Businesswire commemorates 100th anniversary of the news release

Businesswire has put out a news release announcing it is holding a series of events at its domestic (that’s American to most of the world) offices commemorating the 100th anniversary of Ivy Lee’s first press release.

Except the news/press release is rather sloppily written and goes on to say “Business Wire conferences will pay homage to the 100th anniversary of the press release.”

Hang on a moment guys, which is it? I can accept that Ivy Lee (one of the founders of modern public relations) put out his first press release in 1906 but it is a bit of a stretch to claim it as the 100th anniversary of the press release and how can it also be “the 100th anniversary of the public relations industry.”

I don’t have sources at hand (and don’t have time to Windows Live Search – read this to see why no more Google), but from memory what about:

  • Some book about American railways published in the late 1890s which is meant to be the first documented use of the term public relations
  • Jesse James used the media to bolster his reputation as a brave ex-Confederate guerilla, rather than a desperate outlaw – on several occasions he left ‘press releases’ behind at the scenes of his robberies
  • I’ve always thought of Edward Bernays as the ‘founder’ of modern public relations, rather than Ivy Lee

It needs one of the blogging PR academics to put some flesh on these old bones.

Thanks to bitemarks for the tip-off about the anniversary.


Stuart Bruce

International Public Relations Adviser | Trainer | Author | Media Commentator | Conference Speaker | University Lecturer | Online PR | Digital Corporate Communications | Crisis Communications | Digital Public Affairs