National Publicist Day is celebrated every year on October 30 to appreciate and acknowledge the work public relations professionals do to ensure proper communication reaches the world. In today’s hyper-opinionated world, where rumors and fake news spread faster, we need publicists to let us in on the truth, straight from the horse’s mouth.
History of National Publicist Day
On October 28, 1906, a terrible accident occurred in New Jersey. Over 50 people met their end when a three-car train, run by the Pennsylvania Railroad, jumped a trestle to plunge into a road creek. A gentleman representing the Pennsylvania Railroad convinced the company to distribute a public statement on the accident. The company also arranged a special train to ferry reporters to the accident site on his persuasion. He drafted the public statement published by the “New York Times” on October 30, two days later, as a ‘Statement from the Road.’ That was the first press release ever recorded, for which the gentleman who was in the thick of things — Ivy Lee — became known as the father of modern PR. The 1906 Atlantic train wreck, as the accident came to be known, established ‘crisis communication’ as an essential aspect of commercial enterprises. It established public relations as a specialized field and gave publicists a key space in business operations.
Years later, Jordanna Stephen, a celebrated publicist, instituted October 30 as National Publicist Day as a tribute to that landmark event. Since 2015, every year, publicists are celebrated for their excellent behind-the-scenes work.
On this day, publicists and people associated with public relations conduct events, seminars, conferences, and generally catch up on all that is going on in their profession. Since publicists primarily work behind the scenes, it is a day for them to step out and pat themselves on the back for ensuring that people receive proper communication. Their roles have become more critical today, with the internet speeding up the rate at which news travels. It becomes essential that the correct information reaches the general public before they fall prey to fake news and rumors.
National Publicist Day timeline
A Pennsylvania Railroad-run three-car electric train carrying over 80 passengers, falls off a draw bridge into a creek that separates Atlantic City from the New Jersey mainland.
The "New York Times" publishes the Ivy Lee-drafted press release verbatim as a ‘Statement from the Road,’ which becomes the first occurrence of a company issuing an official public statement.
Jordanna Stephen, a celebrated publicist, decides to dedicate the day to acknowledge and appreciate the work publicists across the world do.
The National Publicist Day turns five, and there are events worldwide to celebrate the occasion.
National Publicist Day FAQs
What are the duties of a publicist?
A publicist links a client to the general public, by promoting and managing their public image, communicating with journalists, and organizing publicity events. They also pitch diverse publicity ideas to their clients.
Is hiring a publicist worth it?
A publicist will help to break the communication and procedural barriers, but anyone who wants to hire one must know when and why they should. Hiring a publicist must be done with intention as it can be quite expensive.
Who did Ivy Lee work for?
Ivy Lee is credited with being responsible for the Red Cross becoming the major organization Americans contribute to for disaster relief. He saved the Rockefellers’ reputation following the Ludlow Massacre, by distributing ‘fact sheets’ to the press, and was the first to suggest to Rockefeller Jr. that he give the Rockefeller Center his family name. For advising the Bethlehem Steel managers to list and work on tasks by priority, company head Charles M. Schwab paid him $25,000. Lee was also PR representative for General Mills and Lucky Strike, and adviser to George Westinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, John W. Davis, Otto Kahn, and Walter Chrysler.
Who is Edward Bernays?
Edward Bernays was also considered the founder or ‘Father of Public Relations’ and ‘Opinion Making’ Leader, by many, for encouraging the use of endorsements from opinion leaders and other ‘experts’ to strengthen arguments. He started the use of surveys, releasing the results of experiments and polls, to make a better case for particular opinions.
How to Observe National Publicist Day
Show some love to publicists
If you are a publicist yourself, spread the message of appreciation for what professionals like you do. Send texts to professional groups and ask your colleagues to spread the good tidings. If you are not a publicist, find one in your workplace, neighborhood, or social circle, and just thank them for the wonderful work they do. Make publicists feel good about their, at times, thankless jobs.
Host a party
If you can, host a ‘Publicists fair;’ if you can't, simply invite them for an official get-together. Invite as many PR people as you can. Don't bother about creating an agenda and just let the movement flow. If hosting a physical event is challenging, go for a virtual one. Let publicists bask in their own glory for a day!
Spread the cheer on social media
Use #NationalPublicistDay or #PublicistDay to spread the good tidings on social media. Give a shout-out to all the publicists and let them feel appreciated for their, often thankless, contributions. Tell the world that you are proud of the work done by PR people.
5 Amazing Facts About Ivy Lee, The Father Of Modern-Day PR
A complete communication professional
Ivy Lee worked as an in-house journalist, a stringer, and a publicity manager, at numerous organizations throughout his professional life.
His first job was political
Ivy Lee was employed as a publicity manager for Citizens Union, a political group, in 1903.
His "Declaration of Principles"
Lee articulated his deep philosophy for public communication into his seminal writing — "Declaration of Principles", where he maintained that the responsibilities of public relations practitioners go beyond merely fulfilling the client's brief.
Pennsylvania Railroad hired Lee after the incident
Impressed with his communication management of the 1906 Atlantic train wreck, Pennsylvania Railroad hired Lee full-time in an executive-level position — the first such appointment.
Contribution during World War I
During World War I, Lee worked as a publicity director for the Chairman of the American Red Cross before being appointed as his assistant.
Why National Publicist Day is Important
It is a day to thank publicists
The contribution of publicists often goes unnoticed. Many in the profession often lament that it is a thankless job. On this day, we can offer them appreciation and acknowledge their efforts in providing us vital information with accuracy.
It is a day to honor the first-ever press release
If not for that day in 1906, publicists would never have received a specialized place in the professional world. On National Publicist Day, people, especially PR professionals, can pay tribute to Ivy Lee's act in shaping the world of public relations.
It is a day to network
If you work in an organization bereft of a PR team, this is the day to understand all about PR work. Join an event and understand the role a publicist plays in shaping reputations. If you are a PR professional, network with like-minded people to share problems and find solutions.
National Publicist Day dates