History of Public Relations: Early PR Campaign “Enlist in the Sportsmen’s 1000”
In the beginning public relations practitioners were known to exploit their influence in the ways they attained public support for their organisations goals. Due to the fact there was no body regulating these practitioners, their work could be seen as unethical, with no consequences. Their sole purpose was to create attention to their organisation and in turn get the result they wanted. Holtzhausen says “PR histories have narrowly focused on activities explicitly defined as ‘public relations’ rather than the diverse public communication practices that characterise the field” (Holtzhausen 2007). For instance, an early public relations campaign is the Australian Governments campaign to have young men conscripted for World War 1. While not the direct public relations campaign, the referenda conducted to change Australia’s volunteer Army contributed to the way Australian’s looked at the need to win the war. In particular we can look at the public relations campaign run by the Australian government in 1917, the Sportsmen’s 1000 poster.
This poster was created to show young Australian men, that Sportsmen are born fighters. It also shows that the relationship with World War 1 is that those enlisted would be a team, who would help each other win the war. The Australian War Memorial says “the campaign to enlist sportsmen was fuelled by a strong belief that by playing sport young men developed specific skills and qualities that could be used on the battlefield”. (Australian War Memorial, “Enlist in the Sportsmen’s 1000”, ARTV00026, 1917). This poster is public relations and not advertising as it seeks to build an understanding between the Australian government and the young men responding to the Sportsmen’s 1000 poster, if it were advertising there would perhaps not mention ‘Lieutenant Jacka V.C’. If this campaign were created today, there would be targeted more to those already enlisted in the army, as opposed to your average Joe sportsman, this would benefit the ‘achieving’ stage as it would more likely determine the success of the campaign with those already prepared for such an event.
Holtzhausen, D. (2007), ‘Activism’ in E. Toth (ed.), The future of excellence in public relations and communication management, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 357–379
Australia War Memorial, “Enlist in the Sportsmen’s 1000”, 1917, ARTV00026.