George Creel (“The Creel Committee”)
George Creel is most famously known for heading up the United States propaganda efforts during World War I. As a man with an extensive journalism background, George Creel was summoned to work with Woodrow Wilson to head up his CPI, or Committee of Public Information (also known as ‘The Creel Committee’). Creel’s background, consisting of reporting, publishing and editing newspapers led to him be an avid supporter of Wilson during the presidential campaigns. Therefore, when Wilson was serving as president, and Creel leading the CPI, he already knew Wilson’s position well, especially on the war, and knew exactly what his job was. During this time (1917), it was a main priority to encourage Wilson’s efforts to enter the war especially to the public who tended to oppose it. In addition, Creel needed to focus some on reducing the anti-German feeling in the States.
In order to accomplish all of these efforts, Creel used his Committee (consisting of Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan; Secretary of War, Lindley M. Garrison; and Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels and others http://publicdiplomacy.wikia.com/wiki/Creel_Committee), to blend advertising techniques with the media by “including all aspects of the U.S. media, including film, posters, music, paintings and cartoons (in some ways reminiscent of Charles Masterman’s earlier efforts in Britain”. In addition he recruited 75,000 “Four Minute Men” to speak publicly for four minutes in favor or the war efforts. http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/creel.htm). The range of Creels efforts were wide yet the Committee was divided up into different divisons to reach every aspect. From producing short silent films and writing press releases to using the Committee’s ‘Division of Pictorial Publicity’ to use illustrations such as the famous “I want you” poster; each aspect of what we see as modern public relations was covered. Not only did the efforts encourage the war, but Creel used these same public relation techniques to sell Liberty Bonds, promote food conservation, and build the Red Cross (which helped to made fundraising another important element to PR). (http://faculty.buffalostate.edu/smithrd/PR/pioneers.htm)
Following the war, Creel went back to his roots of publishing and published a book of his memoirs titled “How We Advertised America” in 1920 and dozens more after. Looking back on Creel’s influence and role within the history of Public Relations, you can see it is a massive one. His efforts were very modern and do not stray far from what is being done today. Creel focused heavily on the role of media in public relations. Knowing that this is a key to reaching the public, Creel was able to reach a wide audience. And, using the committee, Public Relations began to work much like a PR business works today (which many of the same techniques still being used today by the US Government and businesses across the world.)