Ivy Lee, the man who turned around the Rockefeller name and image, and his friend, Edward Louis Bernays, established the first definition of public relations in the early 1900s as follows: "a management function, which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interests of an organization...followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance." According to Bernays, the public relations counsel is the agent working with both modern media of communications and group formations of society in order to provide ideas to the public’s consciousness.
An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article.
Most historians believe public relations became established first in the US by Ivy Lee or Edward Bernays, then spread internationally.
Many American companies with PR departments spread the practice to Europe when they created European subsidiaries as a result of the Marshall plan.
The aim of public relations is to inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favorable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions.
Public relations professionals typically work for PR and marketing firms, businesses and companies, government, and public officials as PIOs and nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit organizations.