Boston PR pro Adam Ritchie Visits the Museum of Public Relations

Since the Museum is tagged on Google Maps, many people stop by because they happen to be in the neighborhood. Such was the case last Friday when Boston PR pro Adam Ritchie and his mom, Lynne, stopped by for a visit. Here they check out the unpublished 1928 manuscript from Ivy Lee, "Mr. Lee's Publicity Book," part of our cherished collection of archives from Lee biographer Ray Hiebert and his wife, Sheila Gibbons Hiebert; Arthur Page's famous pipe and ashtray (thanks to the generosity of The Arthur W. Page Center) and an original framed 1923 letter from Western Union commending Edward Bernays on his idea of making the brand synonymous with telegrams, from our extensive collection of artifacts given to us from the Bernays family in 1995 (with many thanks to daughter, Anne Bernays and grandson Lucas Held.) It was the collection from Bernays that launched the Museum in 1997.

Dear folks

From Steven Barnes, O'Dwyer's Public Relations News: 
"The initial description of Bill Doescher’s “Dear Folks” would be that the book tells the story of both Doescher’s personal life and of his long, distinguished career in the PR industry. "But as readers of the book will discover, 'Dear Folks' doesn’t tell two stories, it tells one. From his childhood in Utica, NY to his post-PR days selling real estate in Scarsdale, there is a clear line connecting the man who was senior vice president and chief communications officer at Dun & Bradstreet (as well as president of the PRSA Foundation and PRSA-NY) with the teenage boy whose main goal in life was to make his Aunt Elsie proud of him..."

Published by the PRMuseumPress, "Dear Folks" can be purchased here.

Magazines from the past

1895-Who knew? In the late 19th century, an American society lady in St. Louis, Rosa Sonneschein (below), published the first English language magazine for the newly emigrated Jewish woman. It was published from 1895-99, appealing to the upwardly mobile educated Jewish communities, starting their European lives all over again in St. Louis, Boston and other U.S. cities. Literature, lifestyle, living arrangements were just some of the topics written by and for this new sector to be assimilated into and influenced by American society. Have a look here!

1971-- First issue of Ms. Magazine, co-founded by Gloria Steinem, debuted in New York Magazine, and continued as a supplement until it spun off on its own in Spring, '72. One of the pieces was a satire, "I Want a Wife," written by Judy Syker, herself a housewife and mother: (Read here): "...I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook..."

3rd Annual celebration of "PR Women Who Changed History"

We extend our thanks to Andi Zales Hughes, Patrice Tanaka, Karen Miller Russell, Tracey Wood Mendelsohn, Caryn Euting Medved and the entire standing-room-only crowd who joined us for our third annual celebration of "PR Women Who Changed History" last night. And a special thank you to all our wonderful sponsors for enabling us to keep alive the memories of the women who came before us.

Have a look at the pictures below:

Celebrating Marilyn Laurie

1987--A Bronx-born former housewife is named senior vice president of public relations for AT&T, becoming the highest ranking women in company history and the first woman to head the PR for a Fortune 50 company.

In 1970, Marilyn Laurie caught the attention of AT&T as a co-founder of Earth Day, the campaign responsible for creating the environmental movement. In fact, AT&T hired her a year later to create the company's environmental policies and set up conservation programs for all the Baby Bell companies. Her rise up to the top of the PR ladder--which was done within a primarily all-male environment--included stints as head of Bell Labs, corporate advertising and speechwriter for the CEO. Along the way, she managed the company's responses to several national crises, including those involving mass layoffs, Planned Parenthood and claims of racism within its ranks.

Prior to the company's trivestiture, Laurie was managing a PR staff of some 800 professionals operating around the world. At the same time, she served as chair for the AT&T Foundation, distributing more than a billion dollars to arts and educational programs to communities across the U.S. She was also one of the founders of the Page Society, an organization named for AT&T's first vp of public relations, Arthur Page.

In her lifetime, Laurie won awards from every PR organization, including election to the Page Society Hall of Fame, several lifetime achievement awards and selection twice as a PR Week Allstar. Since her death in 2010, she continues to win accolades from the industry. At the recent The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication awards dinner, her long-time colleague and successor, Dick Martin, spoke about Laurie's contributions to the field and presented a trophy posthumously to her daughter, Lisa Laurie. See the video from the Page Center.


Are you popular?: Film that shaped attitude towards women in 1949

1949--Are you popular? "Girls who park in cars with boys are never really popular," warns this social guidance film. "Find out what really makes a girl well-liked." Dozens of "social guidance" film reels were wheeled into high school classrooms in the post-war period, teaching, among other things, how boys should ask a girl on a date and how girls should behave on one. According to this film, the secret to popularity is to have a "good personality," and to be nice to everyone.

.Note that today's corporate and political leaders of a certain age grew up with social guidance films like these which may well have shaped their attitudes toward women in the workplace in the decades that followed.

PR Women who changed history

1980-- Doris Fleischman Bernays, the industry's first known professional woman, dies at age 88, after a career working alongside husband Edward Bernays, who died in 1995 at age 103. In this NYT obit, Fleischman is recognized for co-creating the phrase "counsel on public relations" and providing the foundation of the "principles, practices and ethics" for PR. Presidents from Coolidge to Eisenhower, Edison, Ford, Freud, are listed among the many dozens she advised. She joined up with Edward Bernays in 1919, making this the centennial year of professional women in the public relations field.

If you don't already know Muriel Fox, you should. When Fox applied for a writing job at the Carl Byoir agency in the 1940s, she was immediately rejected. "Women aren't writers here," she was told, "they're secretaries." But Fox's persistence not only got her hired, it drove her quick rise up through the male-dominated ranks, becoming Carl Byoir & Associates' first woman vice president in the early '60s. In 1963 she met feminist author Betty Friedan, and the two co-founded the National Organization of Women (NOW). As its PR chair, Fox issued NOW's first press release, announcing the organization's plans to fight for equality and women's rights at work and society. Fox donated the original copy of this release to the Museum at our opening in Sept., 2014, and it's become one of our single most popular exhibits in the collection. See Fox's artifacts at our Mar. 7 exhibition at our 3rd annual tribute of "PR Women Who Changed History," Mar 7, 6pm, @WeWork 85 Broad. 

1944-- At 3 a.m. one night, Denny Griswold woke up her husband, Glenn, with a game-changing idea: to publish a weekly newsletter for the fast-growing PR industry. It would be a "how to" for best practices, report on client wins and staff promotions, and contain a PR case study in each issue. Most important, it would be the industry's first publication it could call its own. The time was ripe: In the 20 some odd years since the first agencies had opened in Boston and NYC, there were now nearly 100 firms throughout the U.S. and big corporations were quickly developing their own in house departments. So important was the newsletter to the field that the NYT published stories about its 20th and 25th anniversaries in its Advertising column. Griswold was known for her relentless advocacy for the profession, handing out "PRoud to be in PR" buttons to everyone who would wear one. She was also heralded for her advocacy on behalf of women in the field, co-founding Women Executives in PR in the 1970s. The Museum holds original materials from PR News, which this year celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Peggy Olson's legendary rise from secretary to copy editor to Management is also the story lived by thousands of PR women in the MadMen era. If you wanted to work in a PR firm, you'd most likely be asked to take a typing test (even a Masters degree made no difference if you were a woman). The young men, not surprisingly, were given writing tests. Once in a while, a woman would get a break, as Peggy did when the account team desperately needed a "woman's voice" for a pitch to a lipstick client. Besides having "billable" talent, women like Peggy would need to be accepted as "one of the guys" (being "one of the girls" meant you were seen as a -- God forbid-- secretary again). So it was important to keep up with politics, talk passionately about the Yankees and Knicks, and learn how to wield a cigarette and shot glass with your left hand so you could shake a guy's hand with your right. Starting sometime in the eighties PR women no longer had to "prove" how good they were for the company. Now it became the company's job to "prove" how good it was for the women.

2000-- "Public relations is fundamental to a democratic society where people make decisions in the workplace, the marketplace, the community and in the voting booth," said Betsy Plank, upon accepting the esteemed Alexander Hamilton award, given annually by the Institute of Public Relations. "Its primary mission is to forge responsible relationships of understanding, trust and respect among groups and individuals – even though they often disagree." Known as the First Lady of Public Relations, Plank (1924-2010) was the first woman to head a division of Illinois Bell, the first woman to serve as president of the Publicity Club of Chicago and first woman president of PRSA (in 1973). She is considered one of the field's foremost champions of PR education. In 1989, Plank made possible the PRSA's first-ever scholarship endowment fund-- providing support for PR education at 40 U.S. colleges and universities. She was also one of the founders of PRSSA. Today the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, headquartered at Plank's alma mater, the University of Alabama—carries on her legacy: encouraging mentoring, diversity, leadership training and PR education. Learn more here.

Coretta Scott King: the builder of King Legacy

Dr. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center, often reminds audiences that to honor her father, one must also remember to honor her mother, who built the King legacy. At the time of his death, Dr. King was one of the most reviled men on earth.

Through the power of her communication, and her persistence, Coretta Scott King transformed the public’s overall perception and built the legacy that continues to nourish our dreams of freedom and justice for all.

When Coretta Scott King was in need of communications support, she turned to PR legend Ofield Dukes, counselor to U.S. presidents, members of Congress, and public figures until his death in 2011. Dukes was instrumental in the effort to establish Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday. 

Ofield Dukes's legacy continues to be an inspiration to students and professionals alike. At the Museum, visitors can learn about Dukes's life (1932-2011) by exploring original news clips, photos, and industry awards honoring his work in politics, civil rights and the music industry. Of note is a plaque commemorating Dukes's success bringing Motown music to mainstream America, presented to Dukes by Motown founder Berry Gordy. Copies of "Ofield: The Autobiography of Public Relations Man," edited by two of his mentees, Dr. Rochelle Ford and Dr. Unnia Pettus, are available for purchase at the Museum, or here: 

Read Ofield's obit in the Washington Post here.

Journalist Joseph Vaudrey Baker: PR Pioneer

1934--Journalist Joseph Vaudrey Baker becomes the first African American to open a public relations firm. He was also the first to get PRSA accreditation and the first to get elected to head a PRSA chapter. He opened Baker Associates in the midst of the Great Depression. Baker flourished by showing national brands how to market to the new "Negro Market." His first account was the Pennsylvania Railroad.

He later went on to counsel U.S. Steel, Scott Paper and Gillette, among many other national brands. His papers, housed at Emory Univ*., include PR proposals: "American Tobacco and the Negro National Community," "Proctor and Gamble and the Negro Community," and "Minority Communities: A Handbook for Clients. In addition to PR, Baker is also considered a civil rights activist, publishing dozens of articles in 1960s analyzing the plight of African Americans in communities across the U.S.

The Young Ladies' Journal

1892--Whether a reader was concerned with her weight, the hair on her face or the thinning hair on her head, she could find a solution in the Young Ladies' Journal. This popular 19th century periodical, covering the fashion and lifestyles of London's Victorian-era women, influenced the shopping behavior of the fast-growing market of status-conscious consumers, who now had access to ready-to-wear clothing in department stores like Harrod's and Selfridges.

Explore more historical women's media at the Museum during Women's History Month