George William Sydney Fitzpatrick (1884-1948): An Australian Public Relations ‘pioneer’

Damian John Gleeson

Abstract


Public relations scholarship has only briefly mentioned George Fitzpatrick, an Australian industry pioneer. This paper – based largely on archival material, contemporary articles, and other published primary sources – seeks to redress this gap in PR historiography. It examines Fitzpatrick’s family background, business networks, and diverse career, which included PR and government lobbying activities at a time when publicity practice in Australia was thought to be confined to the film sector. From journalist origins, Fitzpatrick moved into consultancy and pro bono PR work on behalf of governments, business, and charitable organisations. His PR campaigns, grounded in research trips to America and Europe in the 1930s, reflected considerable understanding of the ‘science of persuasion’ to influence public opinion. Fitzpatrick’s strategies included editorial, direct mail, advertising, events, and lobbying. In 1946 Fitzpatrick faced sensational allegations concerning his gambling businesses, from which he does not appear to have recovered. This paper concludes that although Fitzpatrick’s reputation was strongly damaged, his earlier charitable and political campaigns encapsulated PR practices well prior to the professional PR era in Australia.

Keywords


Gambling; Government; Lobbying; Public Relations

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The University of Newcastle
ISSN - 1839-8227