Every community has organizations, many of which sponsor various projects of interest not only to the members but also to the public in general. The chamber of commerce will devote considerable attention to publicizing the climate, natural scenery, and other attractions likely to interest tourists. Service clubs will raise funds to aid crippled children, to build Ii cabin for the Boy Scouts, or to provide hoods on vocational guidance for the high school library. Fraternal orders, professional societies, labor unions, women’s clubs, veterans’ organizations, farm bureaus, merchants’ associations, and many other permanent local groups have special enterprises to publicize. Then, too, there are the groups that sponsor pageants, Chautauqua, music festivals, patriotism – rallies, and other more or less seasonal enterprises. In the bigger cities opera, symphony, and art exhibits may be included in the list of activities requiring publicity. Seldom are all of these community interests and activities covered by.newspapermen without the aid often .of an amateur and occasionally a professional publicity expert.
“The public be damned” That’s what a big businessman said years ago. But big businessmen don’t say that today. Neither do little ‘businessmen, They know that their success rests with the public. That’s why they use every legitimate means-and not always do they stop there ..to win public confidence. They buy time on the air and they buy space in newspapers and magazines, on billboards and car signs, to attract and hold public interest and approval. “But their advertisements, whether of specific commodities and services or of general policies and practices, are not enough. They, too, resort to publicity experts and public relations counsels.
What can .the publicity man do for a big or little business? He can discover information about its activities that is news. To these activities, he can call public attention. How? Perhaps he will send out a news release, Better, he may arrange for reporters to interview the man responsible for the news or he may provide for a demonstration of new equipment. To be sure, if he tries to fool the public, he may get away with it-for a while-and then his mistakes will be a boomerang.
Publicity may be used in public as well as private enterprises, even in government itself. Unfortunately, an informed public not always is an aroused public. Early muckrakers found this to be true when they exposed graft and corruption in municipal government. Bunkers focusing attention on misgovernment, whether federal, state, or local, too often find themselves neither heard nor believed. Nevertheless, those who govern have a responsibility of keeping the public informed without engaging in either censorship or propaganda.