16 de junho de 2015

Alexander Mackenzie and the origin of Brazilian Public Relations

Narratives can organize or disorganize – by means of language and its structures – the messages that we want to promote through time and space. A metaphor can be an approximation or distancing of what one wants to explain. The Earth will never be a ball, but as a metaphor it can be. In the clash between metaphor and the object, a tree will never be an antenna directed towards the Sun. Among other figures of speech, a metonym never will equal a human leg to a table’s leg. Hyperbole is a distortion about the dimensions of which want to overdo. All figures of speech only promote an idea of what we want to talk. And, despite the restrictions of the act of language, its many instruments reveal us the intentions stored in each narrative that, seeking persuade and convince, are always speeches.

The statement that Eduardo Pinheiro Lobo is the “Brazilian Ivy Lee” is this type of narrative, specifically a metaphor that hides what is essential in the phenomenon we want to reveal and the contemporary Brazilian PR community need and intention of finding their national paternity. Paternity – because we have been marked by the cartorial and autarchic culture – ideally legalized and certified in labor documents such as working papers, diplomas or a defined position in the company’s hierarchy with relations-public category. From this strictly legal point of view, Eduardo Pinheiro Lobo is the first Brazilian PR Professional. It is merely a bureaucratic point of view, which highlights Lobo’s professional and educational weaknesses and the exaggeration in granting him a paternity he did not claim.

Eduardo Lobo is not the Brazilian Ivy Lee. He had no professional and scientific density for it. Therefore, the paternity or maternity Brazilian Public Relations remains undefined. Lee, father of public relations, worked in USA in 1914 as the creator of a new philosophy and relational strategy for his client John D. Rockefeller Jr., directed to publics that were criticising the entrepreneur – mainly journalists and authorities. He also worked as advisor of Rockefeller, to change the ethos of the entrepreneur in relation to the stakeholders and society. The results of Lee’s work, seen in a perspective that cross the last 100 years, are the theoretical, practical and career-related outlined by the first actions of this richly documented pioneer of RPs. Nothing similar is seen in professional trajectory of Lobo. And I emphasize that none of this belies his role as public relations professional at his time and even now.

The approximation of Eduardo Lobo with the universe of thoughts and relational practices is commonly done by its direct relationship with Alexander Mackenzie, a Canadian entrepreneur, from Canadian Light. Mackenzie yes, he dealt with numerous public demands of a Brazil that was facing the urbanization and industrialization phenomenon – mainly focused in cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro – that to be successful needed the electricity produced by Mackenzie company, Light.

The book “Chatô”, written by Fernando Morais, provides us countless reports describing the huge public controversies caused by the Light presence in Brazil as well the relational and political skills of Mackenzie, as being with right influential people at the right time and place. Alexander Mackenzie was certainly not the first Brazilian PR professional – this one membership card and name –  but it was certainly the father of the first department of the Brazilian PR. This fact show us that as Ivy Lee recommended for Rockefeller, Mackenzie incorporated in their performances and the company’s bases in Brazil for the development of contemporary public relations.

Os artigos aqui apresentados não necessariamente refletem a opinião da Aberje e seu conteúdo é de exclusiva responsabilidade do autor.

Paulo Nassar

Diretor-presidente da Associação Brasileira de Comunicação Empresarial (Aberje); professor titular da Escola de Comunicações e Artes da Universidade de São Paulo (ECA-USP); doutor e mestre pela ECA-USP. É coordenador do Grupo de Estudos de Novas Narrativas (GENN), da ECA-USP; pesquisador orientador de mestrado e doutorado (PPGCOM ECA-USP); pesquisador da British Academy (University of Liverpool) – 2016-2017. Entre outras premiações, recebeu o Atlas Award, concedido pela Public Relations Society of America (PRSA, Estados Unidos), por contribuições às práticas de relações públicas, e o prêmio Comunicador do Ano (Trajetória de Vida), concedido pela FundaCom (Espanha). É coautor dos livros: Communicating Causes: Strategic Public Relations for the Non-profit Sector (Routledge, Reino Unido, 2018); The Handbook of Financial Communication and Investor Relation (Wiley-Blackwell, Nova Jersey, 2018); O que É Comunicação Empresarial (Brasiliense, 1995); e Narrativas Mediáticas e Comunicação – Construção da Memória como Processo de Identidade Organizacional (Coimbra University Press, Portugal, 2018).