Declaration of Principles refers to a statement released by modern public relations pioneer Ivy Ledbetter Lee in 1906 that is seen as laying important groundwork for the public relations profession in the decades to follow.
During an anthracite coal strike, coal operators hired Lee to represent them. Lee made sure newspapers received daily "handouts" of printed materials containing all pertinent facts of the strike.
But these new "press releases" were met with hostility by newspapers, who called them mere ads and accused Lee of trying to manipuate them.
This caused Lee to issue his "Declaration of Principles," which he sent to all newspapers.
The declaration reads, in part:
- "This is not a secret press bureau. All our work is done in the open. We aim to supply news. This is not an advertising agency. If you think any of our matter ought properly to go to your business office, do not use it. Our matter is accurate. Further details on any subject treated will be supplied promptly, and any editor will be assisted most carefully in verifying directly any statement of fact. ... In brief, our plan is frankly, and openly, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subjects which it is of value and interest to the public to know about."
The statement was seen as a significant move from press agentry to true public relations.
In 1948, business writer Eric F. Goldman wrote of the statement that it "marks the emergence of a second stage of public relations. The public was no longer to be ignored, in the traditional manner of business, nor fooled, in the continuing manner of the press agent. It was to be informed."
- Goldman, Eric F. Two-Way Street. The Emergence of the Public Relations Counsel. Boston: Bellman Publishing Co., 1948.