Brief History of PR in Finland
In the early stages of public relations in Finland, advertising agencies performed most of what we now consider public relations duties. According to Lehtonen (2004), there were five stages in the development of the public relations in Finland.
The first stage began in the twentieth century and continued to the Finnish Winter War and WWII. The 1920s and 1930s were major milestone decades for the development of the advertising industry. In 1922, a propaganda film was shown all over the world and was a great success for Finland. This could be considered the first Finnish public relations campaign (Lehtonen, 2004).
The Finnish government needed a way to communicate with the general public before and during the WWII, thusmany domestic press offices were created and many international press offices had their representatives in Finland to assist with wartime communication. The media was invited by the armed forces to a training session in war propaganda and these activists in spring of 1937 created the first Finnish public relations association called Propagandaliitto (Lehtonen, 2004).
After the war, in1947, some members of the wartime Propagandaliitto established a new communications association Tiedoitusmiehet ry. See below ProCom.
The second stage began at the end of WWII and ended in 1956 with the General Strike. This stage influenced the start of public relations as a profession. In 1955, the first television transmissions began and public relations at this point became media related. Internal communication in organizations was introduced and the professionals founded a society entitled, Suomen Henkilöstölehtiyhdistys, the ‘Personnel Magazine Association of Finland’ (Lehtonen, 2004). See below Procom.
The third stage, from 1956 to the mid 1960s, was distinguished by the emergence of public relations activity in the industrial sector. Books on public relations were published and business professionals discussed the future of public relations in regards to aiding relations with trade unions (Lehtonen, 2004).
The fourth stage, lasting until the 1970s, was a major expansion in the public relations industry. Laws were created defining internal and public communication as well as the responsibility of municipal communication (Kunnat.net). In 1970, the Finnish public relations agencies created the Finnish Association of Public Relations Agencies, MTL (Lehtonen, 2004).
In 1978 Tiedotusmiehet ry and Suomen Henkilöstölehtiyhdistys merged under a new name Suomen Tiedottajien Liitto (StiL). It changed its name again in 2004 to ProCom - Viestinnän ammattilaiset ry to illustrate the more modern thinking of communication in organizations. ProCom today has about 1,800 individual members. It is a forum for cooperation and education in the field of communication. ProCom is regarded as the oldest association in its field in Europe because it was established in 1947 by the name Tiedoitusmiehet and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2007.
The final stage lasting until the 1980s is considered the maturity stage because the first chair of communication was implemented and many universities started to recognize the importance of this emerging field (Lehtonen, 2004).
NOTE: This guide has been compiled by the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management. For the works cited in these pages, click here.