Chile, a South American country with a population of approximately 18.2 million people, rests between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains. The country's greatest natural resources include an abundance of copper, the world’s largest extraction of nitrate and timber from its southern forests. It also includes a rich history of public relations, whose origins can be dated to the mid-twentieth century.
The history of public relations in Chile is widely connected to its relationship with journalism. The first journalism school in the country opened on May 28, 1953 at the University of Chile, and also offered courses in public relations and advertising. Dr. Juan Gomez Millas, a professor at the University of Chile (during its inception) was a strong proponent of public relations and declared that communication courses were “an indispensable complement to journalism.” During the following decade, several courses and seminars were also offered at other journalism institutions, including Pontoificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, and Universidad de Concepcion.
With the development and establishment of public relations associations in other Latin American countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Panama, and Peru, the Inter-American Federation of Public Relations Associations, or FIARP was created in 1960. The sole initiative of FIARP was to connect and interlink public relations associations in each Latin American country.
The Chilean Institute of the Rational Administration known as ICARE, which was founded in 1953 to “promote the principles, values, and concepts that inspire development of the company” offered courses in business, marketing and finance, and later added public relations. Additionally, The Chilean Institute of public relations, or ICREP was established on January 25, 1960 with the explicit vision to “enhance the role and value of public relations and communication management to organizations, and to global society.” ICREP also provided its members with 150 hours of professional development and training classes.
On May 26, 1983, the Council of Public Relations Professionals Chile was established to replace ICREP and to further integrate public relations professionals in the country. This council provided a plethora of public relations related courses that offered PR professionals more disposable resources to enhance their training. This was especially important given the fact that many public relations practitioners in Chile did not have actual degrees in the field.
While many early public relations practitioners in Chile were predominately journalists, today there are more opportunities for students to obtain degrees in public relations related field. This should theoretically lead to PR specialists with more traditional communication backgrounds.