Ivy Lee

Ivy Lee

Lauren Cole and Leslyn Bantley

Ivy Lee was extremely influential from the late 1800s to mid 1900s in the Public Relations industry and was known as the “Founding Father of Modern Public Relations.”  In 1905 he established the United State’s third public relations firm with a man named George Parker, naming the company Parker and Lee.  The motto for this company was “Accuracy, Authenticity, and Interest,” revolving around the idea that they were focused on providing the truth and accurate news for the public.  In 1906 after an incident involving the Pennsylvania Railroad, Lee issued the first press release after convincing the company to openly disclose information.   Lee’s longest lasting contribution to PR was his Declaration of Principles in 1906.  This was a statement that moved from advertising to true public relations, which carried over for decades to come.  Lee’s ideas stated in his Declaration were completely contrary to those of Edward Bernays, another prominent PR originator.  Lee’s ideas included the “two-way street” approach, which helped clients listen and communicate with the public and create relationships between the two.  He used press releases to provide more information rather than less.

Another milestone in Lee’s career was his advising position for the Rockefeller family.  John D. Rockefeller Jr. hired Lee to represent his family and it’s company, Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, after the Ludlow Massacre.   Lee told the operators to tell the truth of what really happened, however, they still lied about the deaths of the women and child.  While working for the Rockefellers, he completely changed Mr. Rockefeller’s image from a “profit-driven robber baron” to a sympathetic and warm employer.

Other significant clients included: the Red Cross, George Westinghouse and Charles Lindbergh.  Lee did great work for the Red Cross during WWI.  He helped raise $400 million in contributions for disaster relief.

Lee died from a brain tumor in New York on November 9, 1934.


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