The 1940s and 1950s

As with World War I, World War II also launched a number of public relations leaders, many of whom, like Harold Burson and Daniel J. Edelman, had built outreach skills while working in military public information during the war. After the war, there was an explosion in the growth of public relations “in size, scope, and professionalism”: 19,000 people identified as specialists in 1950, a number that grew to 31,000 a decade later, according to the US Department of Labor (Miller 2008). Unlike the start of the century, when increased productivity bred unrest, the post-World-War-II years saw unrest due to productivity decline that bred high prices and led to labor and consumer demands for more government oversight of business practices. Public relations counselors saw a need to explain the contributions big business made, essentially promoting capitalism (Miller 2008). For industry, this meant a rapid increase in product publicity, trade and government campaigns that targeted businesses as well as consumers, and an increasing rise of in-house counsel posts even within nonprofit and government organizations (Miller 2008). An example from this time period is the NAACP’s Henry Lee Moon.

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