The earliest chaPteRs

      62 Comments on The earliest chaPteRs

Moses as portrayed by Charleton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” (1955)

Once upon a time more than 5,000 years ago, God needed a good PR representative to speak on behalf of slaves in Egypt. He hired Moses, who was called up to a mountain and tasked with securing freedom for the Jews who were under Pharaoh’s grip in Egypt. Moses, being slow of tongue, enlisted his brother Aaron to be spokesperson. Using a catchy slogan (“Let my people go!”), Moses and Aaron stated God’s case. Of course, a good slogan is never enough; it took some serious plagues and miracles to change Pharaoh’s attitude, and eventually the Jews were freed. Off into the desert they went to find the Promised Land.

But the PR story doesn’t end there. As they wandered in the desert for 40 years, the people became corrupt and debauched, so God decided He needed another PR campaign to influence their attitudes. He called Moses to the top of another mountain and dictated His action plan. Moses may have understood that when he got back, words from the unseen God might not be enough; he needed to stage a dramatic event. So instead of mere verbal representation, God and Moses delivered the plan in stone, framed on lovely, arched tablets. Moses grabbed his audience’s attention by coming down from the mountain with Ten Commandments in a spectacular show of God’s power and authority.

This PR version of the story was inspired by Shelley Spector, executive director and founder of the Museum of Public Relations, who suggests Moses’s story is among the earliest chapters in our profession’s history. Shelley and I are working on a Hofstra-sponsored historical PR timeline, which will begin with cave drawings and move through Moses, ancient Greece and Rome, the spread of Christianity, the invention of the printing press, and every PR and communication milestone since. Shelley’s point is this: everything in our history from religion to politics to social and technological changes has ties to the skills and tools we practice in the field of public relations. All things are PR. Your thoughts?

Next week for Valentine’s Day: How romance is PR, too.

62 thoughts on “The earliest chaPteRs

  1. Bahati Louis

    I never thought about Moses using PR tactics to get God’s word across. I find it fascinating that you can find PR in everything as long as you look for it. I also find it interesting how they used the stone tablets as their way to display the ten commandments instead of on simple paper or something else. It’s like Moses and God used the new hip way of communicating to the Egyptians and capturing their attention much like how we use different forms of “cool” social media today (snapchat, twitter, instagram).

  2. molliealexandra

    This connection does a great job of illustrating the statement made that, “All things are PR.” People today, myself included, fail to recognize how public relation ties into a number of historical and even biblical events. Public relations is more than just a social media campaign or press release and this is a perfect example of that.

  3. sharlys_leszczuk

    This was a very interesting conversation with Shelley Spector. I thought that her insights as to what historical events had a PR element to them. It made me think about all the other historical movements and I could not think of any events that did not have any PR practices associated with them. Everything is PR, and the whole world needs PR. It’s interesting, though, because many people are ashamed of utilizing PR professionals, yet the work that we do is essential to every interaction with people. PR is a valuable resource, not something of which to be ashamed.

  4. sabrinacwenar

    I especially loved this relation to the Bible because I am catholic and I found it interesting how PR is tied to Moses and the Ten Commandments Bible story. The timeline seems like a very exciting thing and I am interested to see it come to life, after all The Museum of Public Relations makes ” History Come to Life”

  5. Erin Schmitt

    It’s so interesting to consider the enormous presence PR has in our every day lives across all levels; I already find myself looking at everything from a PR perspective on a daily basis in regards to the present. That being said, its an entirely different thing to think about how PR dates back essentially to the beginning of time and has affected the growth
    PR can be considered a part of the core of how our world’s culture and society has evolved, and yet people have not even realized it in many cases. Having Shelley Spector come to our class and hearing her speak about PR’s role and importance as an applied social science opened my eyes to think in ways I hadn’t thought about PR. Its influence on the world has allowed civilizations to prosper, both a century ago and thousands of centuries ago. People have always needed PR in some capacity, whether its considered “PR” or not. The message may not always be important to all, but it is important to someone and is thus necessary. Not everyone will receive it, but you have to make sure you believe in the messages that you are putting forth in the same way that Moses believed in the works God provided him with. We’re all messengers with a story to tell.

  6. Saralynn Kupperberg

    Relating the practice of public relations to this infamous story from the Bible is something that I have never thought of before. Like Ms. Spector said during our class, I date the practice of PR back to the times of the industry’s forefathers of Ivy Lee, Arthur Page, Edwards Bernays, and P.T. Barnum. Understanding public relations through this example is like seeing the practice through a whole new lens. However, while I do agree that Moses utilized many public relations skills, I feel somewhat uneasy about looking at the Ten Commandments as a public relations document.

    I look forward to this public relations timeline! If it dates back all the way to the stories of the Bible, covers all of the ancient civilizations, the spread of Christianity, American history, and the many events that students think of as the history of public relations, then this timeline will be a mile long. I can’t wait!

  7. Pamela Lacayo

    Public Relations and the Bible is something that I would have never put together. It is an interesting perspective, to say the least. Nonetheless, it makes perfect sense to relate the story of Moses to Public Relations, though I disagree with it, I can understand the concept and how it can be seen in the light of a PR campaign. I do believe that God does not need to be represented, nor does He need a PR campaign as the secular world does. Regardless, this is a great post and I did enjoy Shelley’s presentation.

  8. Katie Hammer

    It’s fascinating how something you’ve known is now revealed in a different light. Shelly Spector gave light to the fact that since the beginning of time, there has been public relations. I agree that it goes to show that everything we do in life involves some sort of strategy from the pr profession. Who would have known that Moses was one of the first public relations professionals? I’m excited to see the timeline, for it will reveal even more about public relations that the world may not have realized.

  9. Nathalie

    I truly enjoyed Shelley’s historic connections to PR. Something that I never would have thought was public relations…is public relations! It’s fascinating to see how public relations–an industry that all students are taught began with Edward Bernays in the 1920s–has been around since the beginning of times. Shelley and her Museum of Public Relations wants to teach students this vast history of the industry and I believe that it is very important for us of all to know.

  10. Russell Benner

    First off, I love the title. Kudos.

    Next, I do believe that everything is PR and Moses depicting Gods’ plan was the beginning. Going throughout this major we are taught about so many prolific people of the PR world and who was the first to do it. Having the timeline you and Shelly will put together will be astounding to see in not only a historical standpoint, but a deeper appreciation for PR majors like ourselves. It really is interesting to see how the beginning of something so vast and so wide in today’s world was started so long ago.

  11. daniellehkent

    I love the biblical comparison! It just goes to show that even prior to the development of PR as a field, maintaining a positive public image, creating thought leadership, and various other outcomes of a strong PR initiative were inherently always something to strive for.

  12. bric1995

    I had never thought of PR in this way, but it shows an accurate representation of what PR is, in my opinion. While this story does indeed seem silly, I think its also a refreshing way to look at public relations and how it can relate to our world in a way we understand.

  13. Kristina Weller

    I have never looked at PR from this perspective and it is truly amazing how the practices that surround our day to day life which are infiltrated with technology, etc. were performed so simply, thousands and thousands of years ago. This post was very interesting and gave me a new insight in regards to public relations!

  14. gmorah

    This extrapolation, I think, is a classical and well-founded intelligible way of expressing that PR is indispensable; it is also of proving the historical relevance of PR.

    Looking at today’s PR – the system and the way it is practiced – one leaves no doubt that the history is right about it, the PR.

    I think also that the Moses’ historical story is a proper definition that PR is all about creativity and process, without which practitioners can’t succeed.

    By that, I mean that where there’s no effective representatives of the information or message, where there’s no proper means of delivering the message, and where there’s no, what I call, ‘packaging’ of the message, then the PR practitioner won’t meet the objective for which he’s reaching out the targeted audience.

    Lastly, the persuasive approach of PR is evidenced from the historical story: ‘What must be done to convince Pharoh to let the Israelis to go’; ‘What must be done to make the Israelis be law-abiding’, and to mention but a few!

  15. capriceoliver

    This was an awesome illustration of PR from a religious story. Moses definitely was given task after task with only word of God to back him up. Public relations may be new to some but it is truly one of the oldest professions around! Great post!

  16. taylorpirone20

    I spent years in religious education and a catholic high school learning and relearning these stories. In a way, the interpretation above seems a little silly. However, it does not seem far-fetched to refer to Moses as a spokesperson. This story proves that everyone can benefit from good PR.

  17. Mariana Sava

    I would enjoy looking over a historical PR timeline. PR and Ancient Greece would be an interesting story. “And the Achaeans then said, ‘So how what are the plans for this horse?…Everybody in their crisis communication mode. NOW!'” I agree with Shelley Spector and many of the other comments that “all things are PR.”

  18. Alicia Springer

    It is so interesting that PR was present even thousands and thousands of years ago. Not only this but it is interesting that they were so good at it considering it was only in its early stages.

  19. Cody Dano

    I never would have thought of connecting PR to ancient times, and to such a broad topic as God. However, I think the points made in this piece are both interesting and informative. Great take on PR and world history!

  20. Elaine

    PR is very important for the world no matter in ancient or now. Like the story said: God needed a good PR representative to speak on behalf of slaves in Egypt. Moses not only need to think of the slogan, but also he should change people’s attitude by speaking to people. PR person’s job is that they should consider a creative idea and put it into practice. PR is all the thing.

  21. sarahanne94

    I agree that all things are PR. The way we interact with each other and how me make social changes is all due to PR. A person must understand how others think and receive information in order to influence their decisions. Throughout history, people have used PR to make changes in the world. PR is very advanced in modern times with the addition of technology but it all stems from a long history of simple public relations.

  22. Ari Okonofua

    I’ve never viewed PR in relation to religion but find this very interesting. I do think the historical view of PR is essential to learn and would provide meaningful insight into the profession.

  23. John Grillea

    PR is the strategic process to influence public opinion and this has been around since the beginning of time! It takes a story like this to really make you think about how PR is all around us in so many different situations. PR is spread through all historical events and especially throughout religion. This was a cool read and something that I really never thought about.

  24. Amy Wang

    It is one of the cutest story i have ever had about PR. It is so true that PR is everywhere in our daily lives. As the public practitioners, we influence people’s behavior by using different strategies, such as creating a special event or using media as a tool. At the same time, we are also being influenced by other people’s work. In today’s society, PR plays a very important role in every industry. They need us to create awareness, send the message, manage the crisis, promote the product, connect with the media etc. Maybe one day we can use what we learn from PR to create a better world, like how Jesus did. 🙂

  25. Abby Drapeau

    I never thought about religion using PR, but that was a very interesting observation. I think that there was definitely PR tools used in this story, it will be interesting to see what you and Shelley Spector discover in your research.

  26. Nikita Hakels

    This couldn’t have been explained any better. This is a perfect example. I believe that everything in this world is for a reason, and things are somehow linked with each other. I feel humbled and proud that being a christian I relate my profession to my religion. Everything sure is PR, yes PR has been in existance for a long time, but people of every stage view it differently, but the goal of PR has always been one.

  27. xuhansite

    This article told us a story based on history and religions. We pay more attention on the development of public relations and never trace the origin of public relations in the unique perspective. As PR practitioners, a concrete practice is much more important than an empty slogan. When we create a PR campaign to influence people’s attitudes, to capture the public’s interest and psychology is the key factor of winning victory. I agree with Shelley’s point that everything ties to the skills and tools in the field of public relations. The reason is a public relations campaign is related to the local history, religion, politics, society, economy and technology.

  28. Judea Hartley

    This is why i absolutely love the field that I am pursuing. This has to be my favorite blog since the beginning of the semester. I am a christian and this story is absolutely correct and powerful, yet an accurate and great example of PR. Public relations is simply the relationship between various publics and an organization or a figure. In this case, the figure was Moses. This story occurred over 2,000 years ago. However, the concept of PR is still the same today. Take a corporate organization for instance, most people don’t like to move on a new idea unless they actually see the outcome being a success. Not only do people want to see and know the exact outcome of the new idea, but they also want to see the detailed steps within the blueprint that will lead them to success. In life and in PR, you sometimes do have to bend and create a message thats loud enough to get the public to move, to believe, and to cooperate.

  29. Lysa Carre

    This example reminds me of the quote “actions speaker louder than words.” Although communicating one’s message(s) is crucial, sometimes doing it verbally just isn’t enough. In certain circumstances, a drastic event or stunt is necessary in order to capture the audience’s attention to portray the message being related in its full potential. Often times, people hear but do not listen. Therefore, capturing the moment and portraying it to what ever extent that may be, can provide better results from the target audience.

    Due to this graduate program, my perspective on life is beginning to change, and I find myself often contemplating about the message I am seeking to communicate, whether it’s a good or bad public image, and the direct effect it will have among the source and audience as a result.

  30. astoldbyizzy

    PR is basically spreading information about a person/company to a larger public- so I completely agree that everything can be tied back to PR. The biggest thing we do in modern time that is easily tied to PR is when a person posts a picture on instagram of there new shoes or a selfie in a tie or necklace- it gives the company that made the shoes, necklace, tie, etc., a place to be seen by many people without having to do anything- especially when the person uses a hashtag stating the company name or tags them. Something that can be tied back to PR that we may not realize that we did when we were younger could be show and tell in school. And these are things that we personally do, image everything that goes on around us as well throughout the past hundreds of years.

  31. mmolin9

    It is so interesting to think of a story we all know, in terms of PR. This goes to show how often PR may show up in our lives and we don’t even realize it. Realizing this shows the importance and relevance of PR not just in the the typical situations we think of PR in.

  32. Carolyn Leonardo

    Public relations goes hand in hand when it comes to different communication technologies or past communications. From the begining being writing and the printing press than computers, there has always been a strategy in order to get peoples attention to use the product. Not many things are done in life without the hope of people adapting to it and wanting to get peoples attention. These things are not done without planning and strategy. Even when you do not realize it is being done public relations is everywhere and is never done by accident.

  33. Jillian Berardi

    I found this so fascinating. I never would have thought about this story in a PR perspective. PR is truly everywhere and it just goes to show how long this profession has really been around. It isn’t just some newly created profession like some people think. I think it’s important to learn about the history of PR.

  34. peightoncrawford

    I think that Public Relations strategies can be utilized in almost any situation. It is fascinating to me that the idea of PR in history is being JUST brought to my attention. As someone who has an interest in PR, I hope that the idea of PR through history is explored more.

  35. Kyle Kandetzki

    I’ve always considered how movement in history has required someone who can be trusted by the people not only to speak to them, but also to convince them their ideas are great (like a PR professional), but I had never thought of going back this far for PR to be evident!

    That’s a truly interesting way of thinking how people who are leaders in one way or another are always needed.

  36. Emily Weeks

    I definitely agree with the notion that PR is in everything. The example with Moses seems to fit well, as he was a liaison to God. PR can be found in many situations and is in almost everything we do. PR is nothing new; it was perhaps something that was never invented but rather always there.

  37. tiffanyvellis

    It’s really interesting to take a step back from the hectic everyday responsibilities as any student or professional in the communications world, and recognize that the history we’ve heard so many times in our lives is, in fact, the workings of PR tactics. Before being a student in PR 100, I don’t think I paid as close attention as I now do to the instances that surround us that depict PR ideals and maneuvers for selling something as simple as our opinion to our friends. I’m an extremely opinionated person, and it seems that I’ve been using PR subconsciously my whole life in order to sell an idea, a thought, or an opinion to a specific person or group of friends using different tactics to get the point across to that audience.

  38. Brianna Vallelong

    I think this is an awesome way to tie the practice of Public Relations to the past. Reading this will allow me to challenge myself to find other ways throughout history that PR tactics were used, despite not being referred to as PR. Im not too positive that “all things” are necessarily PR, but a decent amount of events that have taken place and skills that we use can be traced back PR strategies.

  39. Vanessa Major

    A great example of how perception is quite unique. I’ve never thought of this story in that way and it is creative and absolutely applies to PR. Definitely a fun way to look at history through the PR lens and it confirms for me that there’s a PR strategy for all information being communicated.

  40. kn3vil

    Very interesting. This is absolutely understandable in the terms you put it in, while it takes makes sense on making people believe in God and his powers. Can’t wait to see your take on the Spanish Inquisition!

  41. laurenconway97

    I found this extremely interesting and accurate. It is really fascinating how far back PR dates in history and makes me think of how many other examples there are that I haven’t thought about. PR is used more often than people expect and this is a perfect example of that! This way definitely a different way at looking at history and was a very interesting point.

  42. azachar1

    This is probably my favorite blog post yet! I found this fascinating. I was a Judaic Studies minor during my undergraduate career and did a lot of Jewish Torah text study outside of academia. I have heard so many interesting interpretations about Moses and what happened at Sinai but never thought there could be a connection between religion and PR. I think it is so mind-boggling that pretty much everything is PR. No matter what field you are in, no matter your interests, PR is everywhere. I am so proud to be studying PR and soon entering this field for a career.

  43. Lauren Denker

    I found this to be extremely interesting. You never realize how much PR is really used and how many years it has been around. I have heard the story of Moses and the Ten commandments many times, but never put two and two together. This is a very cool way of tying history and PR together.

  44. Danielle Tana

    If you really think about it, PR is truly everywhere. As long as there’s communication, there will be PR and there will be a need for PR. I’ve never thought of the bible in this way before, but when you do think about it, it makes a ton of sense. God needed a representative and it seems as if Moses was essentially doing the job of a PR professional (or something similar)

  45. pollakvictoria

    I find this post rather comedic because of how true i think it is. I’ve never thought of Moses being God’s PR representative. Of course it wasn’t thought of in that way back then but now it could be seen as so. This grasps the fact that ever since the beginning of time we have been campaigning to influence others. Our life revolves around others interpretations and promotions.

  46. Rachel G

    This post is particularly interesting to me. I’m not religious, but my parents did send me to Hebrew school until I was 13. Over the years, I heard this story many times. Even though I knew the story, I never really put much though into it. Reading this post gives me a different perspective, and does make me think further about the story. It is enthralling, in my opinion at least, that pr is regarded as a non-essential profession but yet has such an influence on the history in which most of society is built on.

  47. Shawna Gregson

    I do agree with the notion that a lot stems from the practice of Public Relations. Public Relations is the practice of learning how to hear message and communicate that message to the masses in a productive way; in a way so they will hear you. PR people are messengers. Throughout history all drastic changes in society and the world in which we know it has come from a message. A message that someone communicated to a group of people that affected change. I agree with the relation between Public Relations and history. Public Relations is the catalyst or change and the building blocks in changing history.

  48. SShak

    I believe this post just goes to show how the skills we learn as PR professionals not only make us better PR practitioners, but better in any social aspect. The skill set we learn in PR is one that can be applied to essentially any field in some way shape or form. It is very interesting to relate such a fairly new profession to historic events that have happened in the early centuries.

  49. hassette14

    I do think it’s true when you say that history plays a part in everything, even related to professions that we may consider relatively newer. While PR has been around for a long time now, most people wouldn’t consider Moses being a PR person for God. However, when explained I was able to see how that was true being that PR professionals are hired to spread word or a specific message, which is exactly what Moses did for God.

  50. Tyler Weatherly

    It’s really interesting to look at historical events with a Public relations lens. It really makes me wonder what other revolutionary events throughout history that we could explain that way. Although PR is considered a fairly new profession it was always prominent whether we put a name to it or not. From Moses presenting the 10 Commandments to posting instagram selfies with Fit Tea, PR always has been and always will be important.

  51. Lauren A.

    I find it so interesting that PR was around so long ago yet is such a “new” profession. PR is in everything that we do, from posting pictures of my life on Instagram, to making status’ on Facebook, PR is so prominent. Even if people don’t realize it, they are constantly promoting themselves or their cause through PR. Hearing about something that happened so long ago as an instance of PR is so interesting and I think a great example of PR in everyday life, even when people don’t realize they are doing it.

  52. Elizabeth Giangarra

    I think this a very interesting concept and comparison of the profession of PR to Moses and the representation of the Bible that Mrs. Shelley to tell as a suggest Moses story to be a early history of the profession. I believe it truly opened my eyes to a different view of interpretation of Moses and PR profession.

  53. shollwedel

    I was going to make a very similar point about how people use the same strategies we use as public relations professionals in every day life without even realizing it. PR pros are just able to take a step back and see the underlying theories besides these communication strategies, and as a result they are much more effective in their attempts at persuasion.
    In the Bible, I think God proves to be effective at public relations time and time again. Whether it is his campaign is more of an attack campaign, such as the plagues, that bring the people to his side by attacking the opponent, or a persuasive campaign, such as trying to gently steer the people in the desert back to the right path through building trust, he makes use of what appears to be the most effective strategies on a case by case basis.

  54. ellen christie

    I LOVE this On Feb 7, 2016 7:13 AM, “Public Relations Nation” wrote:

    > jmorosoff posted: ” Once upon a time more than 5,000 years ago, God needed > a good PR representative to speak on behalf of slaves in Egypt. He hired > Moses, who was called up to a mountain and tasked with securing freedom for > the Jews who were under Pharaoh’s grip in Egypt. ” >

  55. Niki Rihal

    I always knew there was PR in almost everything that was ever successful (or not successful) but it never once occurred to me that it goes that far back to Moses. When I heard that story in class, I was so amazed that PR could even be related to something like God and Moses. It’s a much more interesting and fun way of looking at history as we know it. It was a good way to learn about new things related to PR other than through a textbook, and I enjoyed Shelly’s presentation immensely.

  56. syanok

    I do not think I would consider this part of the bible and using Moses as a prophet to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt to be a good early example of PR used in religion. Maybe the use of Christianity by church officials etc. to control a large number of people would be better? However, different people interpret biblical stories and lessons in different ways so to each their own.

  57. pjze618

    I honestly never thought about how everything we do is PR, but this makes a lot of sense. When Shelley told this story in class, it was funny to think about, since the Bible and PR aren’t usually used in the same context. I think the timeline you and Shelley are working on will be an incredible resource to PR students and practitioners.

  58. Emily Racanelli

    I concur that we can find ties to PR in everything we do. Just think about the basic idea of this profession: we make pitches to people, get them to trust in us, and even potentially build a long standing relationship with them. When I think of “everything,” I don’t necessarily think abut historical events, but rather instances in our personal lives where PR can come into play.
    From a young age, we are engaging in PR tactics. We try to make friends by basically pitching ourselves and convincing someone that we are worthy of their time. We show that we can be trusted by proving it and reaffirming it over the course of years.
    We incorporate these PR strategies into our daily lives without even realizing it. That may be the way these things happened in history. Nobody even realizes how the actions we have are tied to PR. The example given about Moses was a great one, showing that even back in the simplest of times with the fewest amount of resources. people were still going after the same idea.
    It makes me wonder what I am doing in my life right now that has to do with PR and I don’t even realize it. If anything, it makes me feel better knowing that the major I chose can be applicable in the professional and personal worlds. I guess I might actually be getting my money’s worth at Hofstra! (Not really, but close to it!)

  59. Ken Young

    Moses, in A History of the World: “I bring you these fifteen (drops one of his three tablets), uh, TEN commandments.”


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