Eisenhower : The Public Relations President

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In the 1950s, public relations practitioners tried to garner respectability for their fledgling profession, and one international figure helped in that endeavor. President Dwight D. Eisenhower embraced public relations as a necessary component of American democracy, advancing the profession at a key moment in its history. But he did more than believe in public relations-he practiced it. Eisenhower changed how America campaigns by leveraging television and Madison Avenue advertising. Once in the Oval Office, he maximized the potential of a new medium as the first U.S. president to seek training for television and to broadcast news conferences on television. Additionally, Eisenhower managed the news through his press office, molding the role of the modern presidential press secretary. The first president to adopt a policy of full disclosure on health issues, Eisenhower survived (politically as well as medically) three serious illnesses while in office. The Eisenhower Administration was the most forthcoming on the president's health at the time, even though it did not always live up to its own policy. In short, Eisenhower deserves credit as this nation's most innovative public relations president, because he revolutionized America's political communication process, forever changing the president's relationship with the Fourth Estate, Madison Avenue, public relations, and ultimately, the American people.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 184 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 340.19g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 8 Halftones, black and white
  • 0739189298
  • 9780739189290
  • 2,282,516

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Public Opinion Wins Wars
Chapter 3: Pennsylvania Avenue Meets Madison Avenue
Chapter 4: The Presidential News Conference
Chapter 5: A New Kind of Press Secretary
Chapter 6: Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Chapter 7: The Selling of America
Chapter 8: Conclusion
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Review quote

This volume offers a clear, compelling argument that few scholars (or media pundits) have dared to suggest: Dwight D. Eisenhower, not John F. Kennedy, was the first US president to truly embrace the use of public relations while in office . . . Parry uses archival materials and interviews with figures associated with Eisenhower to establish that Eisenhower had an under-appreciated strategic approach to public relations. She credits Eisenhower with reinventing the presidential news conference, reinvigorating the stature of the presidential press secretary, using mass media advertisements in his presidential runs, and creating the United States Information Agency to merge diplomacy with propaganda. Parry also points out that despite his intuition vis-a-vis public relations, Eisenhower suffered from poor speaking skills, a propensity for secrecy, and unwillingness to use the presidency in the service of the emerging civil rights movement. A welcome volume for those who wish to see how the presidency began to embrace strategic public relations. Includes extensive endnotes, a listing of archival sources, and photos. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. * CHOICE * Dwight D. Eisenhower had an illustrious career that has been well documented. Despite the vast literature on him, however, Pam Parry has managed to find an underexplored area. . . .Other mass media scholars have touched on Eisenhower's attitudes toward the media, innovative use of television, and public relations' savvy, but no one has taken the focused look at his impact on public relations as Parry has. . . .The book would make an ideal addition to a course in the history of public relations as well as in political science classes focused on the presidency. It is an interesting and informative look at a president about whom we continue to learn much. * American Journalism: A Media History Journal * Pam Parry has crafted a deeply sourced, fascinating look at our first "television president," not-as lore would have it-John F. Kennedy, but rather his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower.

Readers will learn that Ike's administration fielded a skilled PR team and like the most media-savvy pol today, aimed to use the new medium to go around the filter of the White House press corps and take his policies directly to the American people.

An extremely readable account that folds in the accounts of the people who were there, and one that provides new insight into how voters were encouraged to 'like Ike.' Any serious student of the Eisenhower presidency will better understand his high approval ratings with the public despite scandals, policy setbacks and repeated health issues that could have derailed his effectiveness.

Eisenhower: The Public Relations President also provides a new reminder that while packaging the public image of American presidents began well before his year's in office, and that propaganda efforts rose and fell with wartime, Eisenhower established the first attempt at purposefully presenting an image of America abroad in peacetime, by creating the United States Information Agency. -- Gene Policinski, Newseum Institute As a child growing up in Washington, DC in the 1950s, Eisenhower was my first president. But, I knew little else about him other than he ran the country and fought in the war. This book made me aware not only of his public relations acumen, but his passion for doing the right thing. From his very public position on the existence of the Holocaust to his appointment of the first female associate press secretary, Ike was not afraid to stand up for what was right, and to let the world know. -- Aileen Katcher, APR, Fellow PRSA Pam Parry makes a compelling argument that Eisenhower really was the public relations president. She documents how, from his military days through his time in the White House, he recognized the power of public relations and used it effectively to get elected and stay elected, to influence world opinion of the U.S. in the early days of the Cold War, and to maintain an extraordinarily high level of popularity. Among Ike's PR contributions highlighted in this book are his insistence that the horrors of the concentration camps be documented and made public, his embrace of television both in his campaigns and in his presidency, and his quintessentially public relations perspective that in general, providing more information was better than providing less. This book provides a great snapshot of mid-twentieth century political PR, and it offers insight into ways that Eisenhower changed the practice of public relations in Washington. -- Josh Boyd, Purdue University
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About Pam Parry

Pam Parry is chair of the Mass Media Department at Southeast Missouri State University.
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