regulation of newspaper, magazine and book publication. Back then, the entire media landscape was restricted and censored.

Even restricted by the martial law, some educated Taiwanese never stopped revolting and advocating for democracy. In 1987, realizing democracy would bring progress to society, President Chiang Ching-kuo lifted the 38-year martial law, which was followed by the liberalization and democratization of Taiwan. The emergence of local enterprises and media provided a great opportunity for the growth of a public relations industry. Mr. CC Koong, who was an experienced journalist, realized the need for businesses to communicate with the media and the public in the rapid economic growth period. In 1987, he founded the first native public relations agency, Elite PR Group. Shortly after it was established, Elite published “The Public Relations Handbook”, which paved the long way for the development of the public relations industry in Taiwan.

  After lifting the martial law, Taiwanese had the freedom to demonstrate and march on the street.

After lifting the martial law, Taiwanese had the freedom to demonstrate and march on the street.

  Elite PR Group.

Elite PR Group.

“The Public Relations Handbook” was published in 1988, which is the first Mandarin-written public relations book that is applicable to Taiwanese customs. This book collected cases studies in Mainland China, and the authors included professors, public relations agency managers, corporate public relations department managers, entrepreneurs and journalists, laying out basic do’s and dont’s for future public relations practitioners.

  “The Public Relations Handbook”

“The Public Relations Handbook”

One of The Most Successful PR Women In Japan

Kumi Sato is a CEO in Japan, which is a nation known for its male-dominated corporate ranks. For 31 years, Sato has been the president of Cosmo, a PR company her parents founded in 1960. Instead of inheriting it, Sato bought Cosmo when she was only 27. “Because I had seen too many bad cases where the parent is staying at the company as a chairman, or breathing down the neck of the president.”

Based on her experience as a pioneer in corporate Japan, all while raising three children, Sato has also been advocating for workplace equality. In 2013, she spoke at TEDxMarunouchiWomen and talked about “Why Can’t Japanese Women Have it All?”. TEDxMarunouchiWomen tells the stories of challenges that women face in the workplace and how they overcame them. In 2016, Sato also spoke at the Lean In Asia Summit. Lean In is an NGO founded by Facebook CCO Sheryl Sandberg, working to empower women in the workplace and society.

“I just want to tell women here that there is a price to pay, of course, but staying in the game is actually in the long run incredibly rewarding, and also really good for the family,” Sato said.

Read more about Kumi Sato’s story in Japan Times.


Installment #7 Bernays and The Invisible Government

In the first pages of Propaganda, Bernays explains his “invisible government concept” by saying:

“Conscientious and intelligent manipulation of the habits and opinions of the masses is an important element of a democratic society. These people constitute the invisible government, which is the real dominating power in our country… In some way men who we have never heard of are the ones who govern us, shape our minds, create our preferences and suggest our ideas. This is the logical result of the way our democratic society is organized. A large number of human beings must accommodate to this if they are to live in a harmonious society.”

The fact is, for Bernays, the progress and development of the United States lies in the power of  active minorities in which private and public interests coincide. “Only through the active energy of an intelligent minority can the public freely take conscience and act according to new ideas.” 

Bernays asks himself, who are these shapers of public opinion? We could write a list of several hundred people, leaders in different activities in society, rulers, politicians, artists, clergymen, university directors, powerful financiers, athletes, celebrities, etc. However, it is well known that some of leaders are “led” at the same time by names that are unknown by many. These types of people represent the kind of “manager” associated with the concept of “invisible government.”

These invisible leaders rule us through their natural leadership qualities, their ability to supply basic ideas and through their significant position within the social structure. Bernays affirms that in almost every act in our daily lives, we are dominated by a relatively small number of people who understand the mental processes and social guidelines of the masses.” However, we rarely take conscience of how necessary this "invisible government” is to maintain the order of our lives in society.

Thus, instead of propaganda, a committee of wise men could choose our rules and dictate the way he behave privately and publicly. However we have not chosen aristocracy as a way of government but on the contrary, as Bernays suggests, we have chosen the opposite method: free competition. For this reason, we must find a way in which this free competition works with “reasonable ductility.” To accomplish this, society as a whole must give its consent so free competition can organize itself through leadership and propaganda”.

Through broadcast media, these “invisible leaders” have a fundamental function and ensure consensus within the masses; a society in which there is no middle ground and is characterized by a discontinuous social link. A society in which the notion of public space has fragmented into several individual spaces, value systems and interests. In his invisible government concept, Bernays gives the “communicator” (public relations consultant) a key social roll”: the shaper. Its no longer only about informing but molding public opinion and leading people towards the “proper path.”  

Nevertheless, Bernays  observes that various elements of this process are highly criticized: news manipulation, and sensationalist propaganda in which politicians, products, services and social ideas are exposed to the masses’ conscience. To confront this criticism, Bernays points out that even though these instruments that reach public opinion can be used incorrectly, “an organization and a similar focus are necessary for an organized life.” 

propaganda .jpg

The Story of "P.T. Barnum"

JoAnne Wadsworth, a senior PR major at Bringham Young University, wrote this excellent story about P.T. Barnum for Platform Magazine, the student-run PR publication at the Univ. of Alabama. Barnum, who is often described as one of the pioneers of PR, would never make it in the PR world of today, according to Wadsworth, whose research included an interview with author and former AT&T CCO Dick Martin. Click here to read the piece.


The First Kinetoscope Parlor Was Opened in New York City in 1894

1911-- It was 23 years before this film was made that Thomas Edison proclaimed, "I am experimenting upon an instrument which does for the Eye what the phonograph does for the Ear..." He built a Strip Kinetograph, which was able to take pictures so quickly, that they seemed to actually move. Then Edison built a a machine to watch these movies-- a Kinetoscope, later called a Nickelodeon. For five cents, someone could watch a 20-30 second silent movie about. The first kinetoscope parlor opened on April 14, 1894, at 1155 Broadway in New York City, near 28 Street, which just happens to be in the Flatiron district, named for the building in the middle of the opening frame. Click here for more information.


Installment # 6 The Bernays School of Thought

Let’s briefly consider the three basic elements that make up the origins of the “Bernaysian”school of thought. These key elements are: his atheism, his confessed Freudianism and his profound belief that an “invisible government” had to exist in order to “direct the flocks” to the “appropriate pens” through a proper use of public relations.

On one hand, the belief that a supreme being that somehow controls human destiny, or in other words, the conviction that man is a transcendent creature (belief that often conditioned his colleagues’ professional development) was not in Bernays’ head.  Despite being born in a Jewish family, Bernays didn’t receive a religious education. In fact, religion rarely appears in his work. To solve this issue, Bernays was determined to believe in himself and his ability to “manipulate public opinion” (the term manipulation always had a positive connotation for Bernays).

This way, Bernays’ work, permeated with an atheism that could be considered “practical”, proposed a “world without God”. This has substantial consequences that affect his conception of public opinion and public relations. Without the existence of a source that rules the world, humanity was irremediably headed to a state of social chaos. In this situation, Bernays sustained that manipulation coming from public relations consultants was justified in the sense that it created “gods created by men” who could ensure social order and prevent chaos; a chaos which sooner or later would end up condemning society without the role of these “manipulators”.

In fact, Bernays affirms that if public relations didn’t exist as an ordering force of society, the world would be controlled by capricious forces defined by fate. In a world governed by chance, manipulation is beneficial because it helps prevent error, increase investments from businessmen and avoid accidents.  With this conviction, Bernays shamelessly established a strong defense in favor of the public relations consultant and public opinion manipulation, in a stronger way than professionals like Ivy Lee who operated under ethical and religious concerns.

The second important aspect of Bernay’s way of thinking is his vital and scientific relationship with Sigmund Freud, and more specifically, Freudianism. Beyond their family ties and how they worked in favor of his self-promotion, his early identification with his uncle’s stream of thought was crucial for Bernays’ intellectual development. The practical application of Freudian concepts applied to public relations is seen clearly throughout Bernays’ work during the first decades of the 20th century. However, some of these concepts partially steer away from Freud’s original ideas.  These “Freudian” concepts marked his notion of public opinion, mass and ultimately his anthropological conception.

The third key to understanding Bernays’ thought was his belief in an invisible government. Under this “Bernaysian” concept, these invisible forces could not escape their social responsibility of leading the masses and constructing social order in a world constantly on the verge of chaos. This could only be accomplished through the proper use of public relations. These “puppet men” standing behind the scenes are the only ones capable of existing between the order and chaos of society. Olasky sustains that public relations, under Bernays’ concept don’t need to be protected as if they were developed by sinners in a damned society. Quite on the contrary, public relations are exalted and proclaimed as a great social service done by "saviors" within a sinful society.