The practice of Public Relations started long time ago before it was given professional attention, already experts believed there were men and women who were skilled in this prior to civilization; but the development of PR came later for our countries of study, i.e the United States of America, United Kingdom and Nigeria.
PR practice started developing in the U.S.A after Sir Ivy ledbetter Lee, who is also acclaimed pioneer of PR, in 2906, sent a message to all the media executives (the United States Press) in the city.
By doing this, Mr. Lee ripped apart the secrecy that covered big businesses – which separate them totally from the public and ended up creating the first Public Relations Office.
For Britain, it was Sir Stephen Talent after he Carried out his first Public Relations assignment in 1926 with the Empire Market Board.
But generally for Britain, the war and post-war period was a major time of change, development and practice of PR; and this was led by the then British Ministry of Information.
For Nigeria, PR practice started after the Second World War.
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The first was established in 1940 by the colonial government in Lagos with main objective of disseminating war information, this was done in conjunction with the Lagos Press.
In 1944, the office name was later changed from ‘Information Office’ to Public Relations Office.
In 1957, after the adoption of Richardson Constitution, Public Relations Office was changed to Public Relations Department. Later same year, an office was opened in Ibadan and another in Enugu, later in 1948.
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This later development helped Nigerians change their perspective of the PR office. It also helped editors and reporters to now have an official source for sourcing of information.
Private Sector PR in Nigeria
The United African Company of Nigeria Limited, otherwise known as the UAC of Nigeria Limited were the first recorded private outfit to establish PR department in its company and Nigeria as a whole. Charles L. Newham was the Chief Information Officer and Head of Department. His office was known as Chief Information Department – this department was concerned primarily with disseminating company news to business men and women who were mainly into produce buying and general merchandise and a selected colonial government functionaries.
Meanwhile, the father of PR in Nigeria and in the public sector was Sam Epelle of the Nigeria Railway Corporation who founded Public Relations Association of Nigeria (PRAN) which later grew into Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).
Why Public Relations Grow Rapidly
- The need for adequate and two-way information flow of information
- The need for companies to keep up with Corporate Responsibilities
- Development of Communication Media and Sophisticated Communication alternatives
- Need to win People’s support for the Government
- Buying and Selling
- Products Development and Sales
- Public Relations Association
How to ensure the Continuous Growth of Public Relations (in Nigeria)
- Improve Ethical Standards
- Regulate PR Practitioners
- Improve Working Conditions and Standards in every PR environment, departments or state across the country
- Educate the General Public
- Further Education in PR